HARRISBURG – In coordination with a national effort to reach those in need of telecommunications assistance, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recognizes Sept. 9-13 as Lifeline Awareness Week, to help about 403,000 low-income Pennsylvanians stay connected through the Lifeline Program.
“Lifeline is intended to help make communications more affordable and more accessible for low-income households, helping them stay connected to information about jobs, family, health care, schools, and emergency services,” said Commissioner Norman J. Kennard at the PUC’s Aug. 29 Public Meeting.
The Lifeline Program is a federal government benefit program that provides eligible low-income consumers or households with a discount on monthly service for voice (telephone) service, broadband internet access service (or BIAS, usually called internet service), or a combined telephone/internet service product from a landline or wireless provider. This helps ensure these consumers have the opportunities and security that telephone and internet services provide, including being able to connect to important services. The program provides a $9.25 per household per month discount on a consumer telephone or internet service from their landline or wireless provider. The discount appears in the form of a reduction on the service provider’s bill. A consumer qualifies for Lifeline if they are at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in specific federal programs, including: Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans’ Pension and Survivor Benefit, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Consumers or households receiving Lifeline support must continue to certify that they are eligible for such support. A service provider will notify such consumers or households in advance. A consumer may re-qualify for Lifeline assistance based on income (at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines) or if they participate in these same federal programs. Either of these qualifications will maintain eligibility until the next recertification. A consumer who fails to recertify by the date on the notice must re-apply for Lifeline assistance. More information on program eligibility is available on the Commission’s website.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
# # #