A telephone is essential to staying connected in Texas County, seeking emergency services, government services, community resources and staying in touch with family and friends. State and federal programs are available that can provide needed assistance for eligible low-income and disabled customers to receive or continue vital telephone services.
The Missouri Public Service Commission joins other state commissions and federal agencies across the country in observing National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week. The week of Sept. 13-19 has been set aside to promote assistance programs which offer discounts on local telephone service.
Federal programs such as “Lifeline” and “Link-Up” have been available to eligible consumers for years and yet statistics indicate few know this type of telephone assistance exists.
Currently there are approximately 70,000 subscribers participating in the program in Missouri. Still that represents only about 20 percent of those who may be eligible for state and federal low income or disabled assistance discounts.
“I encourage eligible Missourians to take advantage of these programs, so they can be connected with vital services in the community,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “I appreciate the pro-active steps being taken by the Public Service Commission to increase awareness of and participation in these crucial programs.”
“These programs can, and often do, make a difference between a customer keeping or losing telephone services,” said PSC Chairman Robert M. Clayton III. “We need to help customers become more aware of these important programs. The PSC Consumer Services Department can provide more information. Our toll-free hotline number is 800-392-4211.”
Customers may be eligible for assistance if they or a member of their household participate in any of these programs: Food Stamps; MOHealthnet (or Medicaid); Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Federal Public Housing Assistance; National School Lunch Program’s free lunch program; and certain disability benefits.
“If you think that you might qualify for the discounts, it is important that you contact your local telephone company. The local telephone company can help determine if you are eligible,” said PSC Commissioner Terry Jarrett, who is chair of the Missouri Universal Service Board.
In Missouri, low-income assistance provides discounts of up to $13.50 a month and disabled assistance provides discounts of up to $3.50 a month depending on local telephone rates. Under the federal “Link-Up” program, qualifying low-income individuals may receive a 50 percent reduction (up to $30) on initial telephone connection charges.
In limited circumstances, some discounts may apply to wireless service. Customers are urged to contact their provider for more information. Additional information is also posted on the national “Lifeline Across America” website at www.lifeline.gov .