Create a lifeline

Get Started - Universal Service Administrative Company

Get Started - Universal Service Administrative Company

Lifeline is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that lowers the monthly cost of phone and internet services. Eligible consumers may receive up to $9.25 off their phone or internet service; eligible consumers living on Tribal lands may receive up to $34.25 off their phone or internet service.

What is your role?

Lifeline consumers must apply for Lifeline and then sign up with a participating phone or internet company, recertify annually, and keep their information up to date.

Note: Are you a consumer who wants to receive the Lifeline benefit? Click the Get Lifeline button below to visit our consumer website.

Get Lifeline

Service providers enroll qualified consumers in Lifeline systems, submit reimbursement claims, and file annual documentation to meet FCC reporting requirements.

USAC administers the Lifeline program following the FCC’s Rules and Orders. Specifically, USAC is responsible for recertifying subscribers, determining consumer eligibility, and managing the Lifeline Support Center.

This website is for service providers, state and federal partners, Tribal partners, and consumer advocates. If you are a consumer who wants to receive the Lifeline benefit, click the Get Lifeline button above to visit our consumer website.

Service Provider First Steps

The Lifeline program operates on a rolling basis, so service providers can complete the registration process and begin offering Lifeline discounts at any time. Below is an overview of the registration process; read our Service Provider Toolkit for a more detailed walkthrough.

Join the Program

In order to access Lifeline systems, service providers must complete the following four steps:

  1. Become an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC)*
  2. Create a Compliance Plan
  3. Obtain a Study Area Code (SAC)
  4. Obtain a Service Provider Identification Number (498 ID/SPIN)

Visit our Join Lifeline as an ETC webpage to learn more about how to complete each step.

*Note: Service providers will need to work with a state public utility commission or the FCC to complete this step. See the linked webpage for more information.

Set Up Lifeline System Access

Service providers must use Lifeline systems to enroll subscribers and file reimbursement claims. Learn more about the different Lifeline systems before you set up system access for your ETC.

  1. Assign a 497 Officer
    • In USAC’s E-file system, the 498 Officer (Company Officer on the FCC Form 498) assigns a 497 Officer who is responsible for certifying reimbursement claims and creating the ETC Administrator user role In NLAD.
  2. Register in the Representative Accountability Database (RAD)
    • Service provider employees and enrollment representatives self-register for a Representative ID, which will be needed to perform transactions in NLAD and the National Verifier
  3. Create National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) accounts for service provider employees
    • The 497 Officer creates the organization’s NLAD account
    • The 497 Officer assigns the ETC Administrator, who will primarily manages day-to-day responsibilities for service provider’s access to USAC’s systems
    • The ETC Administrator assigns any additional employees as ETC subaccounts

*Note: Visit our Account Types webpage for an overview of roles and access privileges.

Begin Enrolling Subscribers

The ETC Administrator or the appropriate ETC subaccounts can begin enrolling consumers as soon as their NLAD account has been created. On the first day of each month, USAC takes a snapshot of subscribers in NLAD that are eligible to be claimed for reimbursement for the previous data month.

Tribal Partners

Lifeline Tribal partners may work with USAC’s Lifeline team to increase program awareness and support eligible consumers and subscribers to complete program processes. Tribal partners include Tribal governments and government agencies and nonprofits serving Tribal communities.

For more information on Tribal consumers for Tribal partners, visit the Enhanced Tribal Benefit webpage, or email the USAC Tribal Liaison.

State and Federal Partners

Lifeline state and federal partners may work with USAC’s Lifeline team to increase program awareness, build and maintain database connections to qualify consumers for the Lifeline program, and support eligible consumers and subscribers to complete program processes.

For more information for state and federal partners, visit the State and Federal Partners webpage.

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Lifeline program is separate from the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a long-term, $14 billion FCC program that helps low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices. Please note that consumers and service providers can participate in both programs. To learn about the program, service providers should visit our ACP webpages. Consumers can apply for the program at

Contact Us

Find the appropriate Lifeline program contacts by reviewing Lifeline’s Contact Us webpage.

Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel
Spotlights Lifeline Program 

During Lifeline Awareness Week, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel addressed the range of Americans who can receive support from the FCC's Lifeline program.

Lifeline is an FCC program that helps make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. Lifeline provides subscribers a discount on qualifying monthly telephone service, broadband Internet service, or bundled voice-broadband packages purchased from participating wireline or wireless providers. The discount helps ensure that low-income consumers can afford 21st century broadband and the access it provides to jobs, healthcare, and educational resources.

Lifeline During Coronavirus Pandemic

To help keep Americans connected during the coronavirus pandemic, the FCC has temporarily waived recertification and reverification requirements for subscribers residing on Tribal lands, and has extended those waivers until January 31, 2023. The latest FCC waiver order was released September 30, 2022 (download PDF: and it will help ensure that Lifeline subscribers are not involuntarily removed from the Lifeline program during this time of national crisis. All other Lifeline waivers previously in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have ended.

If you're looking for more information about the Affordable Connectivity Program go here.

How Lifeline Works

Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for those on Tribal lands. Subscribers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a wireline or a wireless service, but they may not receive a discount on both services at the same time. Lifeline also supports broadband Internet service and broadband-voice bundles. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household.

Lifeline is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, commonwealth, territory, and on Tribal lands. The Lifeline program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC is responsible for helping consumers apply for the program, understand eligibility requirements, and keep their benefit current through an annual recertification process. USAC's website provides additional information regarding the program, including program requirements.

To participate in the Lifeline program, consumers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs. You can see if you are eligible by reviewing the information available at (click "Do I Qualify?").

National Verifier for Lifeline Eligibility

To apply for Lifeline, a consumer must generally use the National Verifier application system. The National Verifier is a centralized system established by the FCC and operated by USAC that verifies Lifeline applicants' eligibility and recertifies subscriber eligibility annually. Consumers who would like assistance from a service provider when applying can use the "Companies Near Me" tool to locate a Lifeline program service provider in their area.

Please note that consumers in California (except broadband-only consumers), Texas, and Oregon will continue to apply for the federal Lifeline benefit through the state's existing application process as they do today. For broadband-only consumers in California, consumers will need to apply through the National Verifier application system and the National Verifier will check the consumer's eligibility. For specific directions on how to apply for Lifeline in all three states, visit the National Verifier and select the relevant state from the drop-down menu and press "Get Started."

If you have questions about your application, or would like an application mailed to you, contact Lifeline at (800) 234-9473 or  [email protected].


Program Rules

Key rules include the following:

  • Lifeline is available only to subscribers whose eligibility can be verified by checking a program eligibility database or by submitting documentation demonstrating their eligibility.
  • Only one Lifeline benefit is permitted per household. Federal rules prohibit subscribers from receiving more than one Lifeline service. If a subscriber or his or her household currently has more than one Lifeline-discounted service, they must de-enroll from other Lifeline services immediately or be subject to penalties.
  • Only low-income subscribers who have been found to be eligible are qualified to enroll.
  • Subscribers must recertify their eligibility every year and should respond to any requests from the National Verifier's or state Lifeline administrator to recertify eligibility. Subscribers who fail to recertify their eligibility will be de-enrolled from the Lifeline program. Please note that, pursuant to a waiver approved by the FCC, recertification requirements for those subscribers living on Tribal lands has been suspended until January 31, 2023.

Enhanced Lifeline Benefits for Tribal Lands

Because telephone subscribership levels on Tribal lands are the lowest in the country, enhanced Lifeline benefits are available to low-income residents of Tribal lands. You can find out more about which areas are eligible Tribal lands by visiting this site:

Link Up, another federal benefit program, is a one-time benefit, per address, that reduces the initial installation or activation fees of certain Lifeline providers offering telephone service on Tribal lands.

