New Eligibility Rules for Lifeline and Link-Up Support on Tribal Lands

Lifeline and Link-Up Enhanced Support for Tribal Lands

The Federal Universal Service Fund includes the Low-Income Program, which provides discounts on telephone installation and basic monthly service to qualifying consumers. There are two components to the Low-Income Program – Lifeline Assistance (“Lifeline”) and Link-Up America (“Link-Up”). Lifeline and Link-Up are available to all qualifying low-income consumers nationwide. The FCC’s Enhanced Lifeline and Link-Up for Tribal Lands programs offer additional discounts for qualifying consumers living on Tribal Lands. Lifeline also includes Toll Limitation Service, which enables a telephone subscriber to limit the amount of long distance calls that can be made from a phone.

Tribal Lands

For the Lifeline and Link-Up programs, Tribal Lands are defined as any federally-recognized Indian Tribe’s Reservation, Pueblo, Colony, or former reservation in Oklahoma, an Indian Allotment, or an Alaska Native region established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.


Lifeline provides certain discounts on monthly service for qualified telephone subscribers. These discounts vary from state to state, depending on whether your state has its own Lifeline program. Enhanced Lifeline Support for Tribal Lands provides qualified consumers living on Tribal lands with additional discounts on monthly basic telephone service. As a result, depending on current rates, eligible subscribers on Tribal lands may receive basic local phone service for as little as $1 a month.


Link-Up provides eligible consumers with a one-time initial hook-up discount. The discount is up to 50% of the first $60 of your bill. The maximum discount is $30. For example, a $70 installation fee would cost an eligible subscriber $40. Enhanced Link-Up Support for Tribal Lands provides qualified subscribers with bills above $60, an additional discount of up to $70, bringing the total discount to a maximum of $100. For example, an installation fee of from $60 to $130 would only cost a consumer living on tribal lands $30.


Eligibility for participation in these programs varies by state. States that have their own state Lifeline program may have their own criteria. New rules recently released by the FCC have broadened the qualification criteria for Lifeline and Link-Up for those states that don’t have their own state Lifeline program. A consumer living on tribal lands may be eligible for enhanced Lifeline and Link-Up if he/she has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, qualifies under the state’s Lifeline program, or participates in any of the following qualifying assistance programs:

* Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance,
* Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF),
* Head Start (those meeting its income qualifying standard),
* The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program,
* Medicaid,
* Food Stamps,
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
* Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8 )
* Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), or
* Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

Estimated income requirements for households at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are as follows:

Estimated Income Requirements
Family Size | Lower 48 / DC | Hawaii Alaska
1 $13,230 $15,215 $16,538
2 $17,820 $20,493 $22,275
3 $22,410 $25,772 $28,013
4 $27,000 $31,050 $33,750
5 $31,590 $36,329 $39,488
6 $36,180 $41,607 $45,225
7 $40,770 $46,886 $50,963
8 $45,360 $52,164 $56,700

The amounts provided are based on Jan. 24, 2006, data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For each additional person in the household beyond eight, add $4,590 for persons living in the lower 48 and DC, $5,738 for Alaska, and $5,279 for Hawaii to the income eligibility requirements.

You should contact your local telephone company or your state regulatory agency for information about these programs to determine whether you qualify and sign up for discounts under the Lifeline and Link-Up programs. The telephone number for your state regulatory agency can be found on the Web site of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners: State qualifying information is also available on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) Web site,, in your local phone directory, or you can call USAC toll free at 1-888-641-8722.

For this or any other consumer publication in an accessible format
(electronic ASCII text, Braille, large print, or audio) please write or call us
at the address or phone number below, or send an e-mail to

To receive information on this and other FCC consumer topics through the Commission’s electronic subscriber service, click on

This document is for consumer education purposes only and is not intended to affect any proceeding or cases involving this subject matter or related issues.


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