What Is the Process to Switch Lifeline Provider
Lifeline is a government assistance program that helps make communication services more affordable for low-income people. Through this benefit program, the government provides discounts on the monthly cell phone, wireless, or internet services of up to $9.25 or $34.25 for eligible Tribal households. Lifeline providers offer qualifying low-income households free monthly services that include free voice minutes, text messages, and monthly data. Some Lifeline providers also offer free government phones for people in need. The exact Lifeline offer, however, depends on the individual participating provider.
In case you are not satisfied with your current Lifeline provider, as its services or benefits simply don’t meet your needs, you can switch providers at any time. The process of how to switch Lifeline providers is relatively simple – all you have to do is to follow the steps below:
Contact the Present Phone Service Provider
First of all, you should contact your current Lifeline provider and let them know that you wish to apply for the transfer of service. The representative will likely require you to fill out a form to prove your eligibility. It is your right to change your Lifeline service provider as long as you have used the current provider’s services for at least 60 days.
You will also be required to complete the ‘Request for Change’ form. By doing so you confirm that you wish to choose a new service provider.
Your current service provider will continue providing you with its services until your switching process is done.
Access the NLAD Website
Sign into the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) website. Click on ‘Transfer NLAD Benefit’. The system will then prompt you to fill out your standard information for identification purposes.
Afterward, press ‘Transfer Benefit’. Confirm your decision by pressing ‘Yes’.
If the benefit transfer is successful, the NLAD will:
- De-enroll you from your previous service provider, and label you as de-enrolled due to benefit transfer
- Enroll you with the new service provider, and label you as enrolled due to benefit transfer
- Notify both the past and new service providers of the change
Reach Out to the Service Provider You Want to Choose
Review other Lifeline providers’ offers and contact the Lifeline provider that you wish to choose. Ask it to transfer your Lifeline benefit. For them to do so, you will have to provide certain information. You will probably have to provide the following information:
- Full official name
- Date of birth
- Residential address
- Present telephone number
- Last four digits of the social security number (SSN)
- Verbal or written consent to switch your phone service provider (it must include an acknowledgment that, once the transfer is complete, the subscriber will lose their Lifeline benefit with the former provider and an acknowledgment that the new Lifeline provider has explained that they cannot have multiple Lifeline benefits with the same or different service providers at the same time)
- Proof of your Lifeline eligibility and participation
- An official statement saying that only one person in your household receives Lifeline benefits
You may also need to re-apply. The new provider will contact your past provider and inform it about the transfer. Once the past provider receives the information, it will close your account and stop providing you with services. You are unlikely to experience service interruption due to the transfer process.
Look for Information on All Phone Service Providers
Before you choose a new Lifeline provider, make sure to review all the providers in your area. To do so, visit lifelinesupport.org/companies-near-me. Press ‘Search Providers’, enter your ZIP code, and you will see the list of all the providers.
Take your time to visit each provider’s website and carefully review its offer and list of benefits. Choose the one that best fits your needs.
Switching your Lifeline provider is a very common process. The USAC calls it the ‘Service Transfer’. It is your right to switch Lifeline providers at any time, therefore you won’t have to pay any processing fees.
Keep in mind, however, that the Lifeline benefit is only available for 1 member of a qualifying household and that the household can only receive Lifeline benefits from one provider at a time.
How to Switch Lifeline Providers / How to Transfer Your Lifeline Benefit to Another Provider
The detailed process of how to switch Lifeline providers or how to transfer your Lifeline benefit to another provider is described above. There are some basic steps:
- Contact your previous Lifeline provider and inform them that you wish to transfer your service
- Visit the NLAD website and request a provider transfer
- Find a new Lifeline provider and inform it that you wish to enroll in its services
Read all the details in the previous section.
Are There Any Conditions for Changing Lifeline Providers?
As mentioned before, you must be eligible if you wish to transfer your Lifeline benefit. That means that you have to meet certain requirements and follow some rules during the transfer process, including:
- You have the right to ask for a service transfer after you have used your current provider’s services for at least 2 months or 60 days.
- You can ask for a service transfer again in the future, however, you can only change companies every 3 months or 90 days.
- You must be Lifeline-eligible if you wish to transfer your service or apply in the first place.
- You must make sure that no other member of your household is receiving Lifeline benefits.
