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Frequently Asked Questions

Why was my application or renewal denied?

If you received a letter denying your participation in California LifeLine, there are many possible reasons for your disqualification. The most common reason is an applicant did not complete and submit the application form by the due date. So please remember to meet the due date.

Here are some possible reasons for a denial:

  • The applicant does not return the form or register online by the due date.
  • The form is incomplete.
  • The applicant does not meet the California LifeLine’s eligibility rules.
  • The form is incorrect (and is not considered correctible).
  • The applicant did not provide the appropriate documentation to prove eligibility.
  • The applicant was claimed on someone else’s income tax return as a dependent.
  • The applicant was already receiving the California LifeLine discounts, and was not eligible for a second phone line with the California LifeLine discounts.
  • The form did not have the applicant’s signature.

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What can I do if my application or renewal is denied?

If your disqualification can be corrected, you will be given a chance to correct it.

If you believe you have been disqualified improperly, you may file a written appeal. No verbal appeal will be accepted. Your appeal must be received by the due date stated on your disqualification letter to be considered. Your appeal must include the following:

  • A copy of your disqualification letter
  • A brief description of your complaint - Please limit your appeal to two pages or less. You can also use the back of your disqualification letter to write down your appeal; and
  • Any supporting document(s) to prove your eligibility.

Your appeal may be faxed to (415) 703-1158 or mailed to:

  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • Consumer Affairs Branch
  • 505 Van Ness Ave
  • San Francisco, CA 94102

It is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except during state holidays.

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I lost my form, how can I get a new one?

Please Contact Us and press # to request a reprint of your form. Remember, you only have 45 days from the date of the original form to return your completed form. Your form will be mailed to you only if it is within the 45 day period given to you to submit the form.

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I lost or forgot my PIN and/or Enrollment Code, how can I find out what it is?

Please Contact Us to get your PIN and/or Enrollment Code. We are available Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. except during state holidays.

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I want to know my application’s status, how can I find out about it?

Please go to Check Your Status to find out your status online. You may also Contact Us to find out about your application’s status. You can check your status 24 hours a day, or customer service representatives are available Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. except during state holidays.

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How can I submit a complaint about my experience with California LifeLine?

You can file a complaint online with the CPUC at http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/cab/.

You can also mail the complaint to the CPUC at:

  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • Consumer Affairs Branch
  • 505 Van Ness Ave
  • San Francisco, CA 94102

It is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except during state holidays. The CPUC's Consumer Affairs Branch can only act on a complaint if there is written documentation about the complaint.

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How much can I save on my home or cell phone bill?

If you qualify for California LifeLine, you will receive discounts on your basic home or cell phone service. Check out the Types of Discounted Services Available to learn about the program’s benefits.

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Who qualifies for the California LifeLine discounts?

Consumers who meet California LifeLine’s eligibility rules can qualify for the discounts. There are two ways to qualify, Program-Based OR Income-Based.

Under Program-Based, you may qualify for the California LifeLine discounts if you or another person in your household is already enrolled in one or more of the eligible public-assistance programs. Check out Is California LifeLine Right for You? to see the list of eligible public-assistance programs.

OR

Under Income-Based you may qualify for California LifeLine if your annual total household income is at or less than the California LifeLine income limits.

Household income includes all incomes received by everyone in your household, whether taxable or non-taxable, including, but not limited to: wages, salaries, interest, dividends, spousal support and child support, grants, gifts, allowances, stipends, public-assistance payments, social security and pensions, rental income, income from self-employment and cash payments from other sources, and all employment-related, non-cash income. Check out Is California LifeLine Right for You? to see the annual income limits.

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Are there any restrictions for being on California LifeLine?

Yes, there are rules stating who can qualify for California LifeLine. Check out Is California LifeLine Right for You? to learn if you and your household qualify.

Also, only one discount per household for each residential address is allowed (except for teletypewriter users and for Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program participants). Each household must choose to get the discount either on a home phone or on a cell phone, but not on both. Households cannot get the discount from multiple phone companies. Households that do not follow the one discount per household rule will lose their discounts.

The applicant cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax returns.

The primary home or cell phone line with the California LifeLine discount must be at the applicant’s main residence.

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Are there any additional benefits if I or a member of my household is hearing impaired and uses TTY equipment?

