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New Mexico Lifeline telephone bill assistance program.

Financial assistance for paying telephone or cell bills is offered in New Mexico. The programs that are available are focused on very low income families, and in fact the total household income needs to be close to poverty levels (based on the number of people living in the home). Resources such as Lifeline as well as Link-Up provide New Mexico residents savings on their monthly phone bills, credits to an account, and assistance in paying for connection fees.

There are various limits in place as well as income guidelines that need to be met. The program is administering by all of the major landline and wireless companies that operate in the state. However a family can only apply to Lifeline (or its equivalents) at one provider. They can also only receive help in paying one phone bill. So the government benefit will not allow households to enroll more than one unit into the program.

The most common form of assistance is the New Mexico Lifeline program. This will give people a discount on their service. While the monthly credit will vary, it may range from $5 to $20 per month depending on the family, their income, and overall financial condition.

Lifeline will cover either landlines (standard, traditional home phones) or cellular service. There are also dozens of companies that participate. There are of course the major ones, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. But many of the small companies also enroll into Lifeline, including Century Link, Frontier Communications, Sacred Wind, Plateau Telacom, and many others.

Link-Up is another federal funded telephone assistance program. This will help very low income families pay the costs associated with activating the account. The maximum dollar amount of aid given will be $30, which will be in the form of a credit placed on their account. Some of the companies, such as SafeLink Wireless, may also give the New Mexico resident a free cell phone as part of this program.

Many families in New Mexico, such as senior citizens or the disabled living on a fixed income, often struggle to get a phone for their home or apartment. The up-front fees can often be prohibitive. This is especially true for those people that live on a pension, SSI payments, or other benefits. To address this need, Link-Up will pay some of the bills involved.





Families that are on welfare or public benefits, will generally automatically be eligible. So if a household gets Public Housing / Section 8, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, food stamps, or TANF grants, then Link-Up is an option for them. Or they may also be qualified for Life-Line under the correct circumstances.

More unique to New Mexico is a telephone assistance program known as Tribal Lifeline. This service is only focused on residents that live on a tribal reservation or on pueblo land. The benefits provided here to very low income families are significant. Their monthly phone or cell phone bill will be reduced to as low as $1 per month. As with all of the other options referenced above, it only covers one phone per home.

The applications are processed directly with the phone company. This means that the person needs to call a company, such as AT&T, and tell them they want to apply for assistance. The customer service representatives will review the application and proceed accordingly. If a resident feels their application for Lifeline s being denied based on circumstances other than merit, they can dial the Consumer Relations Division of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, and that phone number is 1-888-427-5772.




By Jon McNamara

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