Goto Section: 54.409 | 54.411 | Table of Contents

FCC 54.410
Revised as of January 16, 2020
Goto Year:2019 | 2021
  § 54.410   Subscriber eligibility determination and certification.

   Link to an amendment published at  84 FR 71328 , Dec. 27, 2019.

   Link to an amendment published at  84 FR 71329 , Dec. 27, 2019.

   (a) All eligible telecommunications carriers must implement policies
   and procedures for ensuring that their Lifeline subscribers are
   eligible to receive Lifeline services. An eligible telecommunications
   carrier may not provide a consumer with an activated device that it
   represents enables use of Lifeline-supported service, nor may it
   activate service that it represents to be Lifeline service, unless and
   until it has:

   (1) Confirmed that the consumer is a qualifying low-income consumer
   pursuant to § 54.409, and;

   (2) Completed the eligibility determination and certification required
   by this section and § § 54.404 through 54.405, and completed any other
   necessary enrollment steps.

   (b) Initial income-based eligibility determination. (1) Except where
   the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator or other state
   agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's
   eligibility, when a prospective subscriber seeks to qualify for
   Lifeline using the income-based eligibility criteria provided for in
   § 54.409(a)(1) an eligible telecommunications carrier:

   (i) Must not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline to a subscriber,
   unless the carrier has received a certification of eligibility from the
   prospective subscriber that complies with the requirements set forth in
   paragraph (d) of this section and has confirmed the subscriber's
   income-based eligibility using the following procedures:

   (A) If an eligible telecommunications carrier can determine a
   prospective subscriber's income-based eligibility by accessing one or
   more databases containing information regarding the subscriber's income
   (“income databases”), the eligible telecommunications carrier must
   access such income databases and determine whether the prospective
   subscriber qualifies for Lifeline.

   (B) If an eligible telecommunications carrier cannot determine a
   prospective subscriber's income-based eligibility by accessing income
   databases, the eligible telecommunications carrier must review
   documentation that establishes that the prospective subscriber meets
   the income-eligibility criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(1). Acceptable
   documentation of income eligibility includes the prior year's state,
   federal, or Tribal tax return; current income statement from an
   employer or paycheck stub; a Social Security statement of benefits; a
   Veterans Administration statement of benefits; a retirement/pension
   statement of benefits; an Unemployment/Workers' Compensation statement
   of benefit; federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General
   Assistance; or a divorce decree, child support award, or other official
   document containing income information. If the prospective subscriber
   presents documentation of income that does not cover a full year, such
   as current pay stubs, the prospective subscriber must present the same
   type of documentation covering three consecutive months within the
   previous twelve months.

   (ii) Must securely retain copies of documentation demonstrating a
   prospective subscriber's income-based eligibility for Lifeline
   consistent with § 54.417, except to the extent such documentation is
   retained by the National Verifier.

   (2) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other
   state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a
   subscriber's eligibility, an eligible telecommunications carrier must
   not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline service to a subscriber,
   based on that subscriber's income eligibility, unless the carrier has
   received from the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or
   other state agency:

   (i) Notice that the prospective subscriber meets the income-eligibility
   criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(1); and

   (ii) If a state Lifeline administrator or other state agency is
   responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's
   eligibility, a copy of the subscriber's certification that complies
   with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section.

   (iii) An eligible telecommunications carrier must securely retain all
   information and documentation provided by the state Lifeline
   administrator or other state agency consistent with § 54.417.

   (c) Initial program-based eligibility determination. (1) Except in
   states where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or
   other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a
   subscriber's program-based eligibility, when a prospective subscriber
   seeks to qualify for Lifeline service using the program-based criteria
   set forth in § 54.409(a)(2) or (b), an eligible telecommunications
   carrier:

   (i) Must not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline to a subscriber
   unless the carrier has received a certification of eligibility from the
   subscriber that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph
   (d) of this section and has confirmed the subscriber's program-based
   eligibility using the following procedures:

   (A) If the eligible telecommunications carrier can determine a
   prospective subscriber's program-based eligibility for Lifeline by
   accessing one or more databases containing information regarding
   enrollment in qualifying assistance programs (“eligibility databases”),
   the eligible telecommunications carrier must access such eligibility
   databases to determine whether the prospective subscriber qualifies for
   Lifeline based on participation in a qualifying assistance program; or

   (B) If an eligible telecommunications carrier cannot determine a
   prospective subscriber's program-based eligibility for Lifeline by
   accessing eligibility databases, the eligible telecommunications
   carrier must review documentation demonstrating that a prospective
   subscriber qualifies for Lifeline under the program-based eligibility
   requirements. Acceptable documentation of program eligibility includes
   the current or prior year's statement of benefits from a qualifying
   assistance program, a notice or letter of participation in a qualifying
   assistance program, program participation documents, or another
   official document demonstrating that the prospective subscriber, one or
   more of the prospective subscriber's dependents or the prospective
   subscriber's household receives benefits from a qualifying assistance
   program.