Yes, if someone in your household is hearing impaired and uses TTY equipment, your household may be eligible for two separate phone lines with the California LifeLine discount. To qualify for the second California LifeLine discount, either you must certify on your form that the TTY was provided to your household by the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program or you must submit a medical certificate demonstrating the need of a TTY by one of the members in your household.

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Are there any additional benefits if I live in a federally recognized tribal land?

Yes, there are additional benefits if your household is located on federally recognized tribal land through the federal government’s Enhanced Lifeline program. You can receive local home phone service for $1.00 per month plus more savings on service installation charges. For more information, visit:

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How do I apply to be on California LifeLine and receive the discounts?

To apply for California LifeLine you must call your home or cell phone company and state you qualify for the program via Program-Based OR Income-Based. Once you tell the home or cell phone company that you qualify, they will begin the application process for you. Within a week, you will be mailed an application form with an Enrollment Code and/or a Personal Identification Number (PIN) in a PINK envelope. In order to receive the California LifeLine benefits, you must complete the form, sign it, and send it to the California LifeLine Administrator along with any required documents before the response date. You may also Apply Online.

You will have 45 days to submit your application by mail or online. Please be sure to sign your application if you are mailing it in. If you do not apply online or return the completed and signed application form by the response date, you will not receive the discounts. If you signed up for home phone service, you will also continue to pay the regular rates. If you signed up for pre-paid cell phone service, we encourage you to find other ways to make and receive calls.

You can check out how the Application Process works for more details.

If you have any questions about your application, status, or response dates, please call the California LifeLine Administrator’s hotline.

If you are submitting your application by mail, then please be sure to send your completed and signed application form to:

  • California LifeLine Program
  • P.O. Box 8417
  • Westminster, CA 92684-8417

If you currently do not have home or cell phone service, you can contact the California LifeLine Call Center or click on Provider Search to determine the available home and cell phone companies in your area.

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What do I need to mail in with my California LifeLine application form?

You need to mail in your completed, signed, application form and your eligibility documentation.

However, if you are applying to participate in California LifeLine via Income-Based, you must provide documents proving that your annual total household income is at or below the California LifeLine annual income limits. Household income includes all incomes received by everyone in your household, whether taxable or non-taxable, including, but not limited to: wages, salaries, interest, dividends, spousal support and child support, grants, gifts, allowances, stipends, public-assistance payments, social security and pensions, rental income, income from self-employment and cash payments from other sources, and all employment-related, non-cash income.

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How do I continue to receive the California LifeLine benefits and remain on the program?

The California LifeLine Administrator will automatically send you a renewal form prior to your anniversary date. You can remain on California LifeLine by making sure you fill out and submit the renewal form by the due date. If you would like to continue your participation in California LifeLine after your anniversary date, you can Renew Online with the use of your PIN number found on your renewal form or return your completed and signed renewal form to:

  • California LifeLine Program
  • P.O. Box 8417
  • Westminster, CA 92684-8417

Check out Annual Renewal Process.

If you did not get the annual renewal form, please Contact Us so we can arrange for you to receive it.

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If I change home or cell phone companies, can I still get the California LifeLine discounts?

Yes, you can remain on California LifeLine and keep getting the discounts even if you change your home or cell phone companies. You have 30 days from when you disconnect your phone service from your existing phone company to let your new preferred home or cell phone company know that you would like to keep your California LifeLine discounts. The California LifeLine Administrator will simply transfer your California LifeLine discount to the new home or cell phone company.

Please make sure that you actually cancel your home or cell phone service with your existing home or cell phone company.

If you do not inform your new home or cell phone company that you have been receiving the California LifeLine discount within the 30-day timeframe, you will have to submit a new application.

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When will I receive the California LifeLine benefits?

You will receive the California LifeLine benefits once the California LifeLine Administrator has approved your application. New applicants for the California LifeLine Program must be approved before the California LifeLine discounts are received.

After submitting the application form and any required documents, the California LifeLine Administrator must determine whether the applicant completed the form correctly and completely, and submitted the required documents. The Administrator must also find out if the applicant is eligible for the program based on his/her responses in the application form.

If you have home phone service, once you are approved to receive the California LifeLine discounts, you will be on California LifeLine as of the date your service began or the date you requested to be enrolled, whichever is later. The discounts will be applied directly to your account.

