Michigan marks Lifeline Awareness Week to highlight importance of phone and broadband discount program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Sept. 20, 2021

Media Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555

Michigan.gov/MPSC
Twitter

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Public Service Commission are joining with agencies across the country marking this week as Lifeline Awareness Week, urging eligible Michiganders to take advantage of the Lifeline telephone and broadband discount program.

Lifeline is both a state and federal program that provides discounted voice or broadband service to veterans, seniors, and low-income Michiganders. This year, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has designated Sept. 20-24 as Lifeline Awareness Week to bring attention to the discounts. As the COVID-19 pandemic made clear, phone and high-speed internet are vital to everyday life, yet both services can be out of reach for people of limited means. 

"Lifeline helps keep income-qualified Michiganders stay connected to family and friends, healthcare providers, work, and school by ensuring reliable, access to phone and broadband internet services," said Governor Whitmer, who issued a proclamation marking this as Lifeline Awareness Week in Michigan. "The Lifeline discounts are even more critical as Michiganders adapt to increasingly remote or virtual options at work, in school, or for healthcare delivery as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and usher in a new era of prosperity for our families, small businesses, and communities." 

Dozens of telecommunications carriers in Michigan offer Lifeline. Through Lifeline, income-eligible people under age 65 get a minimum monthly discount on their bill of $8.25. Those 65 and older receive a discount of $12.35.

To qualify for the state program, a Michigan customer must have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty level or participate in one of these programs: 

  • Medicaid.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8).
  • Tribal Eligibility Programs (and living on federally recognized Tribal lands). 
  • Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension Program. 

In 2020, 258,200 Michiganders were Lifeline subscribers, according to the Universal Service Administrative Co. 

For more information about Lifeline, see the MPSC's or Federal Lifeline or Michigan Lifeline consumer tip sheets or contact the MPSC at 800-292-9555. To find a provider, check with the MPSC's list of participating companies to see if your local landline telephone company, wireless provider, or broadband provider participates in Lifeline. 

In addition to Lifeline, Michiganders who meet eligibility requirements also may be able to receive financial assistance through the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Broadband Benefit program. The program provides a $50 monthly discount on broadband bills - $75 a month for those living on qualifying tribal lands - as well as a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer or tablet purchased through an eligible provider. More than 195,000 Michigan households have received assistance through the benefit. 

To be eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, a member of a household must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have an income at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines or participate in assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
  • Have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Have experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020;
  • Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program. 

There are three ways to apply for the benefit: 

  • Go to www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and find participating providers near you.
  • Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application and return it along with proof of eligibility to: 
    Emergency Broadband Support Center 
    P.O. Box 7081 
    London, KY 40742 
  • Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter or LinkedIn.

# # #