The number of Floridians who benefit from the Lifeline Assistance program grew by 236 percent this year, according to the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Annual Lifeline Report. The Lifeline program makes telephone service more affordable for low-income residents.
“I am happy that more Florida residents are signing up for Lifeline and staying connected to family, as well as to vital community services,” said Matthew M. Carter II, PSC Chairman. “Our efforts to make sure that no one remains phoneless in Florida are reaping results.”
As of June 30, 2009, 618,774 eligible residents participated in the Lifeline program, an increase of more than 434,800 participants over the previous year. In its 2009 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 and to the significant enrollment of new Lifeline customers by SafeLink, a prepaid wireless phone provider.
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.
Chairman Carter said, “The PSC continues to work with telephone companies, the Office of Public Counsel, and many other groups to promote Link-Up and Lifeline, and we hope in 2010 people will continue to help us 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 150 percent of the federal poverty level guidelines may also qualify. For a family of four, this requirement is a maximum monthly income of $2,756.
Applying for Lifeline is easy. Florida residents may call their local phone company, the PSC at 1-800-342-3552, or the Office of Public Counsel at 1-800-540-7-039 for assistance. 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 of safety, reliability, and service.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.