HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Within the last week, Congress passed legislation extending the Lifeline Program.
The expansion will help millions gain the connectivity they need to search for jobs, apply for benefits, access virtual learning, and see health care providers through telehealth.
Between 25 and 30 percent of Americans qualify for this program and could receive unlimited free talk, text and data, whether they have recently lost a job or are on government assistance, including veterans pension and survivors benefits.
“This particular program is just another tool that we can help people just be able to stay afloat during this tough period,” said Terri Womack, the Veteran Support Services Manager for Still Serving Veterans.
She and Jim King work for Still Serving Veterans, a nonprofit that helps veterans and their families gain access to VA benefits, resources, and employment.
That’s a big reason they find the Lifeline Program so important. It gives people the ability to find job opportunities in a world that’s moved online.
“When they’re search for a job, they have to be able to communicate and the places that they’re searching for employment have to be able to community back to candidates and so the phone… that phone is that lifeline,” said King, the Director of Programs of the nonprofit.
King says that Lifeline could be the deciding factor between the hiring or dismissal of a candidate.
“The ability for them to be able to reach out for job interviews and also so that they have an understanding that if they do hire that person, they’re going to be able to be in communication with them,” he added.
“You know, in this period when people can feel so isolated and feel like they don’t have any sort of leg up, just small programs like this can help give people a lifeline to help them feel like they can reach out,” said Womack.
The Federal Communications Commission is working on implementation details that are expected to be ready at the end of the month.
The Covid Lifeline Program has been extended an additional four months, through June 30.