Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a consumer alert to ensure Michiganders who are now unemployed due to COVID-19 and qualify for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline program are aware of a newly simplified application process.
The Lifeline program is in place to provide low-income subscribers with a discount on monthly telephone, broadband internet, or voice-broadband bundled services purchased from participating providers.
In June 2019, Michigan joined more than 20 other states in becoming a participant in the National Verifier database– a three-step process to qualify for the Lifeline program.
Many Michiganders are still facing challenges in certifying for their unemployment benefits and need access to the internet to apply for jobs. These individuals should not have to face a service interruption of their communication channels that could ultimately affect their ability to obtain their access to income.
To qualify for the federal program, applicants must have:
An income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level.
Alternatively applicants must:
Receive either Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aid, formerly known as food stamps; Supplemental Security Income; or Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8).
Customers who participate in Tribal programs and live on federally recognized Tribal land or are part of the Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits program also qualify.
Individuals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic may not be able to verify their income-based eligibility for Lifeline with the normally required three consecutive months of income documentation. As a result, the FCC will now provide a waiver until June 30 that allows consumers to prove their income-based eligibility with an official document showing their current income information, such as a notice of unemployment benefits.
Current Lifeline subscribers who would normally need to recertify, re-verify, or face removal from the program have automatically been granted an extension until June 30, 2020, to ensure no one is involuntarily removed.
The Michigan Lifeline program, housed within the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is also available to qualified residents for assistance with landline services only.
For details on both the state and federal Lifeline programs and to better understand how to apply, Michiganders can visit the MPSC website. You should contact your local landline telephone company, wireless provider, or broadband provider to apply.
Michiganders can call the MPSC for additional assistance at 800-292-9555.