Phone service is vital in today’s world. In the cases of people with serious illnesses, it can literally save your life. It means being able to call 9-1-1 in an emergency, being able to make and cancel and reschedule appointments, being able to get the results of medical tests, being able to maintain communication with family and friends who you can call for help in a situation, being able to apply for assistance, and maintain contact with social workers and attorneys.
It is incredibly frustrating for us when we see clients lose their cases because we are unable to get in touch with them when it’s time for a hearing. This happens more often than you might think. The long wait for disability when one is unable to work and without income takes its toll on a person, and their phones are often shut off.
There is a program however, that can help. It is called Lifeline and is run by the federal government. Lifeline provides a discount on one basic monthly phone service (you can choose between a landline or cellular) per qualifying low-income family. These discounts are usually about $10.00 a month. There is also a one time $30 discount to cover set-up fees for new service.
You may qualify for this program if you are on any of these assistance programs:
- Food Stamps,
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8),
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP),
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or
- The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
You also may qualify if your income is less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. ($15,080 for an individual, $20,426 for a couple, $25,772 for a family of three, and $31,118 for a family of four.)
Applications for this program area available from your local phone companies or online at http://www.in.gov/oucc/files/IURC_APP.TXT
If you are in a situation where you cannot afford phone service, this program is worth looking into. Whenever your phone number or contact information changes while your case is pending, please make sure you keep us informed. We need to be able to contact you while we work on your case.