Telephone and Energy Programs for Eligible Persons

  1. Winter Protection Plan --

    This plan protects senior and low-income customers from service shutoff and high utility payments between December 1 and March 31. Persons enrolled in the plan are responsible for all electricity and natural gas used during the winter months. Low-income customers must pay at least 7% of their estimated annual bill and make regular payments on any past due bills during the protection period. At the end of the protection period, both low-income and senior citizens taking part in the plan must pay off any amounts owed in installments between April and November.

    Persons qualify for the plan if they meet any of the following criteria:

    • are age 65 or older,
    • receive Michigan Family Independence Agency (FIA) cash assistance,
    • receive food stamps or Medicaid, or
    • have a household income at or below 150% of poverty level.

    To apply contact your natural gas, electric utility companies, alternative energy supplier, or the Michigan Public Service Commission (800) 292-9555.

  2. Earned Income Credit --

    For 2001, a household making under $27,413 with a qualifying child and at least one worker in the household could receive a credit of at least $2,353. If no qualifying child, the credit could be over $353. Application for an Earned Income Credit is done through the U.S. Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service (800) 829-1040.

  3. Home Heating Credit --

    Qualified persons may receive $150 or more to help pay winter heating bills. Eligible customers must meet guidelines based on household income exemptions and heating costs. Apply for a Home Heating Credit if:

    • you have a low-income,
    • you receive public assistance, or
    • you are receiving unemployment compensation.

    For information, contact the Michigan Department of Treasury (800) 487-7000.

  4. Emergency Relief Program --

    This program helps low-income households pay part of their heating or electric bills and may help keep their utilities in service or have service restored. The program is available year-round and anyone can apply for assistance. For information call the local FIA office or (800) 292-5650.

  5. The Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program --

    This program makes telephone service more affordable to eligible low-income residents. Those who qualify could receive a discount in local telephone service of nearly $100 a year.

    Regular Lifeline --

  6. A monthly discount of $9.10 or 20%, whichever is greater, in local telephone service charges for large or price cap companies (senior citizens 65 years or older receive $9.10 or a 25% discount). Benefits for customers of most small telephone companies are based on a monthly discount of $8.25.

    A 50% reduction or up to $30, whichever is less, on local telephone line installation service charges.

    An option to block outgoing long distance service, free of charge.

Additional Lifeline programs available for certain customers:

USA Lifeline --

Ameritech customers who have no optional calling services (such as call waiting, call forwarding, etc.) or only one telephone line may receive:

    • A $10.20 decrease in monthly local telephone service charges.
    • Free local telephone installation service.
    • Special payment arrangements for past due bills.
    • An option to block outgoing long distance service, free of charge.

Enhanced Lifeline --

Individuals living on Tribal Lands may receive:

    • Monthly local telephone service for $1.00.
    • A 50% reduction or up to $30, whichever is less, on local telephone line installation service charges. You also can receive additional savings for installation service charges over $60. Ask your local telephone company for details.
    • An option to block outgoing long distance service, free of charge.

Who is eligible?

The maximum household income levels for eligibility in the Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program are:

150% of Poverty Guideline's Maximum Income
No. of Household Members
Monthly Income
Annual Income*
1 $1,074 $12,885
2 $1,451 $17,415
3 $1,829 $21,945
4 $2,206 $26,475
5 $2,584 $31,005
6 $2,961 $35,535
7 $3,339 $40,065
8 $3,716 $44,595

*Note: Add $4,530 for each additional household member. Family Independent Agency clients may qualify.

How do you apply?

Contact your local telephone company (customer service number provided on telephone bills) and ask about the Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program available to you, the criteria for qualifying, or to enroll. All local telephone companies in Michigan offer the Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program.