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AG Nessel's Consumer Alert Notifies Michiganders of Simplified Application Process for National Lifeline Program

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a consumer alert today 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 simplified application process.

The FCC Lifeline program provides low-income subscribers with a discount on monthly telephone, broadband internet or voice-broadband bundled services purchased from participating providers.

Individuals who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be able to verify their income-based eligibility for Lifeline as it normally requires three consecutive months of income documentation. As a result, the FCC will provide a waiver until June 30 allowing consumers to prove their income-based eligibility with an official document showing their current income information, such as a notice of unemployment benefits.

In addition, current Lifeline subscribers who would normally need to recertify or face removal from the program have automatically been granted an extension until June 30, 2020, ensuring no one will be involuntarily removed.

“This pandemic has left many without work, and the loss of internet or phone service would make it far more difficult for someone to apply for and ultimately obtain employment,” said Nessel. “The FCC’s decision to make it easier for people to access and remain enrolled in the Lifeline program is the right call.”

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.

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).   
  • Applicants 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.  

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. Contact your local landline telephone company, wireless provider or broadband provider to apply.

For further assistance, Michiganders should call the MPSC at 800-292-9555.