What is Lifeline?
The Lifeline Program is a federal program that provides a monthly discount on landline or wireless phone service to eligible low-income households. T-Wire offers a Lifeline package to Alabama residents that includes free cellular service, a free cell phone, no monthly bill, and no contract. Lifeline helps you connect to the nation's communications network find jobs, access health care services, reach out to family, and call for help in an emergency. And T-Wire is proud to offer:
- a FREE cell phone
- 500 FREE talk minutes + texts
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with the help of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the Federal Universal Service Fund that supports the Lifeline program, which has helped low-income consumers afford phone service since 1984.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
There are two ways to qualify for a Lifeline discount on your phone service:
- Income-based eligibility—to determine if your household meets the criteria, use the calculator on our home page, which is updated each year.
- Program-based eligibility—If you, or someone in your household, participates in specific federal or state assistance programs, you may be eligible for a Lifeline Program discount.
Documentation of income or program participation is required for enrollment.
What if someone else in my home already gets a Lifeline benefit?
Only one Lifeline Program discount (one telephone line—either landline or wireless) is allowed per household. The definition of a “household” is anyone living at an address (including children, relatives, people not related to you, etc.) who share income(s) and household expenses. More information is available at the Universal Service Administrative Company's website.
How do I keep my Lifeline benefits active?
There are two important, but easy, things you’ll need to do to keep your T-Wire service active:
- Make at least one call. This government-sponsored program requires we verify you are using your benefits. If you don’t use your phone at least once every 60 consecutive days, your benefit will be suspended. So use your phone and enjoy the benefits of Lifeline!
- Recertify each year. This program requires you verify your eligibility every year in order to keep receiving your free minutes. The good news is it only takes a few minutes by phone or mail, or a few seconds online, and we will remind you when it’s time.
If you or someone in your household participates in one of the following federal or state assistance programs, you may be eligible for a Lifeline Program discount.
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8;
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps;
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
If you reside on Tribal lands (any federally recognized Indian tribe's reservation, Pueblo, or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma, Alaska Native regions, Hawaiian Home Lands, or Indian Allotments) and participate in any of the federal or state assistance programs below:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance;
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard);
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF); or
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
Documentation of income or program participation is required for enrollment.
If your household's income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, you may be eligible for a Lifeline Program discount. To determine if your household meets this criteria, check the federal poverty guidelines eligibility chart, which is updated each year. Find the number in the left column matching the total number of members of your household, and if your household is at or below its corresponding household income, you may be eligible for a Lifeline Program discount.
What does Lifeline cell phone service cost?
The T-Wire Access plan, which includes a free phone and 500 talk minutes and texts, is FREE.
Best of all, there are no strings attached—there’s no activation cost and no monthly contract. Think you’ll need more minutes, more texting or even data on your phone? There’s a T-Wire Lifeline discount that’s right for you:
FREE feature phone
500 Talk + Text
No activation charge
FREE feature phone
Unlimited Talk + Text
1GB of Data
No activation charge
What is included in my monthly Lifeline service?
Each T-Wire Lifeline plan includes a bundle of shared talk minutes and texts that you can use in any combination. In the free ACCESS plan, for example, you’ll get 500 total units (texts + minutes of talk time). If you don’t send or receive any texts, you’ll have 500 minutes of talk time to use during the month. *Remember, you have to use your phone at least once every 60 days to maintain the Lifeline free benefit.
Can I sign up for voicemail?
Your plan also comes with free voicemail, so you’ll never have to miss a call when you are too busy to answer the phone.
What happens when I use up my minutes and texts?
T-Wire sends a text alert when you are getting close to the maximum units of minutes and texts on your plan. At that point you can choose to add minutes to your plan by calling us at (844) 894-7326. You will simply pay a one-time charge on a credit card for your additional bundle of talk minutes/texts.
- 50 minutes - $5
- 200 minutes - $10
- 500 minutes - $20
- 800 minutes - $30
- 1500 minutes - $50
Or, if you think you’ll need more minutes on a regular basis, upgrade to one of our other Lifeline packages and enjoy more minutes and texts each month for a low monthly cost.
Can I buy a different phone than the one included in my plan?
Yes! Smartphones can cost hundreds of dollars, but you can upgrade to a smartphone at a low T-Wire price of $60. Just give us a call at (844) 894-7326 and let our customer care team know you’d like to upgrade to a smartphone.
How do I enroll in the Lifeline Program?
Enrolling in Lifeline is easy! Just complete a Lifeline application then sign and submit it to T-Wire along with documentation verifying you qualify for Lifeline.
