The Iowa Utilities Board is trying to make people aware of some changes to the “Lifeline” program that are now in place. Board chair, Libby Jacobs, says the program provides a monthly $9.25 credit to help those who need it, be able to afford phone service.
“There have been some changes made at the federal level to the program, trying to ensure that people who are rightfully entitle to the service get that opportunity,” Jacobs explains. “And also that it is only to be applied for one phone service per household, that’s a change. There were some states that were being a little bit more generous than others, so the FCC changed the rules for this year.”
This is “Lifeline Awareness Week,” and Jacobs says another goal is ensure that everyone who needs the help is aware it is available.
“We also want people to understand that the Lifeline assistance can be used for either a land-line phone or a wireless cellphone. That is something that needed to be clarified and might be a bigger issue for some of the Iowans,” Jacobs says.
Jacobs says the eligibility for the assistance is based on need. “Iowans with income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines may apply. Other househould eligibility requirements may be people who are on Medicaid, supplemental nutrition assistance program, the national school lunch program, the low-income home energy assistance program, there are a variety of other factors. Jacobs encourages anyone who thinks they may meet the guidelines to apply.
“All they have to do is contact their local phone company or wireless service provider, fill out some forms to determine if they are eligible, and they can begin getting the service right away,” Jacobs says. Figures from the I.U.B. show 33,862 Iowans participated in the Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program in 2011.