   (ii) Must securely retain copies of the documentation demonstrating a
   subscriber's program-based eligibility for Lifeline, consistent with
   § 54.417, except to the extent such documentation is retained by the
   National Verifier.

   (2) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other
   state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a
   subscriber's eligibility, when a prospective subscriber seeks to
   qualify for Lifeline service using the program-based eligibility
   criteria provided in § 54.409(a)(2) or (b), an eligible
   telecommunications carrier must not seek reimbursement for providing
   Lifeline to a subscriber unless the carrier has received from the
   National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator or other state agency:

   (i) Notice that the subscriber meets the program-based eligibility
   criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(2) or (b); and

   (ii) If a state Lifeline administrator or other state agency is
   responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's
   eligibility, a copy of the subscriber's certification that complies
   with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section.

   (iii) An eligible telecommunications carrier must securely retain all
   information and documentation provided by the state Lifeline
   administrator or other state agency consistent with § 54.417.

   (d) Eligibility certification form. Eligible telecommunications
   carriers and state Lifeline administrators or other state agencies that
   are responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's
   eligibility for Lifeline must provide prospective subscribers Lifeline
   certification forms that provide the information in paragraphs (d)(1)
   through (3) of this section in clear, easily understood language. If a
   Federal eligibility certification form is available, entities enrolling
   subscribers must use such form to enroll a qualifying low-income
   consumer into the Lifeline program.

   (1) The form provided by the entity enrolling subscribers must provide
   the information in paragraphs (d)(1)(i) through (vi) of this section:

   (i) Lifeline is a federal benefit and that willfully making false
   statements to obtain the benefit can result in fines, imprisonment,
   de-enrollment or being barred from the program;

   (ii) Only one Lifeline service is available per household;

   (iii) A household is defined, for purposes of the Lifeline program, as
   any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same
   address and share income and expenses;

   (iv) A household is not permitted to receive Lifeline benefits from
   multiple providers;

   (v) Violation of the one-per-household limitation constitutes a
   violation of the Commission's rules and will result in the subscriber's
   de-enrollment from the program; and

   (vi) Lifeline is a non-transferable benefit and the subscriber may not
   transfer his or her benefit to any other person.

   (2) The form provided by the entity enrolling subscribers must require
   each prospective subscriber to provide the information in paragraphs
   (d)(2)(i) through (viii) of this section:

   (i) The subscriber's full name;

   (ii) The subscriber's full residential address;

   (iii) Whether the subscriber's residential address is permanent or
   temporary;

   (iv) The subscriber's billing address, if different from the
   subscriber's residential address;

   (v) The subscriber's date of birth;

   (vi) The last four digits of the subscriber's social security number,
   or the subscriber's Tribal identification number, if the subscriber is
   a member of a Tribal nation and does not have a social security number;

   (vii) If the subscriber is seeking to qualify for Lifeline under the
   program-based criteria, as set forth in § 54.409, the name of the
   qualifying assistance program from which the subscriber, his or her
   dependents, or his or her household receives benefits; and

   (viii) If the subscriber is seeking to qualify for Lifeline under the
   income-based criterion, as set forth in § 54.409, the number of
   individuals in his or her household.

   (3) The form provided by the entity enrolling subscribers shall require
   each prospective subscriber to initial his or her acknowledgement of
   each of the certifications in paragraphs (d)(3)(i) through (viii) of
   this section individually and under penalty of perjury:

   (i) The subscriber meets the income-based or program-based eligibility
   criteria for receiving Lifeline, provided in § 54.409;

   (ii) The subscriber will notify the carrier within 30 days if for any
   reason he or she no longer satisfies the criteria for receiving
   Lifeline including, as relevant, if the subscriber no longer meets the
   income-based or program-based criteria for receiving Lifeline support,
   the subscriber is receiving more than one Lifeline benefit, or another
   member of the subscriber's household is receiving a Lifeline benefit.

   (iii) If the subscriber is seeking to qualify for Lifeline as an
   eligible resident of Tribal lands, he or she lives on Tribal lands, as
   defined in 54.400(e);

   (iv) If the subscriber moves to a new address, he or she will provide
   that new address to the eligible telecommunications carrier within 30
   days;

   (v) The subscriber's household will receive only one Lifeline service
   and, to the best of his or her knowledge, the subscriber's household is
   not already receiving a Lifeline service;

   (vi) The information contained in the subscriber's certification form
   is true and correct to the best of his or her knowledge,

   (vii) The subscriber acknowledges that providing false or fraudulent
   information to receive Lifeline benefits is punishable by law; and

   (viii) The subscriber acknowledges that the subscriber may be required
   to re-certify his or her continued eligibility for Lifeline at any
   time, and the subscriber's failure to re-certify as to his or her
   continued eligibility will result in de-enrollment and the termination
   of the subscriber's Lifeline benefits pursuant to § 54.405(e)(4).

