Low income Texas families and those on public aid can receive help with paying their telephone bills. There is a government assistance program known as Lifeline which will offer consumers a discount each and every month. Households that need help in paying for the deposit or the initial set up fees on a new account can also receive financial help from Link-Up, which is another component of this government funded program.
When applying for either one of these options, the customer needs to work directly with their telephone or cellular company. They process the paperwork and will enroll people into these discount plans. However the Public Utility Commission of Texas oversees it across the state. This agency can also help answer questions and will ensure that all families are treated fairly.
All telecommunication companies that operate in Texas need to provide these programs to their customers. So whether someone has a home phone from AT&T, or a cellular phone from Assurance or Verizon, they can enroll for the discounts. Other companies that consumers tend to use with the Lifeline service include Sprint, T Mobile, or Safelink Wireless. But all companies need to offer it. More details are below.
This will help pay phone as well as cellular bills on a monthly basis. It only covers a portion of what is due, so it is in effect a discount. The savings will normally be around $10 to $15 dollars per month. One key component of this is that is only pay for the standard phone service itself, such as local call. It will not any special features people add, such as long distance, voice messaging or non-standard internet fees.
Residents of the state of Texas that have a very low income or that receive government assistance will be qualified. If someone already receives public aid, they will automatically be able to enroll as well. They just need to process the paperwork..
This means that if a member of a household receives benefits including, but not limited to, Medicaid, SNAP food stamps, free lunches for their child, SSI - Supplemental Security Income, Section 8, CHIP health care, or cash grants from TANF, they can enroll into Lifeline. Other government benefits will qualify them as well.
Even if a family has not enrolled into one of those programs, if they have a low income they can still receive government assistance for paying their home or cellular phone bills. An income scale is in place that considers the number of people living in the home. The cut-offs will range, but households with 4 members and less than $40,000 total income may qualify. Those cut-offs can also be lower or higher based on size of the family.
Link-Up is another government supported program that can help working poor families establish service. This assistance is also for people that live on Tribal-Lands in Texas. The savings can be fairly significant, and the customer will receive as much as $100 on the set up of their account. Some providers will even give customers a new cell phone if they sign a contract with them.
Not only that, but it will allow a family to enter into a payment plan for any additional costs that are due. This will provide them more time to pay off the bills they owe. The main reason for this is to ensure that all households in Texas, such as those with a senior member, have access to an affordable phone.
The income cut offs as well as benefit criteria are the same as Lifeline. This means that residents that receive assistance from food stamps, LIHEAP, and similar resources will automatically be able to enroll.
In addition, the state of Texas can provide free government cell phones to some residents. This will in effect be an enhancement to the Link-Up service as it will provide additional assistance to low income families that qualify. The phones are given through partnerships with companies such as SafeLink or its main competitor in Texas, which is Assurance.
To apply for either the monthly discount on telephone bills from Lifeline, or to get financial aid to set up service, families should call their current or any other phone company they want to do business with. People will need to reapply each year as well, as the discount only lasts one year. Or they can dial the Public Utility Commission of Texas with questions or additional help in enrolling, and that phone number is 1-866-454-8387.
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