Help with phone bills from Tennessee Lifeline service.
Families in Tennessee that receive public assistance or that meet low income guidelines can enroll into the Lifeline program, which provides discounts on their telephone service. There may be savings that occur on a monthly basis as well as assistance with establishing new service. There are many restrictions on Lifeline, and one of the most important is that only one phone plan can be enrolled per household, whether it is a cellular or home unit.
The Tennessee Regulatory Authority partners with phone companies as well as the Federal Communications Commission on this program. It is paid for by monthly surcharges that are on most peoples accounts, and those surcharges are used to provide discounts to consumers, with a focus on senior citizens.
There are two main conditions that need to be met in order to enroll into Lifeline. They include income requirements and/or the household needs to be receiving some form of government aid or benefits. The income requirements can change from year to year, but applicants will normally need to be at 150% of government poverty guidelines, factoring in family size. Or, someone that lives in the home in Tennessee can be receiving some form of public aid, including, but not limited to the following.
- Food programs - If the family receives SNAP or a child is enrolled into free school lunches, then they may quality for Lifeline.
- Energy programs - Customers that receive grants from LIHEAP or weatherization may apply.
- Medical care - Households with a member in Medicaid (TennCare) or on SSI disability can receive a discount from Lifeline.
- Many other benefits may be eligible, including TANF.
How to apply for LifeLine
When applying, the customer needs to inquire at their phone company. Almost all companies participate, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Safelink and many others. They should call their provider and ask about enrolling into Lifeline.
Your local telephone company or telecommunications service provider has all forms and applications that need to be completed by the customer. Be prepared with proof of income, savings, assets, and information on the benefits you receive. It will also take time to process all the paperwork and for the discounts to begin. The company has the right to see this information from the consumer.
As noted, Lifeline is only for one landline or cellular phone per home, and it needs to be considered to be the primary unit. Also, if someone does not have a phone right now, then the program can even help pay for the costs to install or activate a new one, and this is known is LifeLink. This is done to ensure that a low income family always has some form of communication available to them, in particular for an emergency situation.
The savings provided to consumers will last for one year. The Lifeline program reduces the monthly local service portion of your wireless cell or home telephone bill by several dollars per month over that timeframe. It will not pay for any special features such as long distance or call waiting, but instead the savings are on the base fees.
Also, if an application is incorrect, the state of Tennessee as well as the Federal Communications Commission may decide to sue that consumer, so ensure the application is accurate. In addition, they will need to repay any discount they were provided and the household will also not be able to participate in the program.
If additional questions come up, families should call the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, Consumer Services Division. The main address is 502 Deaderick Street, 4th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243, and the phone number is 1-800-342-8359. While the program is mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it is administered at the local state level, and the consumer division can assist if need be.