Maryland Office of People's Counsel and Verizon Urge Eligible Low-Income Marylanders to Sign Up for Reduced-Rate Phone Services Starting at 66 Cents a Month

Low-income Maryland residents may be eligible for discounted phone service through federal and state Lifeline and Link-Up programs. 

Staff from the Maryland Office of People's Counsel and Verizon will be on hand Thursday (Sept. 15) from 10 a.m. to noon in the lobby of the Community Action Council of Howard County's Dasher Green Center, 6680 Cradlerock Way in Columbia, to answer questions and provide information. 

This effort is part of National Lifeline Awareness Week, Sept. 12-18, which is observed to ensure that eligible low-income families and individuals are aware of the discounted Lifeline and Link-Up phone programs and to encourage enrollment.  Awareness efforts will continue throughout the year.   

"Raising awareness of Lifeline and Link-Up is half the battle in making sure that limited-income customers get access to necessary telephone service," said Maryland People's Counsel Paula M. Carmody.  "These programs provide significant assistance to eligible customers in setting up and paying for telephone service and helping them to stay connected."

Under Lifeline, qualified Marylanders could pay as little as 66 cents a month for up to 30 outgoing local calls, or $10 a month for unlimited local calling.  Link-Up lowers the cost that eligible consumers pay for setting up new phone service at their home, including cell phone service.  This federal program pays a maximum of $30 toward the initial installation fee for landline phone service in Maryland.  When the program is combined with state support, customers who enroll in Verizon's Lifeline program will not pay any installation charges. 

William R. Roberts, Verizon's president in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, said, "At Verizon, we know how critical communications are, and we work hard every day to enhance and maintain our network - making it one customers can count on when they need it most."  

Marylanders who have been certified by the Maryland Department of Human Resources to receive one or more of the following public assistance benefits can apply for Lifeline and Link-Up services: Electric Universal Service Program; food stamps; Maryland Energy Assistance Program; medical assistance; Public Assistance to Adults; Supplemental Security Income; Temporary Cash Assistance; and Temporary Disability Assistance Program.  To contact the DHR regarding these public assistance benefits, call 1-800-332-6347.

"Lifeline is an innovative program that recognizes the importance of telephonic communication to low-income residents and is one more link in the chain of becoming self-sufficient," said Bita Dayhoff, president of the Community Action Council of Howard County, which provides assistance to individuals enrolled in programs eligible for Lifeline.

For more information about the Lifeline program in Maryland, visit www.lifelinesupport.org and click on "Maryland."  To sign up or learn more about Verizon's Lifeline discount phone plans, call 1-800-525-0145.

About the Maryland Office of People's Counsel
The Maryland Office of People's Counsel (OPC), created in 1924, is the oldest utility consumer advocacy office of its kind in the United States.  OPC is a State of Maryland agency, yet works independently to represent Maryland's residential consumers of electric, natural gas, telecommunications, private water and certain transportation matters before the PSC, federal regulatory agencies and the courts.  Every day OPC's staff members address issues affecting the cost, quality of service and adequate supply of these utility services.  As such, OPC's advocacy touches the lives of every resident of Maryland.  To learn more, please visit www.opc.state.md.us.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.