   (e) State Lifeline administrators or other state agencies that are
   responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility
   for Lifeline must provide each eligible telecommunications carrier with
   a copy of each of the certification forms collected by the state
   Lifeline administrator or other state agency for that carrier's
   subscribers.

   (f) Annual eligibility re-certification process.

   (1) All eligible telecommunications carriers must re-certify all
   subscribers 12 months after the subscriber's service initiation date
   and every 12 months thereafter, except for subscribers in states where
   the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state
   agency is responsible for the annual re-certification of subscribers'
   Lifeline eligibility.

   (2) In order to re-certify a subscriber's eligibility, an eligible
   telecommunications carrier must confirm a subscriber's current
   eligibility to receive Lifeline by:

   (i) Querying the appropriate eligibility databases, confirming that the
   subscriber still meets the program-based eligibility requirements for
   Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review; or

   (ii) Querying the appropriate income databases, confirming that the
   subscriber continues to meet the income-based eligibility requirements
   for Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review.

   (iii) If the subscriber's program-based or income-based eligibility for
   Lifeline cannot be determined by accessing one or more state databases
   containing information regarding enrollment in qualifying assistance
   programs, then the eligible telecommunications carrier may obtain a
   signed certification from the subscriber on a form that meets the
   certification requirements in paragraph (d) of this section. If a
   Federal eligibility recertification form is available, entities
   enrolling subscribers must use such form to re-certify a qualifying
   low-income consumer.

   (iv) In states in which the National Verifier has been implemented, the
   eligible telecommunications carrier cannot re-certify subscribers not
   found in the National Verifier by obtaining a certification form from
   the subscriber.

   (3) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other
   state agency is responsible for re-certification of a subscriber's
   Lifeline eligibility, the National Verifier, state Lifeline
   administrator, or state agency must confirm a subscriber's current
   eligibility to receive a Lifeline service by:

   (i) Querying the appropriate eligibility databases, confirming that the
   subscriber still meets the program-based eligibility requirements for
   Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review; or

   (ii) Querying the appropriate income databases, confirming that the
   subscriber continues to meet the income-based eligibility requirements
   for Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review.

   (iii) If the subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline cannot be determined
   by accessing one or more databases containing information regarding
   enrollment in qualifying assistance programs, then the National
   Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or state agency may obtain a
   signed certification from the subscriber on a form that meets the
   certification requirements in paragraph (d) of this section. If a
   Federal eligibility recertification form is available, entities
   enrolling subscribers must use such form to recertify a qualifying
   low-income consumer.

   (4) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other
   state agency is responsible for re-certification of subscribers'
   Lifeline eligibility, the National Verifier, state Lifeline
   administrator, or other state agency must provide to each eligible
   telecommunications carrier the results of its annual re-certification
   efforts with respect to that eligible telecommunications carrier's
   subscribers.

   (5) If an eligible telecommunications carrier is unable to re-certify a
   subscriber or has been notified by the National Verifier, a state
   Lifeline administrator, or other state agency that it is unable to
   re-certify a subscriber, the eligible telecommunications carrier must
   comply with the de-enrollment requirements provided for in
   § 54.405(e)(4).

   (g) One-Per-Household Worksheet. The prospective subscriber will
   complete a form certifying compliance with the one-per-household rule
   upon initial enrollment. Such form will provide an explanation of the
   one-per-household rule; include a check box that the applicant can mark
   to indicate that he or she lives at an address occupied by multiple
   households; a space for the applicant to certify that he or she shares
   an address with other adults who do not contribute income to the
   applicant's household and share in the household's expenses or benefit
   from the applicant's income; and the penalty for consumer's failure to
   make the required one-per-household certification, i.e. de-enrollment.
   At re-certification, if there are changes to the subscriber's household
   that would prevent the subscriber from accurately certifying to
   § 54.410(d)(3)(vi), then the subscriber must complete a new
   One-Per-Household Worksheet. If a Federal One Per Household Form is
   available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form.

   (h) National Verifier transition. As the National Verifier is
   implemented in a state, the obligations in paragraphs (b) through (g)
   of this section with respect to the National Verifier and eligible
   telecommunications carriers will also take effect.

   [ 77 FR 12970 , Mar. 2, 2012, as amended at  77 FR 38534 , June 28, 2012;
    78 FR 40970 , July 9, 2013;  80 FR 40935 , July 14, 2015;  81 FR 33093 , May
   24, 2016;  83 FR 2085 , Jan. 16, 2018]

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Goto Section: 54.409 | 54.411

Goto Year: 2019 | 2021
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