Lifeline: Discount for phone and internet

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Do you need help to pay for your phone and internet bills? The federal government pays a part of your monthly phone or internet charges to certain companies through:

To learn more about Lifeline, read answers to common questions in this article.

How much help can I get?

The Lifeline program gives you up to $9.25/month for

  • landline or cell phone services,
  • internet services, or
  • combined phone-internet monthly services.

People who live on federally-recognized Tribal lands can get up to $25/month.

Some companies offer free cell phones with Lifeline.

Companies that accept Lifeline must give you at least:

  • 1000 Mobile voice minutes
  • 3G speed/4.5 GB usage allowance Mobile broadband
  • 25/3 speed/1229 GB usage allowance Fixed broadband
Does every phone or internet company take Lifeline?

No. Only a few companies in Massachusetts accept Lifeline right now. They offer cell phone, landline, internet or a combination plan. Some wireless companies may also offer a free or low cost device like a cell phone, computer, or tablet. If you already have a cellphone, landline, or internet plan, ask your carrier if they take Lifeline. Also ask them if they offer other discount programs for low-income customers. You can ask your company to apply to the state to become an “Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC)” so they can accept Lifeline.

Which companies accept Lifeline in Massachusetts?

Cell phone or wireless service

  • Assurance Wireless 
    • Free monthly plan with 4.5GB data, unlimited text and 1000 voice minutes.
    • Free Android smartphone when you sign up. (New Customers Only)
  • SafeLink Wireless
    • Free monthly plan with 4.5GB data, unlimited text and 350 voice minutes.
    • Some new subscribers may be eligible for a free smartphone.
  • StandUp Wireless.
    • Free monthly plan with 4.5GB of data, unlimited text and 1000 voice minutes.
    • First time StandUp customers who transfer their ACP benefit to StandUp can get a free smartphone or tablet.
  • Life Wireless
    • Free monthly plan with 4.5GB of data, unlimited text and 500 voice minutes.
  • TruConnect
    • Free monthly plan with up to 6GB of data, unlimited text, unlimited voice minutes, and unlimited international calling to select countries.

Landline or fixed phone service

  • Verizon is also an ACP participating provider.
    • Voice Lifeline Flat Rate Unlimited plan is $10.85/month for Lifeline customers.
    • Voice Lifeline Measured Service is $3.91/month for Lifeline customers.
  • GONETSPEED ((formerly OTELCO/Granby Telephone Co)
    • $5.25 off telephone service only.
    • Available only in Granby and parts of Chicopee and Holyoke


  • Verizon is also an ACP participating provider. 
    • $5.25 off Fios Internet service.
    • Under Verizon Forward, qualifying customers can receive a discount up to $20/month on their Fios, 5G Home, or LTE Home Internet plan.
What do I need to know about Lifeline cell phone minutes and texting?

Most Lifeline wireless plans give you a maximum number of minutes per month. Check how many minutes you get, to see if a plan will work for you.

You use minutes when you:

  • make any phone call — including toll-free numbers,
  • get calls, and
  • listen to voicemail.

Calling 911 does not use up your monthly minutes.

If you use more than your free minutes, you have to buy extra minutes. Extra minutes are expensive. You may also have to buy minutes just to get your voicemail.

Many people who have Lifeline run out of minutes quickly, and then nobody can reach them. Be sure to give a backup phone number to people who need to get in touch with you like social workers, doctors, and probation officers. Ask a friend or family member if you can use their number as a backup. If you use your Lifeline phone to call a court or an agency for a hearing, tell them you have limited minutes so they do not put you on hold or delay you.

Can I get Lifeline?

You can get Lifeline if no one else in your household has Lifeline, and either:

You or a member of your household get:

  • Medicaid (most types of MassHealth)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
  • Veterans’ Pension and Survivors’ Benefit
  • Tribal Programs (and you live on federally-recognized Tribal lands)


Your household income is 135% of the federal poverty level or less.

Number of people in your householdMonthly Household Income at 135% Federal Poverty Level (2024)
For each additional person add$606

If you have questions about how to apply, call the MA Department of Telecommunications and Cable Consumer Hotline: 1-800-392-6066.

Who does Lifeline count as part of my “household”?

A household can have only one Lifeline plan: wireless phone service, landline service, or internet service.

Lifeline says a “household” is a group of people who live together and share expenses.

People who live together but do not share expenses can be different households. If you live with another person or a group of people but you do not share expenses with them, you may be able to get your own Lifeline plan. You may have to fill out a Household Worksheet to show that you are separate households.

How do I apply for Lifeline?

You can:

  • Apply online through the Lifeline National Verifier
  • Apply by mail.
    • Print an application in English, Spanish or one of 8 other languages.
    • Complete the application and household worksheet. Send them with proof of eligibility to:
      Lifeline Support Center
      P.O. Box 9100
      Wilkes-Barre, PA 18733

You can get approved for Lifeline faster if you include documents that prove you qualify when you apply.

  • You can use documents that show you get benefits like SNAP, MassHealth, or SSI. These documents must have:
    • Your name or the name of the person who qualifies for the benefit,
    • The name of the program that makes you eligible for Lifeline,
    • The name of the agency that issued the document, and
    • A date that is within the past 12 months or that shows when your benefits end.
  • You can also use documents that show your income is 135% of the federal poverty level or less, like:
    • An Unemployment Benefits statement,
    • A Social Security benefits statement,
    • A paycheck stub, or
    • Another document that shows your income.

If the National Verifier does not show that you qualify with the information you upload, you may need to give Lifeline other documents.

Do not give a copy of your Social Security Number (SSN) card or your full SSN to a Lifeline sales representative. You only have to give the last 4 numbers of your SSN. Lifeline workers can only ask for your Social Security card if there is an error verifying your identity.

You have 45 days to complete the application.

If you have questions about how to apply, call the Department of Telecommunications and Cable Consumer Hotline: 1-800-392-6066.

What happens next?
  • You have 90 days to choose a company if you qualify through the National Verifier.
  • You must recertify every year. You have to show you still qualify for Lifeline and that you only have one Lifeline service. If you do not recertify, you will lose Lifeline.
  • Phone companies may add extra costs for extra minutes or other fees. Be sure to ask about these costs before you sign!

Know the rules

Lifeline can cut off your service if it finds your household has another discount line. This means:

  • If you sign up for a Lifeline discount for a cell phone plan when you already have a discount on your landline, you must pay full price for your landline.
  • If you live with another Lifeline household, when you apply, make sure you fill out the household worksheet to show you are a separate household.

Keep in mind

  • You can change Lifeline companies if you do not like your service.
  • Sometimes Lifeline phone representatives do not give you all the information you need to make the right choice. Make sure the Lifeline service you choose is right for you! Questions you can ask your carrier:
    • Do you provide a free or discounted device with the Lifeline plan?
    • How many minutes does the phone plan provide?
    • What are the fees for extra minutes?
    • What are your policies for lost, broken, or stolen devices?
    • If I have my own device, will it work with your plan?

Learn more about the services companies must offer and your rights as a Lifeline customer.

More Lifeline information
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