On March 7, 2013, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ("PUC") issued a public notice reminding eligible low income Minnesotans that they must re-certify their eligibility in order to continue to receive benefits under the federal Lifeline program and the state Telephone Assistance Program ("TAP") for low income individuals.
The PUC indicated that is has "received numerous inquiries" from customers who were recently removed from Lifeline and TAP and "is concerned that many of the customers who were removed from the programs are still eligible but simply have not submitted the annual application as required by the new [Federal Communications Commission] rules" requiring re-certification. The PUC directed customers who are no longer receiving Lifeline and TAP discounts and believe they qualify to request an application from a telephone service provider.
PUC Chair Beverly Jones Heydinger stressed the critical nature of Lifeline benefits: "It is critical that all Minnesotans have telephone access in order to keep in touch in today’s changing world and to be able to make contact with needed emergency services. … While it is important to maintain the integrity of the programs by confirming that the benefits are extended only to those who truly qualify, it is also important that those who are eligible receive the assistance they need." Commissioner Mike Rothman of the Minnesota Department of Commerce echoed these sentiments, stating: "Lifeline and TAP make a big difference in the lives and family budgets of Minnesotans. I urge all consumers who have qualified for the programs in the past to review their phone bills to ensure that these credits are being applied, and to contact their local service provider if the credits do not appear on their bill."