47 CFR 54.410 - Subscriber eligibility determination and certification.

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§ 54.410 Subscriber eligibility determination and certification.

(a) All eligible telecommunications carriers must implement policies and procedures for ensuring that their Lifeline subscribers are eligible to receive Lifeline services. An eligible telecommunications carrier may not provide a consumer with an activated device that it represents enables use of Lifeline-supported service, nor may it activate service that it represents to be Lifeline service, unless and until it has:

(1) Confirmed that the consumer is a qualifying low-income consumer pursuant to § 54.409, and;

(2) Completed the eligibility determination and certification required by this section and §§ 54.404 through 54.405, and completed any other necessary enrollment steps.

(b) Initial income-based eligibility determination.

(1) Except where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator or other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility, when a prospective subscriber seeks to qualify for Lifeline using the income-based eligibility criteria provided for in § 54.409(a)(1) an eligible telecommunications carrier:

(i) Must not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline to a subscriber, unless the carrier has received a certification of eligibility from the prospective subscriber that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section and has confirmed the subscriber's income-based eligibility using the following procedures:

(A) If an eligible telecommunications carrier can determine a prospective subscriber's income-based eligibility by accessing one or more databases containing information regarding the subscriber's income (“income databases”), the eligible telecommunications carrier must access such income databases and determine whether the prospective subscriber qualifies for Lifeline.

(B) If an eligible telecommunications carrier cannot determine a prospective subscriber's income-based eligibility by accessing income databases, the eligible telecommunications carrier must review documentation that establishes that the prospective subscriber meets the income-eligibility criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(1). Acceptable documentation of income eligibility includes the prior year's state, federal, or Tribal tax return; current income statement from an employer or paycheck stub; a Social Security statement of benefits; a Veterans Administration statement of benefits; a retirement/pension statement of benefits; an Unemployment/Workers' Compensation statement of benefit; federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance; or a divorce decree, child support award, or other official document containing income information. If the prospective subscriber presents documentation of income that does not cover a full year, such as current pay stubs, the prospective subscriber must present the same type of documentation covering three consecutive months within the previous twelve months.

(ii) Must securely retain copies of documentation demonstrating a prospective subscriber's income-based eligibility for Lifeline consistent with § 54.417, except to the extent such documentation is retained by the National Verifier.

(2) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility, an eligible telecommunications carrier must not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline service to a subscriber, based on that subscriber's income eligibility, unless the carrier has received from the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency:

(i) Notice that the prospective subscriber meets the income-eligibility criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(1); and

(ii) A copy of the subscriber's certification that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section.

(iii) An eligible telecommunications carrier must securely retain all information and documentation provided by the state Lifeline administrator or other state agency consistent with § 54.417.

(c) Initial program-based eligibility determination.

(1) Except in states where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's program-based eligibility, when a prospective subscriber seeks to qualify for Lifeline service using the program-based criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(2) or (b), an eligible telecommunications carrier:

(i) Must not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline to a subscriber unless the carrier has received a certification of eligibility from the subscriber that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section and has confirmed the subscriber's program-based eligibility using the following procedures:

(A) If the eligible telecommunications carrier can determine a prospective subscriber's program-based eligibility for Lifeline by accessing one or more databases containing information regarding enrollment in qualifying assistance programs (“eligibility databases”), the eligible telecommunications carrier must access such eligibility databases to determine whether the prospective subscriber qualifies for Lifeline based on participation in a qualifying assistance program; or

(B) If an eligible telecommunications carrier cannot determine a prospective subscriber's program-based eligibility for Lifeline by accessing eligibility databases, the eligible telecommunications carrier must review documentation demonstrating that a prospective subscriber qualifies for Lifeline under the program-based eligibility requirements. Acceptable documentation of program eligibility includes the current or prior year's statement of benefits from a qualifying assistance program, a notice or letter of participation in a qualifying assistance program, program participation documents, or another official document demonstrating that the prospective subscriber, one or more of the prospective subscriber's dependents or the prospective subscriber's household receives benefits from a qualifying assistance program.

(ii) Must securely retain copies of the documentation demonstrating a subscriber's program-based eligibility for Lifeline, consistent with § 54.417, except to the extent such documentation is retained by the National Verifier.

(2) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility, when a prospective subscriber seeks to qualify for Lifeline service using the program-based eligibility criteria provided in § 54.409(a)(2) or (b), an eligible telecommunications carrier must not seek reimbursement for providing Lifeline to a subscriber unless the carrier has received from the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator or other state agency:

(i) Notice that the subscriber meets the program-based eligibility criteria set forth in § 54.409(a)(2) or (b); and

(ii) a copy of the subscriber's certification that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section.

