US NEWS

$50 stimulus to pay internet bill: how to claim it

Registration is now open to claim a monthly $50 coupon towards your internet bill along with other aid as part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

$50 stimulus to pay internet bill: how to claim and who can get it
Fred Ramos Getty Images

Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic whether for working from home, allowing students to continue their studies or to have face time with friends and family with social distancing restrictions keeping us separated. Now tens of millions will receive help paying their monthly internet bill through an emergency government program to help low-income households during the covid-19 pandemic.

As part of the $900 billion December covid-19-relief package the Emergency Broadband Benefit program was established to give eligible households a monthly coupon worth $50 to assist with the internet bill. Additionally, the program offers eligible households a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer from participating providers if the purchaser contributes between $10 and $50 toward the purchase.

How to claim the $50 stimulus to pay internet bill

To begin you will need to go to the program’s website “how to apply” and click on the “Apply Now” tab at the bottom. This will take you to the application site Lifeline National Verifier which is available in English and Spanish, where you can fill out an online form. If you don’t have the capability or Internet speed to apply online, you can also download and print an application, and then mail it.

The site will ask you for your personal information and to prove your identity, with a Social Security number, driver’s license, passport or other ID. Once you’ve set up an account you’ll be asked to upload copies of documents that show you qualify. You can scan the documents or use your smartphone to take a picture. Within a couple of days, you should get notice stating if you’ve been approved. You will then need to contact your ISP provider to let them know that you’ve been approved by the government’s verification system.

For people already enrolled in Lifeline or other programs your eligibility will already be verified. You will just need to notify your ISP that you want to take advantage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit

The program is temporary and will end when the $3.2 billion that has been allocated for the benefit runs out or six months have passed after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the covid-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner. Participating households will need to opt-in to continue receiving broadband services from their provider after the program ends and will be on the hook for the broadband provider’s general monthly rate.

Keep in mind that not all Internet plans are eligible, particularly ultrafast ones. If your internet is bundled with your cable TV or voice service, the coupon technically can only be used to pay for internet, so you may need to get your provider separate out that portion of the bill to subtract the coupon amount. To find a participating provider the program provides a search tool using your zip code.