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TELEPHONE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

ISSUE DATE: 06/2012

Telephone companies are authorized to provide 2 federally-funded and 1 state-funded telephone service discount programs designed to promote universal service by providing low-income people with new telephone service installations and monthly telephone service discounts. The 3 programs are Lifeline, Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP) and Link-Up. These programs are administered and supervised by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission of the Department of Commerce.

LIFELINE AND TELEPHONE ASSISTANCE PLAN (TAP) provide eligible subscribers with a monthly credit on the basic service portion of their telephone bill. The credit applies on the main home telephone number listed in the applicant's name. The credit amount may vary slightly by carrier. Subscribers may also receive free blocking of long distance calling on their telephone line. Additional benefits are available to persons living on Tribal Lands/reservations.

LINK-UP provides eligible subscribers with reduced connection charges for their basic home telephone service. This reduction is 50 percent of applicable charges or $30, whichever is less. Link-Up also provides for deferred payment of connection charges without interest. It does not cover the cost of wiring inside the home and is available to eligible subscribers only once per home address.

To be eligible for Lifeline, TAP, or Link-Up, telephone service must be in the client’s name and the client must participate in at least 1 of the following public assistance programs or have income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines:

Medicaid/Medical Assistance.

SNAP.

Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Federal Housing Assistance or Section 8 Assistance.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP).

National School Lunch Program's free lunch program



Additional qualifying programs for persons living on a reservation:

Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance.

Tribally administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Head Start (only those meeting its income qualifying standard).

National School Lunch Program's free lunch program.


For more information about these programs or to apply, call the local telephone company or visit the Telephone Service Discount Programs web page.


In addition to the above programs, the Department of Commerce - Telecommunication Access Minnesota (DOC – TAM) administers the Telephone Equipment Distribution (TED) program. TED provides equipment for those who have hearing loss, speech, and/or mobility impairment that limits their use of a standard telephone. TED equipment is loaned out at no cost as a long-term loan. Available equipment includes Captel phones, light flashing ring signalers, TTYs, amplified telephones, loud ringers, hands free speakerphones and more. For more information about this program or to apply, call 1-800-657-3663 (Phone), 1-888-206-6555 (TTY), or visit the TED Program Home Page.

To be eligible for TED, the client must:

Live in Minnesota.

Have a hearing loss, speech or physical disability that limits the client’s use of a standard telephone.

Have a telephone in the client’s home or have applied for telephone service.

Have a family income equal to or below set guidelines. For current income guidelines, call the TED program at 1-800-657-3663 (Phone), 1-888-206-6555 (TTY), or visit the TED Program Home Page.

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