Lifeline and Link Up

Non-Tribal Lifeline Information and application

For the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.

Click here for the application.

What does the program provide?

Lifeline is a federal program that provides eligible subscribers with a credit of $9.25 each month on voice telephone service. The credit can be applied to only one telephone line per household. For the purposes of Lifeline, a household is an individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income or expenses. You may not receive Lifeline if you, or someone in your household, receives Lifeline on another home phone or a wireless phone. A Lifeline customer may not give his or her Lifeline discount to another person. Lifeline subscribers may also receive blocking of long distance calls on their telephone line at no charge.

Note:

If you have been disconnected for non-payment of telephone bills, this program is available to you if you bring your local bill current. You may be required to pay a reconnect fee.

Who is eligible?

You qualify for Lifeline if you, your dependent, or anyone else in your household receives help from one of these economic assistance programs:

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly Food Stamps

• Federal Housing Assistance or Section 8

• Low Income Home Energy Assistance

• Medicaid

• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

• National School Lunch Program’s free lunch program

• OR your total household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines

How do I obtain these telephone services?

If you or someone in your household meet the eligibility requirements, fill out and sign the application form and send it along with proof of eligibility to:

West River Cooperative Tele. Co. P.O. Box 39 801 Coleman Ave. Bison, SD 57620

Could I become ineligible?

When your household no longer participates in any of the qualifying public assistance programs, or your total household income exceeds 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or your household receives Lifeline on more than one telephone, you are no longer eligible for Lifeline. You are obligated by law to notify your telephone company that you are no longer eligible for Lifeline.

Tribal Link Up & Lifeline Programs and application

For Tribal Land serviced by West River Cooperative Telephone Company

Click here for the application

What do the programs provide?

Tribal Link Up provides eligible subscribers with reduced connection charges for their home telephone service. This reduction is up to 100% of the applicable charges or up to $100. Link Up also provides for deferred payment of the connection charges without interest. It does not cover the cost of wiring inside your home and is limited to once per home address per subscriber.

Lifeline provides eligible subscribers with a credit of up to $34.25 each month for voice telephone service. The credit can be applied to only one telephone line per household for the purposes of Lifeline. A household is an individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income or expenses. You may not receive Lifeline if you, or someone in your household, receives Lifeline on another home phone or a wireless phone. A Lifeline customer may not give his or her Lifeline discount to another person. Lifeline subscribers may also receive blocking of long distance calls on their telephone line at no charge.

Note:

If you have been disconnected for non-payment of telephone bills, these programs are available to you if you bring your local bill current. You may be required to pay a reconnect fee.

Who is eligible?

You qualify for Lifeline if you, your dependent, or anyone else in your household receives help from one of these economic assistance programs:

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly Food Stamps

• Federal Housing Assistance or Section 8

• Low Income Home Energy Assistance

• Medicaid

• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Tribal TANF

• National School Lunch Program’s free lunch program

• Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

• Head Start (income eligible)

• BIA General Assistance

How do I obtain these telephone services?

If you or someone in your household meets the eligibility requirements, fill out and sign the application form and send it along with proof of eligibility to:

West River Cooperative Tele. Co. P.O. Box 39 801 Coleman Ave. Bison, SD 57620

Could I become ineligible?

When your household no longer participates in any of the qualifying public assistance programs, or your total household income exceeds 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or your household receives Lifeline on more than one telephone, you are no longer eligible for Lifeline or Tribal Link Up. You are obligated by law to notify your telephone company that you are no longer eligible for Lifeline and Tribal Link Up.

Additional Lifeline Information

On January 31, 2012, the Commission approved a comprehensive overhaul of its Lifeline program: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-12-11A1.pdf. Reforms include:

Changes to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, saving up to $2 billion over 3 years

  • Setting a savings target of $200 million for 2012, and reviewing the impacts of the Order after six months, and again after one year, in order to help determine future program budgets;
  • Creating a National Lifeline Accountability Database to prevent multiple carriers from receiving support for the same subscriber;
  • Creating eligibility databases from governmental data sources, enabling fully automated verification of consumers’ initial and ongoing Lifeline eligibility. This would reduce the potential for fraud while cutting red tape for consumers and providers. A database utilizing information from the three most common federal benefit programs through which consumers qualify for Lifeline will be created no later than the end of 2013;
  • Establishing a one-per-household rule applicable to all providers in the program, defining household as an “economic unit” so that separate low-income families living at the same address can get connected;
  • Establishing clear goals and metrics to measure program performance and effectiveness;
  • Phasing out support for services such as Toll Limitation – subsidies to carriers for blocking or restricting long-distance service – and ending Link Up – subsidies to carriers for initial connection charges except for recipients on Tribal lands that are served by eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”) that participate in both Lifeline and the high-cost program;
  • Reducing burdens on carriers by establishing a uniform, interim flat rate of reimbursement, allowing carriers to obtain a subscriber’s signature electronically, and streamlining enrollment through uniform, nationwide eligibility criteria.

Modernizing Lifeline

  • Adopting an express goal for the program of ensuring availability of broadband for all low-income Americans;
  • Establishing a Broadband Adoption Pilot Program using up to $25 million in savings from other reforms to test and determine how Lifeline can best be used to increase broadband adoption among Lifeline-eligible consumers. Starting this year, the program will solicit applications from broadband providers and select a number of projects to fund. Lifeline will help reduce the monthly cost of broadband service, but applicants will be expected to help address other challenges to broadband adoption, including the cost of devices and digital literacy;
  • Proposing increased digital literacy training at libraries and schools. A Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on using savings from other Universal Service Fund reforms to increase digital literacy training at libraries and schools, a key step in increasing broadband adoption;
  • Building on FCC efforts to close the broadband adoption gap and address digital literacy, including the Connect-to-Compete initiative, which enlists government, non-profit, and private sector leaders to address broadband adoption barriers through digital literacy training and low-cost broadband availability;
  • Allowing Lifeline support for bundled services plans combining voice and broadband or packages including optional calling features.

Additional information on the comprehensive overhaul of Lifeline may be found in the FCC’s press release and online guide.

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