On October 2, 2018, the FCC announced that it will finally launch the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in an initial slate of six states on November 2, 2018. Lifeline providers in these states—Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—will be required to determine Lifeline subscribers’ eligibility using the National Verifier beginning on that date. Subscribers in these states underwent a process of “reverification” before being included in the database.
This launch comes nearly a year later than anticipated in the FCC’s 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. In that order, the FCC anticipated that it would launch in five states before the end of 2017, and that it would be operational in 25 states by the end of 2018. Moreover, this effort is actually the second time in the program’s history that the FCC has attempted to create a national eligibility database. The FCC originally conceived of the idea in its 2012 Lifeline Reform Order, in which it directed its staff and USAC to implement such a database “no later than the end of 2013.” The six year delay has been due to, among other things, the complexities of verifying the eligibility of millions of consumers through a variety of sources, including third party databases used to manage qualifying programs such as SNAP and Medicaid, as well as paper-based means.
USAC will provide training to Lifeline providers on the use of the National Verifier, and online resource materials are available on USAC’s website. Also, accompanying the new National Verifier is a web portal that will permit consumers for the first time to check their own eligibility independently of any carrier: CheckLifeline.org.