Very low income families and those on some form of public assistance may be able to receive help on their telephone bills from Lifeline. This state and federal government funded FCC program is required to be offered, but there are some exceptions. However almost all phone companies in the state, whether they are cellular providers or offer residential service, provide this service to their customers.
Lifeline will provide a credit to an existing service. It is for future bills only and will not pay for any arrears on an account. However the credit, which can in fact be thought of as a monthly discount, can help a low income family or someone in poverty pay for their phone bill.
The exact amount of savings will vary based on income and the company that is providing the service. It will generally be around $10 to $20 per month, and it only applies for local phone service. Long distance costs and special features such as call waiting are not covered by Lifeline in Mississippi. Also, only one phone is covered per household, and the assistance will also only last for 12 months. At that point in time the person will need to reapply.
Another resource in Mississippi is Link-Up. This will help customers pay for the connection fees for new service. It can also assist with a wireless phone too.
This is another federal government created program. It is funded by a small fee that every single consumer needs to pay on their monthly bills. Most of the assistance available from Link-Up is for household with a disabled member or senior citizen in them. This is often the case as it is even more imperative for them to have access to some form of communication. It is similar to Lifeline it that it will only pay for a portion of the expense involve in establishing service.
In order to apply for the Mississippi Lifeline or Link-Up programs, some or all of the following conditions need to be met. There are income restrictions in place, and while they can change over time, they will generally limit applicants to being within 150 percent of poverty levels.
Or another way to qualify for the reduction on a bill is to be receiving some form of state of Mississippi or federal government assistance. As an example, families that have a member that is benefiting from Food Stamps, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or TANF can enroll. The phone discounts will also be for families that are having their rent paid by section 8.
Also, most phone companies participate, but not all of them. The national providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, all allow customers to enroll. Other Lifeline providers in Mississippi include Safelink, Assurance Wireless, T-Mobile, Cricket, and others. There are a couple dozen other small companies that participate. Residents can contact their company to inquire.
In order to apply for a credit on a bill, the Mississippi Public Service Commission can provide an application to either one or both of these programs. However, all of the cellular and also home phone companies also can enroll customers themselves. It often takes less time to enroll by calling them, so the state encourage this approach.
If a consumer feels they were unfairly denied assistance from Lifeline, then they should contact the Public Service Commission as soon as possible. This government agency regulates Lifeline across the state, and they can be reached at (601) 961-5414. they will ensure that all residents are treated fairly. The state will also persecute any fraudulent applications to Lifeline, as that has been a challenge in the past.
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