- You must make sure that you never receive two Lifeline benefits from the same or different providers at the same time. Keep in mind that it is a violation of the Lifeline rules if you keep your previous phone and line or more than one benefit.
What are the Reasons for Switch Lifeline Providers?
Now, let’s take a closer look at why you would wish to switch Lifeline providers in the first place.
- Perhaps you have moved to another address. Lifeline providers only offer their services in certain states. In case your current Lifeline provider is not offering its services in the state to which you are moving, you will have to find a provider that offers its services in your new location.
- Maybe your previous Lifeline provider has decided to no longer offer Lifeline services.
- The company may have charged late fees greater than the customer’s monthly cost for service.
- You may dislike your current provider’s customer service.
- You may wish to receive more monthly texts, talk minutes, or data.
- You may wish to receive a better phone.
- You may wish to switch to a Lifeline provider that also offers the Affordable Connectivity Program discounts and thus offers eligible customers discounted ACP tablets.
- You may wish to switch to a provider that offers more reliable services or better coverage or phone signal in your area.
If I Change the Lifeline Provider, Can I Keep My Old Number?
You may be worried that by switching Lifeline providers you would also have to change your phone number. However, that is not the case. Luckily, numerous Lifeline providers allow you to easily keep your phone number when switching providers.
To do so, make sure not to completely cancel your services with your previous provider until you also arrange the affairs with the new provider. Once you cancel your old service provider, you will namely also lose your phone number.
The safest way is to inform your current provider that you wish to switch to a new provider and emphasize that you wish to keep your number. The company will then wait for you to sign up with a new company.
What are the Reasons to Lose the Eligibility of Lifeline?
There are several reasons why you may lose your Lifeline eligibility, including:
- You receive several Lifeline discounts or phones. This is a violation, as you can only get one benefit at a time. The result of the violation may be losing your Lifeline eligibility.
- You apply with multiple companies.
- You no longer meet the Lifeline eligibility criteria.
- You fail to notify your Lifeline provider that you no longer qualify within 30 days.
- You fail to re-enroll to the program once a year by the program deadline.
- You apply even though another member of your household is already receiving the benefit.
- You fail to use your benefit at least once every 30 days.
In some cases, you will be able to reapply. Other rule violations, on the other hand, may result in permanent eligibility loss.
19 Best Lifeline Providers
There are many Lifeline providers available in several U.S. states. The Lifeline is available to qualifying low-income people in every state, commonwealth, territory, and on Tribal lands. Some of the very best Lifeline providers include the following:
- AirTalk Wireless
- Access Wireless
- American Assistance
- Assist Wireless
- Assistance Wireless
- Boost Mobile
- Cintex Wireless
- Cooper Valley Telecom
- Easy Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- Infinity Mobile
- Life Wireless
- NewPhone Wireless
- Q Link Wireless
- SafeLink Wireless
- SafetyNet Wireless
- StandUp Wireless
- Tag Mobile
- TerraCom Wireless
- Tempo Communications
- True Wireless
What are Lifeline Providers?
Lifeline providers are wireless companies that participate in the government-funded Lifeline benefit program and receive money from the government and in turn provide eligible low-income customers with discounts on the monthly cell phone, wireless, or internet services and perhaps even free phones (depending on the provider).
How Do I Know Which Provider is Best for Me?
First of all, you can only choose from the ones that are available in your area. You can check the list of those providers at lifelinesupport.org/companies-near-me. Then, you must review their offers by visiting each company’s website. Make sure to review the list of Lifeline benefits and discounts, the quality of their services, and their coverage in your area.
How Do I Qualify for Lifeline if I’m New?
To qualify you must meet certain eligibility criteria. Your annual household income must either be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or you or another member of your household must participate in a qualifying federal or tribal assistance program, such as SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, Tribal TANF, etc. You must also be able to prove your eligibility by providing certain official documents. Finally, you must apply for the benefit. You can do so directly by your selected provider or via the National Verifier.
If I Qualify for Lifeline, How Much Can I Save?
Different Lifeline providers offer different benefits. However, the general rule is that eligible households can receive a discount on monthly services of up to $9.25 or $34.25 on Tribal lands.
How to Re-enroll for Lifeline Benefits?
In order to keep your benefits, you will have to re-enroll every year. Before the year is over, your Lifeline provider will notify you and send you the exact instructions on how and where to reapply.