PUC encourages awareness of Lifeline phone program

From staff reports

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is encouraging consumers across the state, especially those most vulnerable to social isolation, to understand the resources available through the Lifeline program to help them stay connected to their voice and internet services.

“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 PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “Because of the recent COVID-19 emergency, more consumers whose incomes have been reduced may now be eligible to qualify for this program.”

The PUC is partnering with the Department of Aging and other state agencies and community organizations to increase awareness of Lifeline.

“Older Pennsylvanians risk becoming socially isolated during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres said. “Staying connected and engaged with family and friends is a great opportunity for them to reduce their likelihood of feeling isolated and dealing with related issues like anxiety and depression,” Torres added.

Lifeline is a federal government benefit that provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount on their phone or internet bill. The benefit can be used for voice (telephone), internet service or a combined telephone/internet service product from a landline or wireless provider.

The program provides a $7.25 per household, per month discount on landline or wireless voice service and a $9.25 per household, per month discount on wireless or landline internet service.

A consumer qualifies for Lifeline if they are at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in specific federal programs.

Consumers or households that apply for Lifeline will be checked to see if they are eligible.

More information on program eligibility, how to apply and recertify is available on the PUC website.