November 29, 2021

Volume XI, Number 333

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November 29, 2021

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New Federal Program Provides Discount on Internet Service for People With Disabilities

A new federal program will provide a $50 per month discount on internet service for many people with disabilities. A discount of $75 per month will be available to those on tribal lands who qualify. The discounts are available to any household with a person receiving Medicaid, Supplemental Social Security (SSI), SNAP (food stamps), or Federal Housing assistance, among other benefits.

Many people with disabilities receive these and thus qualify for the discount. The discount will be put on the customer's bill, and the service provider (cable, phone, cell phone, etc.) will be reimbursed by the feds.

The program, administered through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is new, of limited duration and is slated to begin in late April. It will expire six months after the COVID pandemic ends or when the $3.2 billion Congress appropriated for the discounts runs out, whichever comes first. To get the maximum benefit, eligible participants should sign up as soon as possible.

How to Register for the Discount

People with disabilities (or others on Medicaid, SSI, etc.) are required to register to show that they qualify for the discount. To register, go to www.usac.org. Please note that USAC is in the process of creating the web page to register for this program and expects it to be completed by mid-April.

Once registered, participants should contact their cell phone, telephone company, cable company etc. to get the discount. Note that those who qualify for this discount due to Medicaid, SSI, etc. should also check out the USAC “Lifeline” web page as they may also qualify for an additional, permanent internet and phone discount.

The $50 or $75 discount is part of an “Emergency Broadband Benefit” program created by Congress to provide internet service to low-income families during the pandemic. The discount is also available to (1) people with a substantial loss of income since last year, (2) students who receive free or reduced cost meals, (3) Pell grant recipients, and (4) persons receiving certain Tribal benefits.

© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 159
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About this Author

John W. Pestle, telecommunications attorney, Varnum
Counsel

John is a member of the firm's Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Team. Since 1996 he has represented property owners across the country (businesses, developers, schools, churches, municipalities, real estate companies) on the grant, renewal and modification of cell tower leases with companies like Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile and Crown Castle. He has also represented clients on the evaluation or sale of over sixty (60) cell tower leases and future leasing rights to companies like American Tower, Crown Castle, SBA, Wireless Capital Partners,...

616/336-6725
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