(iii) An eligible telecommunications carrier must securely retain all information and documentation provided by the state Lifeline administrator or other state agency consistent with § 54.417.

(d) Eligibility certification form. Eligible telecommunications carriers and state Lifeline administrators or other state agencies that are responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline must provide prospective subscribers Lifeline certification forms that provide the information in paragraphs (d)(1) through (3) of this section in clear, easily understood language. If a Federal eligibility certification form is available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form to enroll a qualifying low-income consumer into the Lifeline program.

(1) The form provided by the entity enrolling subscribers must provide the information in paragraphs (d)(1)(i) through (vi) of this section:

(i) Lifeline is a federal benefit and that willfully making false statements to obtain the benefit can result in fines, imprisonment, de-enrollment or being barred from the program;

(ii) Only one Lifeline service is available per household;

(iii) A household is defined, for purposes of the Lifeline program, as any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income and expenses;

(iv) A household is not permitted to receive Lifeline benefits from multiple providers;

(v) Violation of the one-per-household limitation constitutes a violation of the Commission's rules and will result in the subscriber's de-enrollment from the program; and

(vi) Lifeline is a non-transferable benefit and the subscriber may not transfer his or her benefit to any other person.

(2) The form provided by the entity enrolling subscribers must require each prospective subscriber to provide the information in paragraphs (d)(2)(i) through (viii) of this section:

(i) The subscriber's full name;

(ii) The subscriber's full residential address;

(iii) Whether the subscriber's residential address is permanent or temporary;

(iv) The subscriber's billing address, if different from the subscriber's residential address;

(v) The subscriber's date of birth;

(vi) The last four digits of the subscriber's social security number, or the subscriber's Tribal identification number, if the subscriber is a member of a Tribal nation and does not have a social security number;

(vii) If the subscriber is seeking to qualify for Lifeline under the program-based criteria, as set forth in § 54.409, the name of the qualifying assistance program from which the subscriber, his or her dependents, or his or her household receives benefits; and

(viii) If the subscriber is seeking to qualify for Lifeline under the income-based criterion, as set forth in § 54.409, the number of individuals in his or her household.

(3) The form provided by the entity enrolling subscribers shall require each prospective subscriber to initial his or her acknowledgement of each of the certifications in paragraphs (d)(3)(i) through (viii) of this section individually and under penalty of perjury:

(i) The subscriber meets the income-based or program-based eligibility criteria for receiving Lifeline, provided in § 54.409;

(ii) The subscriber will notify the carrier within 30 days if for any reason he or she no longer satisfies the criteria for receiving Lifeline including, as relevant, if the subscriber no longer meets the income-based or program-based criteria for receiving Lifeline support, the subscriber is receiving more than one Lifeline benefit, or another member of the subscriber's household is receiving a Lifeline benefit.

(iii) If the subscriber is seeking to qualify for Lifeline as an eligible resident of Tribal lands, he or she lives on Tribal lands, as defined in 54.400(e);

(iv) If the subscriber moves to a new address, he or she will provide that new address to the eligible telecommunications carrier within 30 days;

(v) The subscriber's household will receive only one Lifeline service and, to the best of his or her knowledge, the subscriber's household is not already receiving a Lifeline service;

(vi) The information contained in the subscriber's certification form is true and correct to the best of his or her knowledge,

(vii) The subscriber acknowledges that providing false or fraudulent information to receive Lifeline benefits is punishable by law; and

(viii) The subscriber acknowledges that the subscriber may be required to re-certify his or her continued eligibility for Lifeline at any time, and the subscriber's failure to re-certify as to his or her continued eligibility will result in de-enrollment and the termination of the subscriber's Lifeline benefits pursuant to § 54.405(e)(4).

(e) The National Verifier, state Lifeline administrators or other state agencies that are responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline must provide each eligible telecommunications carrier with a copy of each of the certification forms collected by the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator or other state agency for that carrier's subscribers.

(f) Annual eligibility re-certification process.

(1) All eligible telecommunications carriers must re-certify all subscribers 12 months after the subscriber's service initiation date and every 12 months thereafter, except for subscribers in states where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency is responsible for the annual re-certification of subscribers' Lifeline eligibility.

(2) In order to re-certify a subscriber's eligibility, an eligible telecommunications carrier must confirm a subscriber's current eligibility to receive Lifeline by:

(i) Querying the appropriate eligibility databases, confirming that the subscriber still meets the program-based eligibility requirements for Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review; or

(ii) Querying the appropriate income databases, confirming that the subscriber continues to meet the income-based eligibility requirements for Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review.

(iii) If the subscriber's program-based or income-based eligibility for Lifeline cannot be determined by accessing one or more state databases containing information regarding enrollment in qualifying assistance programs, then the eligible telecommunications carrier may obtain a signed certification from the subscriber on a form that meets the certification requirements in paragraph (d) of this section. If a Federal eligibility recertification form is available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form to re-certify a qualifying low-income consumer.