What benefits are available through the Lifeline program's support for Tribal lands?

For low-income consumers living on Tribal lands, Lifeline provides a monthly discount of up to $34.25 off the cost of telephone service, broadband Internet service, or bundled services (either wireline or wireless). This discount consists of up to $9.25 (which is available to all eligible low-income subscribers across the United States) plus up to an additional $25 in enhanced support (which is available only to eligible low-income subscribers living on Tribal lands). Some states offer additional monthly discounts through their own Lifeline programs.

Tribal Lands Link Up provides qualified subscribers living on Tribal lands with a one-time discount of up to $100 on the initial installation or activation of telephone service at their primary residence. For service initiation charges of up to $200, Link Up also provides a deferred, no-interest payment plan to the subscriber for up to one year. Subscribers can request Link Up once for each change of their primary residential (home) address. Tribal Link Up support is only offered to carriers who are building out infrastructure on Tribal lands, so not all carriers may be discounting their activation fee. Consumers can check with their Lifeline provider to see if they offer Link Up.

What limitations are there on Lifeline and Link Up?

Federal rules prohibit qualifying low-income consumers from receiving more than one Lifeline service at the same time. For instance, low-income subscribers who qualify may receive a Lifeline discount on either a home telephone or a wireless telephone service, but they may not receive a Lifeline discount on both services at the same time.

Additionally, only one Lifeline service may be obtained per household. "Household" is defined as any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address as one economic unit. An "economic unit" is defined as "all adult individuals contributing to and sharing in the income and expenses of a household."

Lifeline support is available to eligible low-income subscribers living in group living facilities. Lifeline applicants may demonstrate when initially enrolling in the program that any other Lifeline recipients residing at their residential address are part of a separate household. Similarly, federal rules prohibit qualifying low-income consumers from receiving more than one Tribal Link Up discount at a primary residence.


  • What is the current benefit under the Lifeline Program?  
  • What is the enhanced benefit amount for Tribal Lands?  
  • How can I determine if I am eligible?  
  • How do I apply?  
  • What documentation do I need to provide when I apply for Lifeline service?  
  • Can I get more than one discounted service?  
  • How is "household" defined for purposes of the Lifeline Program?  
  • How often do I need to verify my eligibility?  
  • What if I have free Lifeline?  
  • Who can I contact if I have an issue with a mobile phone or other hardware provided by my Lifeline service provider?  
  • Who do I contact if I have a disability and want help applying for Lifeline?  


Report Fraud

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau maintains a dedicated Lifeline Fraud Tip Line – 1-855-4LL-TIPS (or 1-855-455-8477) – and an email address – [email protected]. gov – to facilitate reporting of possible fraud in the program.

Please provide as much detail as possible, including the name and contact information of the individuals involved and the companies they are using to receive Lifeline-supported phone service.

Lifeline Across America Consumer Outreach

Lifeline Across America is a federal-state working group established in 2005 to review outreach efforts on the Lifeline program and provide state, local, and Tribal entities with information and resources to help ensure that low-income consumers are aware of the program and understand the requirements for participation. Its members include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA). The Lifeline Across America Working Group initiated a study and compiled a report in 2006 where it presented its observations and conclusions concerning best practices for outreach on the Lifeline program.

Lifeline Across America Media Contacts

NARUC: Regina Davis, [email protected]
NASUCA: Barrett C. Sheridan, (717) 783-5048, [email protected]


ASL Video: How Lifeline Works

If you are a person with a disability and need assistance with your Lifeline application, contact the Lifeline Support Center at or call 800-243-9473.

If you have a question about whether your Lifeline service and equipment is accessible, contact the FCC's Disability Rights Office at 202-418-2517 (voice), at 844-432-2275 (videophone for American Sign Language (ASL) users), or [email protected].

Print Out

Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications (pdf)


Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Lifebuoy or Leonardo's ring?