Submit your application and documentation to T-Wire in one of three ways:
- Mail it to us at T-Wire, 1110 N. Palafox St., Pensacola, FL 32501
- Fax it to us at (850) 434-5753
- Email it to us at [email protected]
In most cases, the information you provide will be verified and you will be enrolled in the Lifeline Program and eligible to receive your discount soon thereafter. DON’T FORGET TO SIGN YOUR ENROLLMENT FORM.
What documentation do I need to provide when I sign up?
Acceptable documentation for Lifeline program eligibility verification includes a copy of current or prior year's statement of benefits from a qualifying program; notice letter of participation in qualifying program; program participation documents (or copy); or another official document of a qualifying program.
Acceptable documentation for income eligibility verification includes a copy of the prior year's state, federal or Tribal tax return, current income statement from an employer or paycheck stub, Social Security statement of benefits, Veterans Administration statement of benefits, retirement or pension statement of benefits, Unemployment or Workers' Compensation statement of benefits, federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance, or divorce decree, child support award, or another official document containing income information. You must present the same type of documentation covering three consecutive months within the previous 12 months, if the documentation does not cover a full year of income.
What happens if USAC can’t verify my identity?
There are some instances where an identity is unable to be verified. In these cases, T-Wire will contact you to let you know of the issue and ask for further documentation verifying your identity. Here are some examples of documents we may ask for to help prove your identity:
- Driver's license (unexpired)
- Birth certificate
- Prior year's state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Social Security card
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- Permanent resident card (unexpired)
- Permanent resident alien card (unexpired)
- U.S. government, military, state, or Tribal issued ID (unexpired)
- Passport (unexpired)
- Military discharge documentation
- Weapons permit (unexpired)
- Government assistance program document (that includes proof of identity)
- Statement of benefits from a qualifying program (that includes proof of identity)
- Unemployment or Worker's compensation statement of benefits
If we can verify your identity using this additional documentation, you will be enrolled to receive a Lifeline Program discount. If USAC is unable to verify your identity, you will be denied a Lifeline Program discount.
How often do I need to verify my eligibility?
Eligibility is first verified when you enroll, then once every year you have Lifeline supported service. Once you are enrolled in Lifeline, you must recertify your continued eligibility on an annual basis. If you become ineligible for the benefit, whether because your income has increased, you no longer qualify for a federal benefit program, or someone else in your household gets a Lifeline service, you must contact us immediately to de-enroll from the program, otherwise you may be subject to penalties.
How do I make a payment?
If you choose the Free ACCESS Plan by T-Wire, there is no charge for up to 500 talk minutes and texts each month. To qualify for this free plan, you must meet the requirements established by USAC, have only one Lifeline subsidy per household, use your phone at least once every 60 days, and recertify each year.
If you purchase one of our other discounted Lifeline plans with free phone, you can pay your bill each month by credit card automatically. You’ll get a text when your monthly bill is ready that shows you the total amount of the charges, and if you have any questions you can simply call one of our Customer Care reps.
What if I need to purchase additional talk minutes or texts?
Simply call us at (844) 894-7326 and pay over the phone for your talk/text bundle.
Can I get more than one discounted service?
No. Federal rules prohibit eligible low-income subscribers from receiving more than one Lifeline discount per household. An eligible subscriber may receive a discount on either a wireline or wireless service, but not both. If you, or any person in your household, is currently receiving more than one monthly Lifeline service, you must select one provider to provide your Lifeline service, and you must contact the other provider to de-enroll from its program. Subscribers found willfully violating this rule may also be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties.
How often do I have to verify my eligibility?
Each year, you’ll receive a notice reminding you to recertify your eligibility for the Lifeline Program and provides simple instructions to do it. You must complete this recertification process by the deadline given to you by your telephone company or you will lose your Lifeline Program discount.
What happens if I do not recertify each year?
If you fail to complete your recertification by the deadline, you will no longer receive a Lifeline Program discount. This means your monthly phone bill may increase, or the free minutes you normally receive each month will not be provided.
What do I do when I believe I am no longer eligible to receive Lifeline discounts?
If you are no longer eligible for the Lifeline Program, you must let us know within 30 days of receiving the recertification letter. Once you let us know that you are no longer eligible for the Lifeline Program, we will discontinue your Lifeline Program discount. Learn about other reasons you might lose your discount.
Why did I receive a letter from USAC?
If you receive a communication from USAC for having more than one Lifeline service provider, it’s important to take action immediately. Federal regulations mandate only one Lifeline supported service per household (including cell phone and landline service). You must now select only one Lifeline provider, and T-Wire would like to be your provider of choice. Please follow the instructions on the letter and let USAC know you want to keep T-Wire as your Lifeline service provider.
How can I re-enroll in Lifeline?
If you lost your Lifeline discount, you must re-enroll in the Lifeline Program. To learn how, visit the Enrollment page and follow the steps.