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California Lifeline Changes

Beginning June 1, 2017, the California LifeLine Program (California LifeLine) has two new limitations on consumers requesting the California LifeLine discounts for phone services. These two new limitations were created to comply with Assembly Bill 2570, authored by State Assembly Member Bill Quirk, which became state law in Public Utilities Code Section 878.5. Please go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml,https://a20.asmdc.org/, and http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2570 to learn more.

New Limitation #1 = 30 Day Waiting Period for an Enrollment Request for the California LifeLine Discounts for Cell Phone Service
When you submit an enrollment request to receive the California LifeLine discounts for cell phone service you have to wait up to 30 days to submit another enrollment request. You CANNOT have multiple enrollment requests for the California LifeLine discounts for cell phone service going at the same time. The 30-day waiting period ends when either 1) the California LifeLine Administrator sends the final eligibility decision, 2) the enrollment request is cancelled, or 3) the 30 days have passed since the enrollment request, whichever occurs first. After the 30-day clock stops, you may then submit another enrollment request for the California LifeLine discounts for cell phone service, as applicable. You can independently cancel an enrollment request by contacting the California LifeLine Administrator by phone at 877-858-7463 or going to Check Your Status at www.californialifeline.com. The cell phone company can also cancel an enrollment request.

New Limitation #2 = 60 Day Freeze for Transferring Your California LifeLine Discounts (also called Discount Transfer Freeze) for Phone Services
Once the California LifeLine Administrator approves your eligibility to receive the California LifeLine discounts, you have to keep your California LifeLine discounts with the same phone company for 60 days. The 60-day clock begins when the California LifeLine discounts start. After staying with the same phone company for 60 days, you may choose to remain with the same phone company or to change to a different phone company while keeping the California LifeLine discounts. This requirement means that you can only transfer your California LifeLine discounts to a different phone company once every 60 days. Transferring your California LifeLine discounts to a different phone company restarts the 60-day clock.

You MAY cancel your phone service or switch phone companies at any time. However, if you are still within the 60-day clock and you cancel your phone service or switch phone companies, then you will stop receiving the California LifeLine discounts.

However, there are ways to transfer your California LifeLine discounts to a different phone company sooner, which are as follows:

  1. you move to a new address
  2. your phone company no longer offers phone service or otherwise fails to provide phone service
  3. your phone company charged late fees greater than your monthly out of pocket cost for your phone service
  4. your phone company was found in violation of either the California LifeLine Program’s, the California Public Utilities Commission’s, or the Federal Communications Commission’s rules while you were a participant and that rule violation impacted you.

How to Transfer Your California LifeLine Discounts Before the 60-Day Clock Ends When Your Phone Company Fails to Provide the California LifeLine Discounted Phone Service
As a California LifeLine participant, you are entitled to a voice-grade connection. If you are experiencing a service failure, you should immediately inform your phone company of the service failure so your phone company can try and resolve the service failure. If your phone company does not resolve the service failure, you can request an exception to the discount transfer freeze due to a service failure (also called a service failure exception). Please remember that before requesting a service failure exception, you should immediately inform your phone company of the service failure.

Examples of what would NOT constitute as a failure to provide service:

  • (a) Your dissatisfaction with the feature(s) of the service, the service rate(s), or the quality of customer service.
  • (b) Your confusion about the phone service plan.
  • (c) Another cell phone company is offering a better handset. If the handset works and the cell phone service has coverage where needed, then a “better” handset is not a service failure.
  • (d) You want a handset upgrade provided by the cell phone company.
  • (e) You break or otherwise damage the handset provided by the cell phone company, which renders the handset as non-operable.
  • (f) You lose the handset provided by the cell phone company.
  • (g) The handset provided by the cell phone company was stolen.
  • (h) You lack understanding or knowledge to utilize the handset provided by the cell phone company.

You can contact the California LifeLine Administrator by phone at 877-858-7463 or going to Check Your Status at www.californialifeline.com to request a service failure exception to the discount transfer freeze. The California LifeLine Administrator will then determine whether it is appropriate to start the exception process. If the California LifeLine Administrator grants your exception order, you can transfer your California LifeLine discounts to a different phone company prior to the discount transfer freeze ending.

You MUST DO these 4 things for the California LifeLine Administrator to grant your exception order:

  1. give the existing phone company an opportunity to resolve the service failure
  2. order a service failure exception from the California LifeLine Administrator
  3. after the phone company’s opportunity lapses to resolve the service failure, confirm that the service failure still exists – you have 1 week to submit this confirmation
  4. contact a different home or cell phone company and ask to receive phone service with the California LifeLine discounts; your preferred phone company will submit the transfer request on your behalf to the California LifeLine Administrator.