If you are on food stamps, you may qualify for EBT discounts on phone and internet service as part of the Federal Lifeline Program.
The Lifeline Program, which serves nearly 13 million Americans, is a Federal program that helps qualified low-income individuals lower their monthly cost of a phone (cell or home phone) or internet service.
You can apply your monthly Lifeline discount to either your phone or Internet service, but not both.
Each household is allowed one Lifeline discount. You can choose to sign up for either the phone or internet service for your household if you qualify.
There are two ways you can qualify for the Lifeline Program:
- If you participate in a qualifying federal assistance program
- If your household income meets a certain threshold
Eligibility Through Federal Assistance Program
You can get Lifeline if you (or someone in your household) participates in one of these federal assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension
- Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Tribal Head Start
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
To prove that you participate in one of the federal programs listed above, you will be required to provide a card (like an EBT Card for food stamps), letter, or official document, as proof that you participate in one of these programs when you apply for Lifeline.
The proof of participation document must include:
- Your name, or the name of your benefit qualifying person;
- The name of the Lifeline-qualifying program, such as food stamps;
- The government or Tribal program administrator or the managed care organization (MCO) that issued the document (if applicable); and
- An issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date that aligns with the benefit period.
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Qualify Through Your Child or Dependent
You can sign up for Lifeline if your child or dependent participates in any of the programs listed above.
Eligibility Through Household Income
You may qualify for the Lifeline program if your household income meets the guidelines. To be eligible, your household income must be at 135% or less of the federal poverty guidelines.
The table below shows the federal poverty guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States, D.C., and Territories and separate thresholds for Alaska and Hawaii.
It is based on the number of people in a household.
To prove your household income is at 135% or less of the federal poverty guidelines, you must submit one or more of the following documents:
- The prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Current income statement from an employer or paycheck stub
- A Social Security statement of benefits
- A Veterans Administration statement of benefits
- A retirement/pension statement of benefits
- An Unemployment/Workers’ Compensation statement of benefit
- Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
- Divorce decree, child support award, or other official document containing income information
If you plan to use a current pay stub as proof of income, you will be required to show pay stubs that cover three months in a row within the past twelve months.
Can You Really Get EBT Discounts on Phone and Internet Service?
As we have mentioned above, the Lifeline program currently serves 13 million Americans. You will at least get $9.25 towards your cell phone, home phone or internet service bill if you are approved for the program.
Based on your household income, you may qualify for a free service. The image below is an example of a Lifeline program cell phone plan as advertised by life wireless, a Lifeline program participant.
How to Apply for the Lifeline Program
Here is how to apply for the Lifeline Program:
Step 1 – Determine Eligibility
The first step in the application process is to determine if you qualify through participation in the federal assistance programs listed above or through the income guidelines shown above.
You may also qualify if your child or dependent participates in any of the programs listed above.
Step 2 – Apply
You can apply for Lifeline through a Lifeline Program provider in your state. To locate a lifeline program provider in your state, go to lifelinesupport.org, or call USAC’s toll-free number (1-888-641-8722).
If you live in Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota, you can apply for Lifeline directly with the Lifeline Program administrator online. To learn how click here.
When you apply, you will be required to complete an application. You will need the following information to apply:
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Last 4 digits of your Social Security number (or Tribal identification number)
You will also be asked by the company to provide one or more of the following as verification:
- Driver’s license (unexpired)
- Birth certificate
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Social Security card
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- Permanent resident card (unexpired)
- Permanent resident alien card (unexpired)
- U.S. government, military, state, or Tribal issued ID (unexpired)
- Passport (unexpired)
- Military discharge documentation
- Weapons permit (unexpired)
- Government assistance program document (that includes proof of identity)
- Statement of benefits from a qualifying program (that includes proof of identity)
- Unemployment or worker’s compensation statement of benefits
What Happens After I am Approved?
If you are approved for the Lifeline Program, you will receive your Lifeline discount toward your bill. Your Lifeline Program provider can also apply your discount to an existing service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the two most frequently asked questions about the Lifeline Program:
What is Considered a Household?
For the purpose of applying for the Lifeline program, each of the following is considered a household and must share one Lifeline discount:
- A married couple who live together are one household.
- A parent/guardian and child who live together are one household.
- An adult who lives with friends or family who financially support him/her are one household.
What if Someone In My Home Already Gets Lifeline?
If you live with another adult who gets Lifeline and you don’t believe you are a household, ask the Lifeline program provider to give you a Household Worksheet to complete.
Your application will be approved if it is determined you qualify and your worksheet shows there is more than one household at your address.
Other EBT Discounts
Great News for EBT Cardholders!! Amazon.com has announced that beneficiaries enrolled in some government assistance programs can now get discounts on Amazon Prime membership.
An Amazon Prime membership comes with amazing benefits, including FREE 2-day shipping, unlimited TV and movie streaming, access to AmazonFresh and Amazon Pantry, exclusive discounts on diapers, baby food, and more.
EBT Cardholders are included in this offer. If you have an EBT Card, you can now get Amazon Prime for $6.99 a month – which is over 50% off the regular membership of $14.99 a month.
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Check out these other articles on discounts for EBT Cardholders:
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- Discounted Internet for EBT Cardholders
- EBT Card Discounts and Freebies
- Amazon Prime Discount for EBT Recipients