For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Schilling
(614) 466 7750
COLUMBUS, OHIO (Aug. 29, 2013) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is reminding low-income families that they can stay connected to local resources and emergency services through telephone assistance programs. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) have declared Sept. 9–15, 2013, National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week across the country.
Lifeline telephone assistance is available to customers who have a household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Customers enrolling in Lifeline must show proof of income eligibility or enrollment in qualifying programs including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, general assistance, Ohio Works First, Supplemental Security Income, Section 8 Public Housing Assistance, Home Energy Assistance Programs or the National School Free Lunch Program.
The FCC requires customers to annually reverify their eligibility with their Lifeline provider.
“The PUCO recognizes the benefits of these services to Ohio’s low-income telephone customers, but we also remain very much aware of the opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse within the Lifeline program,” stated PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler.
Lifeline customers receive up to a $9.25 discount on their monthly basic telephone service rate. Federal law prohibits households from receiving multiple benefits. Customers may receive Lifeline benefits for either their landline or through an eligible wireless provider, but not both.
Through a recent PUCO order in case number 10-2377-TP-COI, the Commission made clear that most of Ohio’s Lifeline rules currently applicable to competitive eligible telecommunications carriers also apply to all non-traditional Lifeline service offerings and providers, including those offering free wireless Lifeline service.
Chairman Snitchler added, “We have taken positive steps in Ohio to curtail and contain waste, fraud and abuse within the Lifeline program, as has the FCC at the federal level. This Commission takes its responsibilities with regard to the Lifeline program in Ohio very seriously and will, within the scope of its authority, continue to diligently work to prevent those who wish to take unfair advantage of the program from doing so.”
Customers should contact their local telephone service provider to apply for participation in the Lifeline program. For more information about Lifeline or other low-income assistance programs, visit the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.
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