Beginning January 16, 2014, cell phone companies offering California LifeLine pre-paid cell phone discounts might not provide the handset until the cell phone company has received notification of the applicant’s approved eligibility from the California LifeLine Administrator. While waiting for the discounted services to be approved and activated, we encourage applicants to find other ways to make and receive calls. If approved by the California LifeLine Administrator, the California LifeLine discounts will start either on the date the California LifeLine Administrator notifies the cell phone company of the applicant’s approved eligibility or on the date the discounted service was activated (i.e., the California LifeLine participant can make and receive calls with the handset provided by the California LifeLine cell phone service provider), whichever is later.

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Are there any payment plan options available for me to spread the up-front costs of setting up my home or cell phone service?

Yes, the home or cell phone companies providing basic home or cell phone service and California LifeLine will have interest-free payment plans for you to take advantage of. Please remember to ask the telephone company to put you on an interest-free payment plan if you need help with the payments. This will spread out your payments in more manageable amounts while you wait to be approved for California LifeLine.

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Will the California LifeLine discounts be automatically applied as soon as I call my telephone company to begin the application process?

No, you will have to wait for the California LifeLine Administrator to approve your application to participate in the program. The Administrator will send you a letter confirming your enrollment if you are approved. After your application is approved, you will then begin to receive and see the discounts on your telephone bill.

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Will I get the money back I spent while waiting for my California LifeLine discounts if I have home phone service?

Yes, but only once your application is approved. You will be refunded the difference between the regular rates and the California LifeLine discounted rates for any applicable monthly service charges, service installation/connection fee, service conversion fee, and deposits for basic home phone service.

The refund will be a credit on your next phone bill for the regular rates you paid and any applicable monthly service charges, service installation/connection fee, service conversion fee, and deposits for your basic home phone service. If you have a net credit balance of at least $10.00, you may request a refund check from your home phone company. Otherwise, the refund will appear as a credit on your account.

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How will I get the money back I spent while waiting for my California LifeLine discounts if I have home phone service?

The refund will be a credit on your next phone bill for the regular rates you paid and any applicable monthly service charges, service installation/connection fee, service conversion fee, and deposits for your basic home phone service. If you have a net credit balance of at least $10.00, you may request a refund check from your home phone company. Otherwise, the refund will appear as a credit on your account.

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Once I start getting the California LifeLine discounts, will I always receive them on my home or cell phone bill?

The California LifeLine discounts are only good for one year unless you renew your participation. You must renew your participation each year. The California LifeLine Administrator will contact you when you need to renew your participation in California LifeLine. If you do not renew your participation you will be removed from the program and no longer receive the monthly discount on your home or cell phone bill.

Check out Annual Renewal Process for details.

If you did not get the annual renewal form, please Contact Us so we can arrange for you to receive it.

Your California LifeLine discounts can also be discontinued when you no longer meet the eligibility requirements or if your renewal form is not received within 45 days from the date it was sent to your household. If you do not return the completed and signed renewal form, or if you are determined as ineligible, your home or cell phone company will remove you from the program along with your California LifeLine discount on your monthly bill.

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How can I receive letters, forms, and instructions in a language different from what I am already getting?

Please contact your home or cell phone company to arrange to receive the letters, forms, and instructions in a different language.

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My current home or cell phone company said it does not offer California LifeLine, what should I do?

Not all phone companies are required to provide California LifeLine. Please contact the California LifeLine Call Center or click on Provider Search to determine the available home and cell phone companies in your area.

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Are there other ways that can help me save money on my telephone bill?

There are options that can help you save money, including a voluntary limit on long distance calling (free toll restriction) and free toll blocking. Speak with your home phone company for further money saving options. You can also choose the calling plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. Phone companies offer various calling plans with limited or unlimited local calling.

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How many discounts can I have?

Only one discount per household is allowed. Households must choose to get the discount either on a home phone or a cell phone, but not on both. Households cannot get the discount from multiple phone companies.

A HOUSEHOLD includes adults and children who are living together at the same address as one economic unit. An economic unit consists of all adults (persons at least 18 years old unless emancipated) contributing to and sharing in the household’s income and expenses.

Multiple discounts are only allowed if there are TTY users, Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program participants, or if there are multiple households at the same service address. Individuals who do not follow the one discount per household rule will lose their discount, and may be prosecuted by the U.S. government.

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