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Public Service Commission


NEWS RELEASE


07/18/2006 Contact: 850-413-6482

Commissioners Make Link-Up Florida and Lifeline More Accessible to Needy Floridians


TALLAHASSEE — The five-member Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has taken steps to make it easier for low-income Floridians to take advantage of the Link-Up Florida and Lifeline telephone programs.

The five-member panel has added the National School Lunch Free Lunch Program as a qualifying criterion for all Florida eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs).  The National School Lunch Free Lunch Program had previously been used as a qualifying criterion only for BellSouth, Verizon, and Embarq.

The Commission also approved for use by Florida ETCs a simplified certification process for program-based criteria.  The simplified process allows individuals to enroll by signing a document verifying, under penalty of perjury, that they participate in one of the qualifying programs.  Previously, ETCs had a variety of other qualifying procedures.

Floridians qualify for the program if they are already enrolled in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income and Federal Public Housing Assistance.  If someone lives on federally recognized tribal land, he/she may qualify for expanded Lifeline assistance.  Some Florida companies will also qualify someone for the program if the customer’s income is no greater than 135% of the federal poverty level.

Currently, more than 139,000 Floridians are participating in the Link-Up Florida and Lifeline programs.  Link-Up Florida provides Floridians a 50% reduction on the telephone service hookup charge up to $30, and Lifeline customers receive a $13.50 credit on their monthly telephone bill.  The funding for the program comes from the customer’s telephone company and the federal Universal Service Fund, which is paid into by Florida telephone customers.

 

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