USAC and the FCC have taken action to ensure that consumers have access to the connectivity services they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lifeline Support Center remains fully operational.
Additional support measures taken due to COVID-19 include:
- More flexibility for consumers. The FCC and USAC have temporarily adjusted the income and identification documentation requirements to allow individuals recently unemployed or social distancing due to the pandemic to more easily complete their Lifeline application.
- Continued service for consumers. The FCC temporarily paused through August 31 Lifeline Program integrity reviews, as well as usage, recertification, reverification, and general de-enrollment requirements, to ensure consumers are not involuntarily de-enrolled from the Lifeline Program during the pandemic.
- State agency access to the National Verifier. The FCC and USAC expanded access to the Lifeline National Verifier to enable state agencies to assist consumers with the Lifeline application process during the pandemic, much like Lifeline service providers do today.
- Relief for rural, Tribal consumers. The FCC temporarily waived its rules to allow Lifeline providers to begin providing service to eligible consumers residing in rural areas on Tribal lands even if those consumers have not yet submitted certain supporting documentation to complete their Lifeline application.
More Flexibility for Consumers
On April 29, the FCC issued an order temporarily adjusting the acceptable documentation guidelines for Lifeline. Changes to these guidelines, which were recently extended in an FCC order released June 1, will ease the documentation burden on those who are recently unemployed due to the pandemic.
Income Eligibility Documentation
One way that a consumer who qualifies for Lifeline based on their income can prove eligibility is to provide three consecutive months of income documentation. Due to the pandemic and recent unemployment, there may be eligible consumers who are unable able to meet this requirement.
In response, the FCC waived its requirements for income-based eligibility documentation as follows:
Through August 31, 2020, consumers who do not have three consecutive months of income documentation may provide an official document that confirms their current income information. This may include a notice of unemployment benefit payments or a notice of a successfully submitted application for unemployment benefits.
To prove a consumer’s current household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, as an alternative to acceptable documentation already allowed by the Lifeline Program’s rules, consumers may submit an official document that, at a minimum, includes:
- The consumer’s name, or the name of consumer’s benefit qualifying person (BQP);
- Their current income information; and
- A date within the last 3 months.
Additionally, in light of states issuing blanket extensions on the expiration of drivers licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, USAC is temporarily accepting driver’s licenses or state identification cards that have recently expired, when needed to complete a Lifeline application. USAC’s acceptable documentation guidelines previously required that a document used to prove identity must be unexpired, if a document (such as a driver’s license or state identification card) has an expiration date on it.
Through August 31, 2020, USAC will accept driver’s licenses or state identification cards that are expired, as long as the identification expired on or after March 1, 2020.