The Federal Communications Commission announced a temporary waiver aimed at making it easier for low-income families to apply for discounts on internet and voice services through the Lifeline program. The change means consumers don’t have to provide three consecutive months of income records to apply.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our economy,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a press release. “Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and it is important that they have the connectivity they need to apply for new jobs, take online classes, or get medical care via telehealth. I’m glad we’re granting this relief today, which will help those who may have only recently become eligible for Lifeline to sign up for the program and stay connected to vital broadband and phone services during the pandemic.”
Normally, Lifeline eligibility requires proving you’re taking part in a qualifying program, like Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or showing a recent history of income at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines. But with unemployment insurance claims spiking in recent weeks, the FCC notes that a large number of recently unemployed consumers wouldn’t be able to meet the three-month requirement.
The waiver lasts until June 30th and the commission says consumers can submit official proof of their current income situation, like an unemployment benefits notice, instead of the three months’ worth of records. For more information, you can check out the Lifeline program’s official site here.
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