By Samantha Vercellino
It’s hard for many of us to imagine not being able to dial a friend, text mom or schedule a work event in our mobile calendars.
Phone service has become so intertwined with our daily lives that we forget too many people can’t afford even basic telephone service, and thus lack access to emergency services and community resources.
In an effort to help everyone connect to family, friends, jobs and vital resources, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) have declared Sept. 14-20 “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week.”
This annual event is designed to promote the Lifeline Assistance Program—a federal/State program that makes telephone service more affordable to qualified low-income consumers.
For the past 30 years, the Lifeline program has helped eligible low-income individuals—many of them elderly and/or disabled—stay connected to the outside world by providing discounts on basic monthly telephone service.
Under the federal Lifeline program, qualified participants can receive a basic telephone service discount of at least $9.25 per month while many states offer discounts on top of that. For the last decade, Lifeline discounts have also been available for wireless plans as well as traditional landline service.
Consumers who have an income that is at or below 135 percent of the federal Poverty Guidelines OR participate in a public-assistance program, such as Medicaid, Federal Public House Assistance or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), can sign up for the Lifeline program. (Check to see if you qualify.)
If you think you qualify, call your local phone company to confirm your eligibility and to enroll. In Illinois, the two big service providers are AT&T (1-888-256-5378) and Frontier Communications (1-800-921-8101).
As our world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, it’s important that we give everyone a fair chance to find jobs, access health care, and keep in touch with friends and family.
Help us spread the word! Make sure your friends and family are connected.