Our view: Lifeline, anyone?

September 13, 2012 9:49:26 AM



Brandon Presley's visit to Columbus on Wednesday included a stop at The Dispatch. Presley is the Northern District Public Service Commissioner. 


Generally, when public officials drop in for an impromptu talk with the paper's editorial board, it is a calculated move to get across an agenda. 


But if Presley has any specific agenda in mind, it wasn't the sort that would arouse much controversy. 


One of the messages that Presley wants to get out is that an awful lot of people are taking a pass on a $120 benefit that requires only a minimum amount of effort. 


Presley brought with him a form that is available at any phone service provider's office. It is called the Lifeline Assistance Program and it provides a $9.95 per month benefit to eligible candidates. 


While roughly $10 a month isn't exactly a windfall, it seems like that those who qualify for the benefit could certainly find a good use for it. 


Currently, Presley said about 200,000 Mississippians have signed up for the program. He suspects that number represents only a fraction of state residents who qualify for the benefit. 


Essentially, there are two areas of eligibility -- program-based and income-based. 


Those who are enrolled in programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, Supplemental Social Security and a few other programs are eligible. 


Income-based qualifications include households up to $52,502, based on the number or residents in the household. 


When you consider that the median household income of Mississippians, according to the latest U.S. Census figures, is $37,881 and that 21.2 percent of Mississippians live below the federal poverty level, it's likely that there are thousands of resident who qualify for this benefit. 


Applying for the Lifeline Assistance program is simple: Forms are available at all phone service provider locations. The forms, along with some proof of eligibility, can be mailed to the Public Service Commission offices. There is no application fee. 


Admittedly, $9.95 per month isn't a lot.  


But it's certainly worth the minimum of effort that is required to get it. 


The get the form online or for further information, including specific eligibility guidelines, go to mpus.ms.gov/utility/telecomm/lifeline.html.