Ohio Lifeline telephone program.
Telephone companies across Ohio participate in the Lifeline program in partnership with the federal government as well as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, or PUCO. It provides discounts on monthly services, for both home and cell phones, and in some cases there is also assistance for any installation or connection fees.
The service provides qualified customers with a discount or some form of credit on their monthly bill. The objective of the program is to help ensure low income families can afford to pay for their service and have some type of access to communication. This can be important when an emergency comes up, or maybe a senior needs to stay in contact with friends or relatives for medical reasons. Lifeline can help these individuals, and many others that meet the guidelines in Ohio, keep their telephone service connected while they work to increase their income and address their financial hardship.
The Lifeline program in Ohio is wide ranging. Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, AT&T, Assurance Wireless, Verizon, Frontier Communications, Cricket Communications, and many others participate. As a matter of fact, almost every phone company in Ohio will offer some version of Lifeline, though the income limits may be slightly different. Consumers can also inquire into any other assistance or payment plans they offer.
The discount will be provided on a monthly basis for home phone and/or cellular service. There may also be deposits waived as well as other bills or costs, such as installation. If a households wants some features, such as call waiting or other features on their wireless phone, they will need to pay for those separately.
Several requirements need to be met by applicants in order to receive a discount from Lifeline. Clients will need to meet the low income guidelines that are in place, that are based on roughly 150% of federal government levels. However there can also be assistance offered for those residents that receive some form of federal government or state of Ohio benefit. So there is more than one eligibility criteria in place that can be met.
Families that receive, or have a member of the household that receives, Medicaid, SNAP Food stamps, SSI Disability Assistance, Section 8 housing vouchers, SSDI for the blind, or social security may also qualify for savings. In addition to that, many Ohio families that are able to enroll also receive low income energy bill help from HEAP or weatherization.
In almost all cases, residents on some form of public assistance can qualify. So they may also be able to receive telephone bill assistance from the Lifeline program as well as support for those other utilities or entitlements. Other qualified benefits are Ohio Works First (TANF) as well as the National School Free Lunch Program.
There can only be one phone covered per household, and it can be a cellular or landline. This will be one unit for all members of the home, regardless of how many people that is. In addition, the discount from Lifeline will only last for one year, and then the individual will need to reapply and also meet the income conditions that are in place at that time as well. So the telecommunication provider, or the state of Ohio, will continue to require proof of income, and government benefits, and other supporting documentation.
To apply, people need to call their telephone company directly, or they can call their cellular provider. The applications are processed by those companies, working in partnership with state regulators. Another option is for individuals to contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which can be reached at (800) 686-7826, as they regulate Lifeline and can help address any disputes. Staff are also available to answer questions of callers if and when needed.