October 18

Administration of the Arbat district of Moscow

Have you ever wondered how great discoveries are made? The author of the theory of relativity, after a short reflection on this question, replied: “Let's assume that everyone knows about something, that it is impossible to do. However, there is one ignoramus who does not know this. He makes the discovery." Leonardo da Vinci was such a great “ignoramus”, who was ahead of his time by several centuries, who made a number of discoveries and inventions, many of which we currently use. Among his inventions is a lifebuoy, the image of which is given in the notes of a scientist with the inscription below: "How to save a life in the event of a storm or a shipwreck." There is an assumption that Leonardo came up with a lifeline because he was afraid of the coming flood. In the scientist's drawing, the lifebuoy looks exactly like the modern one, and if it had been put into practice in Leonardo's time, it could have saved many lives. But ... history does not tolerate the subjunctive mood, and lifebuoys came into use only in the first half of the twentieth century, when the Main Naval Headquarters of the Royal Navy of Great Britain in 1915 decided to create a simple, cheap and convenient means of rescue on the water, which would become a standard in itself. The tests were carried out between two cork wood models: in the form of a circle and in the form of a horseshoe. Both models had a sagging rope fastened along the entire length to facilitate the retention of the life-saving equipment by drowning people - a handrail, also invented by Leonardo. Is it necessary to say that the circle won? And to determine the final dimensions of the circle, the Royal Navy invited the writer Arthur Conan Doyle, known to us from the stories about Sherlock Holmes, who during the First World War proposed a number of innovations for the English army and navy. These dimensions are used throughout the world to this day. The size of the outer diameter of the rescue equipment is 760-680 millimeters, the inner diameter is 440 millimeters. Weight - at least 2.5 kilograms, buoyancy - about 14 kilograms. Today, circles are made from cork, foam or polyurethane foam with a PVC sheath and are painted bright orange or red, often with a few white stripes. “Along with the end of Alexandrov, a life buoy is the fastest and most reliable way to save a person’s life on the water. That is why the Directorate for the Central District of the Department for Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Fire Safety of the City of Moscow regularly organizes training for employees of parks and recreation areas without swimming in rescue techniques with the involvement of employees of the Krymsky Bridge search and rescue station and emergency rescue squad No. 1, located in the CAO. During the classes, the rescuers talk about actions in the event of an emergency on the water and demonstrate to the audience the supply of the end of Aleksandrov and the life buoy, and then the park employees train in helping a conditional victim with the help of rescue equipment, ”says Anatoly, Deputy Head of the Department of the Civil Defense and Safety Department for the Central District Anatoly Martynkov. The Directorate for the Central Administrative District of the Department of Civil Defense and Safety reminds that in case of an emergency you need to call the rescue service by phone 101 or 112.

Fires, Arthur, Leonardo da Vinci,

The world needs a digital lifeline by Riccardo Puliti

In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Riccardo Puliti

WASHINGTON, DC – In times of crisis, digital technologies provide a lifeline to keep people, communities and businesses running. From the COVID-19 pandemicbefore violent conflict and natural disasters, being connected allowed us to continue to work, learn, and communicate.

How policymakers responded to these emergencies played a big role. In particular, as a new paper from the Development Committee of the World Bank Group shows, more flexible regulation has accelerated digitalization and spurred innovation. In today's global context of multiple overlapping crises, this should become the norm. A reliable and resilient Internet infrastructure is a fundamental necessity.

During the pandemic, as more and more people went online, internet use around the world skyrocketed. In 2020, 800 million people connected to the internet for the first time, and 58 low- and middle-income countries began using digital payments for COVID-19 relief. To deal with this surge, governments and regulators in more than 80 countries have rapidly changed regulations, including those governing the allocation of the radio frequency spectrum, the electromagnetic waves used for wireless communications. In Ghana, regulators have allocated temporary radio frequencies to high-demand networks and all mobile service providers have been given permission to expand coverage. This has improved the quality of service for more than 30 million mobile subscribers, allowing them to “walk” to work, study online and access basic services.

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