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Telephone assistance keeps Ohioans connected

Aug. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc., wants to remind clients in its service area of Lawrence, Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties that Lifeline Assistance telephone programs are available to qualifying residents.

According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, low-income families and senior citizens can stay connected to local resources and emergency services through telephone assistance programs.

Lifeline Assistance programs make basic local telephone service more affordable for income-eligible families across Ohio. Those who qualify could receive discounts for monthly telephone bills and/or installation costs of telephone service.

You may qualify for Lifeline if your household income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Federal Poverty Guidelines at 150 percent for 2013 include:

Household of one: $17,235 annual income

Household of two: $23,265 annual income

Household of three: $29,295 annual income

Household of four: $35,325 annual income

For larger households, log on to www.familiesusa.org/resources/tools-for-advocates/guides/federal-poverty-guidelines.html.

You may also qualify for Lifeline if you participate in one of the following programs: Medicaid, food stamps, general/disability assistance, supplemental security income, SSI-Blind and Disabled, Public Housing Assistance/Section 8, TANF/Ohio Works First, National School Free Lunch Program, or Home Energy Assistance Program.

A Lifeline eligibility pre-screening tool is available at www.lifelinesupport.org.

Lifeline benefits may be applied to only one type of service -- landline or wireless -- and are limited to one line per household. An individual is only allowed to enroll in Lifeline once at the same address during a 12-month period. Customers receiving Lifeline benefits must also re-verify their eligibility annually. Other restrictions may apply.

Eligible low-income customers receive a monthly discount on basic local landline telephone service, waiver of installation charges, waiver of deposit fees, optional toll blocking at no charge, and optional 900/976 blocking at no charge. Lifeline discounts are also available for some wireless companies.

Customers should contact their local telephone service provider to apply for participation in the Lifeline program. More information about Lifeline is available on the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov or the OCC website at www.pickocc.org. Customers may also contact the PUCO toll-free at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or the OCC toll-free at (877) PICKOCC (877-742-5622) for more information. A fact sheet about telephone Lifeline programs in Ohio can be located online at www.pickocc.org/publications/assistance_programs/Telephone_Lifeline_Programs_in_Ohio.pdf.