MPSC: Telephone Discounts Available to Low-Income and Eligible Senior Customers

Contact:  Judy Palnau, 517-241-3323
Agency:  Michigan Public Service Commission


September 8, 2014 -
As part of Lifeline Awareness Week, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today highlighted the discount telephone service available to low-income and eligible senior customers in Michigan.

"The Lifeline telephone discount program enables low-income customers to connect to the nation's communications network, find jobs, access health care services, reach out to family, and call for help in an emergency," said MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. "The Lifeline program provides substantial discounts - up to $148 a year for certain customers. Without question, the Lifeline program can be a lifeline for low-income telephone customers."

To qualify for Lifeline in Michigan, the customer's household income must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or the customer must participate in one of the following assistance programs: Medicaid; food assistance; supplemental security income (SSI); federal public housing assistance (Section 8); the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); the national school free lunch program; or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

All landline telephone service providers and some wireless telephone service providers offer Lifeline discounts in Michigan. To apply, customers should contact their local telephone or wireless provider. Rules permit one discount per household, and Lifeline subscribers must recertify their eligibility every year.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at least half of the telephone customers who are eligible for the Lifeline program do not take advantage of the monthly discounts available to them.

The FCC recently implemented comprehensive reforms to modernize the program and reduce burdens on carriers by establishing a uniform, interim flat rate of reimbursement, allowing carriers to obtain a subscriber's signature electronically and streamlining enrollment through uniform, nationwide eligibility criteria. These reforms are on track to save $2 billion by the end of 2014.

The MPSC's Lifeline consumer tips sheet reflects the latest changes to the program, including income guidelines and other details.

The lifelinesupport.org website includes a list of telecommunications providers by state. Eligible customers, however, may want to contact an individual provider to check on its Lifeline participation.

More information is also available on the federal Lifeline website: lifeline.gov.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

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