Participation in the Lifeline Assistance (Lifeline) program increased by nearly 12 percent, according to the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Annual Lifeline Report. The Lifeline program makes telephone service more affordable for low-income residents.
“Imagine being without a phone. The fact is that some Florida residents are phoneless year-round, and we want them to know help is available,” said Matthew M. Carter II, PSC Chairman. “Each year, through our outreach efforts, many eligible Floridians sign up for Lifeline and stay connected to family, as well as to vital community services.”
As of June 2008, nearly 184,000 eligible customers participated in the Florida Lifeline program. In its 2008 report sent to the Governor and the Legislature, the PSC attributed increased Lifeline participation to the automatic enrollment process initiated in April 2007 by the PSC and Florida’s Department of Children and Families.
Under the federal Lifeline program, telephone customers who participate in certain public assistance programs are entitled to receive a basic telephone service discount of at least $13.50 per month, a savings of $162 per year. Link-Up Florida (Link-Up) provides a 50 percent reduction in the telephone service installation charge, up to a maximum of $30, for qualifying households that do not currently have telephone service.
“A telephone is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” said Chairman Carter. “In difficult economic times, it’s important for residents to know about these benefits. A telephone offers safety and peace of mind in emergencies and in everyday living.”
Chairman Carter added, “We’re working with telephone companies, the Office of Public Counsel, and many other groups to promote Link-Up and Lifeline, and we’re hoping the public will also spread the word about these beneficial programs.”
Eligibility for Link-Up and Lifeline includes participation in at least one of these programs: Temporary Cash Assistance, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8), and National School Lunch Program’s free lunch program. A family whose income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level guidelines may also qualify. For a family of four, that requirement is a maximum monthly income of $2,385.
Applying for Lifeline is easy. For assistance, Florida residents may call their local phone company, the PSC at 1-800-342-3552, or the Office of Public Counsel at 1-800-540-7039. Information is also available at www.floridapsc.com and www.floridaopc.gov/lifeline.cfm.
The PSC is committed to making sure that Florida's consumers receive their electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater services in a safe, affordable, and reliable manner. The PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in the areas of rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitoring safety, reliability, and service.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.