California LifeLine

California LifeLine provides discounted home phone and cell phone services to qualified households. Only one California LifeLine discounted phone is allowed per household (except for teletypewriter users and for Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program participants). The California LifeLine discounts can only be for the individual’s primary residence. An individual can only have one primary residence.

Each household must choose to get the discount either on a home phone or on a cell phone, but not on both. Households cannot get the discount from multiple phone companies. Households that do not follow the one discounted service per household rule will lose their discounts, and may be prosecuted by the U.S. government. Receiving multiple discounted phone services violates the California LifeLine Program’s rules.

Penalties for violating the California LifeLine Program’s rules can include imprisonment, losing the discounts, monetary fines, and being banned from the California LifeLine Program. The California LifeLine Program can also seek repayment of the discounts that should not have been received.

Types of Discounts Available

Discounted residential telephone services available to California LifeLine participants may include the following:

  • Monthly flat rate service discount = up to $13.75*
  • Monthly measured rate service discount = up to $13.75*
  • Monthly cell phone service discount = $5.75 or $13.75**
  • Service connection discount = up to $39
  • Service conversion discount for home phone services = up to $39
  • Exempt from paying the public purpose program surcharges, CPUC’s user fee, federal excise tax, local franchise taxes, and State 911 tax associated with their telephone service.
  • Discounts on two telephone lines for teletypewriter (TTY) users and Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program participants are allowed. The person who uses a TTY must have immediate and continuous access to it. If the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program did not give the TTY, a COPY of a medical certificate indicating the person’s need for a TTY is required to receive the discount on the second home phone line.

*Does not account for Extended Area Service rates, which provides a higher level of support.

**For cell phone plans with 501 to 999 voice minutes, which may include domestic messaging or text, the monthly discount is $5.75.

**For cell phone plans with at least 1,000 voice minutes, which may include domestic messaging or text, the monthly discount is $13.75.

   

Is California LifeLine Right For You?

There are two ways to qualify for the California LifeLine Program. You may qualify for California LifeLine via Program-Based OR Income-Based. Documentation of proof of eligibility is required. Submit COPIES of proof of eligibility with the completed and signed application. Make sure that your signature is very clear and legible.

1) Program-Based Qualification Method:

You can qualify for California LifeLine if you or another person in your household is enrolled in any one of these qualifying public assistance programs:

  • Medicaid/Medi-Cal
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
  • CalFresh, Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
  • National School Lunch Program (NSL)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    • 1. California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
    • 2. Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (StanWORKs)
    • 3. Welfare-to-Work (WTW)
    • 4. Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)
     
  • Tribal TANF
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Federal Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Program

2) Income-Based Qualification Method:

You can qualify for California LifeLine if your household's total annual gross income is at or less than these annual income limits:

LifeLine Income Guidelines

LifeLine Income Guidelines*

Household Size

Annual Income Limit

1-2

$25,900

3

$30,100

4

$36,500

Each Additional Member

$6,400

* Effective June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017

Documentation is required to show your household’s total annual gross income meets the annual income limits if you are qualifying by Income-Based. A household’s total annual gross income consists of money received BEFORE TAXES by everyone in your household (adults and children), from whatever source derived, whether taxable or non-taxable, including, but not limited to: wages, salaries, interest, dividends, alimony and child support, grants, gifts, allowances, stipends, lottery winnings, inheritances, worker’s compensation, unemployment and public assistance benefits, social security payments, pensions, rental income, income from self-employment, and cash payments from other sources, and all employment-related, non-cash income.

Application Process

Application Process

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR NEW APPLICANTS

Beginning July 1, 2009, new applicants for the California LifeLine Program must be approved before the California LifeLine discounts are received. If you apply to be in California LifeLine, you will pay the regular rates for basic home phone service until your application is approved. Please be sure to ask the telephone company what they are so you will be aware of these rates and fees.

To help you pay the up-front costs of establishing your home phone service like the service installation/connection fee, service conversion fee, and deposits, you can request to be on an interest-free payment plan. This will spread out your payments in more manageable amounts while you wait for your eligibility to be approved for California LifeLine. Payment plans can vary between the different home phone companies.

After being approved by the California LifeLine Administrator you will be refunded the difference between the regular rates and the California LifeLine discounted rates for any applicable monthly service charges, service installation/connection fee, service conversion fee, and deposits for basic home phone service.

You will receive a bill credit with the California LifeLine discounts retroactive to the date your service began or the date you requested to be enrolled, whichever is later. If your bill has a net credit balance of $10.00 or more, you may request a refund check from your home phone company. Otherwise, the refund will just be a credit on your account.

 

Annual Renewal Process

(For current California LifeLine participants only.)

Annual Renewal

California LifeLine requires all existing California LifeLine customers to renew their participation on an annual basis. Each year, on the consumer’s anniversary date, current participants will receive a California LifeLine renewal form with a PIN number in a PINK envelope.

Consumers can simply go online to renew her/his participation at www.californialifeline.com. If a consumer does not renew their participation in California LifeLine, then they will be dropped from the program and lose his/her California LifeLine discounts. Regular home phone rates for basic service will then be charged.  

 

 EXAMPLES OF ACCEPTABLE DOCUMENTATION OF PROOF OF ELIGIBLITY

  • Identification card from a qualifying public assistance program
  • Notice of eligibility or decision letter of participation from a qualifying public assistance program
  • Front page only of prior year’s state (540, 540A, 540 2EZ, 540NR, or 540X), federal (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ, 1040SS, or 1040X), or tribal tax return
  • Income statements or paycheck stubs for 3 consecutive months within the past 12 months
  • Statement of benefits from Social Security, Veterans Administration, retirement/pension, Unemployment Compensation, and/or Workmen’s Compensation
  • Alimony and/or child support documents
  • Other official documents.

 
IMPORTANT TO MEET DUE DATES  

 
Whether a consumer applies online OR fills out and mails the signed and completed form, he/she must respond by the due date. Consumers can find the due date on the application and renewal forms.

  • If the consumer submits an incomplete application or renewal form, the consumer will receive a new form.
  • If the consumer lost their PIN, they can call the California LifeLine Administrator to retrieve it.
  • If the consumer needs new forms, they can call the California LifeLine Administrator for a replacement.

 
POSSIBLE REASONS FOR DISQUALIFICATION

  • The consumer does not return the form or register online by the due date.
  • The form is incomplete.
  • The consumer is found to be ineligible for California Lifeline.
  • The form is incorrect (and is not considered correctible).
  • The consumer did not provide the appropriate documents to prove eligibility.
  • The person signing up was claimed on someone else’s income tax return as a dependent.
  • The consumer was already receiving the California LifeLine discount, and was not eligible for a second phone line with the California LifeLine discount.
  • The form did not have the consumer’s signature.

 
POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF DISQUALIFICATION

  • Not receiving the discounts.
  • Paying regular rates for basic home phone service.
  • The consumer may be required to pay a service deposit.
  • Interest may be charged.
  • The consumer can still reapply and go through the application process again. The process will start over, and the consumer will have to pay a service conversion fee.
  • The consumer can also appeal a denial or disqualification by calling the CPUC’s Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570.