(iv) In states in which the National Verifier has been implemented, the eligible telecommunications carrier cannot re-certify subscribers not found in the National Verifier by obtaining a certification form from the subscriber.

(3) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency is responsible for re-certification of a subscriber's Lifeline eligibility, the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or state agency must confirm a subscriber's current eligibility to receive a Lifeline service by:

(i) Querying the appropriate eligibility databases, confirming that the subscriber still meets the program-based eligibility requirements for Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review; or

(ii) Querying the appropriate income databases, confirming that the subscriber continues to meet the income-based eligibility requirements for Lifeline, and documenting the results of that review.

(iii) If the subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline cannot be determined by accessing one or more databases containing information regarding enrollment in qualifying assistance programs, then the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or state agency may obtain a signed certification from the subscriber on a form that meets the certification requirements in paragraph (d) of this section. If a Federal eligibility recertification form is available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form to recertify a qualifying low-income consumer.

(4) Where the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency is responsible for re-certification of subscribers' Lifeline eligibility, the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency must provide to each eligible telecommunications carrier the results of its annual re-certification efforts with respect to that eligible telecommunications carrier's subscribers.

(5) If an eligible telecommunications carrier is unable to re-certify a subscriber or has been notified by the National Verifier, a state Lifeline administrator, or other state agency that it is unable to re-certify a subscriber, the eligible telecommunications carrier must comply with the de-enrollment requirements provided for in § 54.405(e)(4).

(g) One-Per-Household Worksheet. The prospective subscriber will complete a form certifying compliance with the one-per-household rule upon initial enrollment. Such form will provide an explanation of the one-per-household rule; include a check box that the applicant can mark to indicate that he or she lives at an address occupied by multiple households; a space for the applicant to certify that he or she shares an address with other adults who do not contribute income to the applicant's household and share in the household's expenses or benefit from the applicant's income; and the penalty for consumer's failure to make the required one-per-household certification, i.e. de-enrollment. At re-certification, if there are changes to the subscriber's household that would prevent the subscriber from accurately certifying to § 54.410(d)(3)(vi), then the subscriber must complete a new One-Per-Household Worksheet. If a Federal One Per Household Form is available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form.

(h) National Verifier transition. As the National Verifier is implemented in a state, the obligations in paragraphs (b) through (g) of this section with respect to the National Verifier and eligible telecommunications carriers will also take effect.

[77 FR 12970, Mar. 2, 2012, as amended at 77 FR 38534, June 28, 2012; 78 FR 40970, July 9, 2013; 80 FR 40935, July 14, 2015; 81 FR 33093, May 24, 2016]
Effective Date Notes:
1. At 81 FR 33093, May 24, 2016, § 54.410 was amended revising paragraphs (b)(1) introductory text, (b)(1)(i)(B), (b)(1)(ii), (b)(2) introductory text, (b)(2)(i), (c)(1) introductory text, (c)(1)(ii), (c)(2) introductory text, (c)(2)(i),(d) introductory text,(d)(1) introductory text, (d)(2) introductory text, and (d)(3) introductory text, removing paragraph (d)(3)(v) and redesignating paragraphs (d)(3)(vi) through (ix) as paragraphs (d)(3)(v) through (viii), revising paragraphs (e), (f)(1), and (f)(2)(ii) and (iii), adding paragraph (f)(2)(iv), revising paragraphs (f)(3) introductory text, (f)(3)(ii) and (iii), (f)(4) and (5), and (g) and adding paragraph (h). This section contains information collection and recordkeeping requirements and will not become effective until approval has been given by the Office of Management and Budget.

2. At 81 FR 45974, July 15, 2016, § 54.410 was amended in paragraphs (b)(1)(ii), (f)(2)(iii), and (f)(4), and (f)(5). These amendments contain information collection and recordkeeping requirements and will not become effective until approval has been given by the Office of Management and Budget.

Title 47 published on 2015-10-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 47 CFR Part 54 after this date.

  • 2016-10-07; vol. 81 # 195 - Friday, October 7, 2016
    1. 81 FR 69696 - Connect America Fund, Connect America Fund—Alaska Plan, Universal Service Reform—Mobility Fund
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      FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
      Final rule.
      Effective November 7, 2016, except for §§ 54.313(f)(1)(i), 54.313(f)(3), 54.313(l), 54.316(a)(1), 54.316(a)(5) and (6), 54.316(b)(6), 54.320(d), and 54.321 which contain new or modified information collection requirements that will not be effective until approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The Federal Communications Commission will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date for those sections.
      47 CFR Parts 54 and 69