In addition to being able to take advantage of free government phones offered through programs such as ReachOut Wireless and Assurance Wireless, Illinois residents have the option to take advantage of the home phone discount programs as a result of the Lifeline/Link-Up programs.
By utilizing the Link-Up program, eligible low-income Illinois residents can receive assistance in paying for the initial setup charges for phone service. The Link-Up program will pay up to half of the initial installation charges to a maximum of $30. Or, it can be used to offset the activation fees for a home wireless phone. Additionally, any balance still owed on the installation charges can be paid over the year interest-free.
Discounts on Monthly Phone Service
Through the LifeLine program, eligible residents can receive discounts on their monthly phone bills. The amount of the discount depends on the phone service provider. To get an idea of what some of the service providers are offering in terms of discounts, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website and access their Telephone Assistance Program for Low Income Households state map.
Once on the map click the state of Illinois and it will display a listing of some of the phone companies in Illinois that participate in the Lifeline program. All you have to do is select the phone company and click “Go” to find out how much of a discount they offer.
For example, Angles Communication Solutions offers a $13.50 discount off of the basic phone service while Grafton Telephone Company offers $8.25 discount. With AT&T you can get a $6.25 discount while MTI gives $10. You can quickly see that the discounts vary by company.
Please be advised, however, that the USAC site does not include a listing of all participating phone companies. For a more extensive list, check out the one provided on the Illinois Commerce Commission website. The Illinois Commerce Commission list shows the name of the phone company, their phone number and a clickable link to their website. You can contact the phone company directly to find out the type of discounts they offer.
Discount Phone Service Eligibility Requirements
Because the program is for low-income Illinois residents, any household at or below 135% of the federal poverty guideline or participating in any of the following programs can qualify:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- National School Lunch (free program)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Residents on Federally recognized tribal lands may have additional requirements
Applying for the Discount
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you must complete the necessary application and submit it along with the backup documentation. Each phone company has their own application so either visit their website or call them to find out how to apply.
Although Illinois residents have the ability to choose either a free government phone or discounted service, they may not select both. Only one Lifeline service per economic unit is permitted. Additionally, you may be required to re-certify at the end of the year to prove that you’re still eligible for the program.
If you’re an Illinois resident not interested in wireless service, you can look into Illinois Telephone Corporation. They offer discounted phone service for landlines only.