Telephone Assistance Programs

In 1987, the Oregon Legislature passed into law a bill as part of the state´s public policy that provides that adequate and affordable residential telephone service be available to all Oregonians. Based on that legislation, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) implemented three special assistance programs: the Telecommunications Devices Access Program (TDAP), the Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service (OTRS), and the Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP). These programs are funded by a surcharge applied to the monthly bill of each retail subscriber who has telecommunications services with access to the OTRS.

The Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP) purchases and loans (at no cost to eligible recipients) special telecommunication devices to Oregonians who are deaf, hearing- and/or speech-impaired, or who have other physical disabilities that would prevent them from using a telephone. Special telecommunication devices such as a TTY (text telephone), visual signal, large visual display, telebraille, remote-controlled speaker phone and voice-activated cellular phones are examples of the telecommunications equipment distributed under the program.

Customers who have TTY (text telephone for the deaf, hearing, or speech impaired) may dial 7-1-1 to reach a relay operator. The relay operator types the conversation to the TTY user. Voice, or standard, users may also use OTRS to contact their deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled family or friends.

Oregonians whose income is at or below the current federal poverty level and are on a state public assistance program may receive a reduction in their monthly bill for local residential telephone service. Eligible customers receive a reduction in their monthly phone bill for as long as they qualify. Half of the amount is funded through the legislatively-approved telecommunications service surcharge, and the other half is the waived portion of the FCC´s subscriber line charge. It is important that those enrolled in the program keep OTAP staff informed of any phone number or address changes to insure that their benefits continue. Lifeline is available on one telephone line per household. Toll Blocking and/or toll control is available for free to Lifeline subscribers. Lifeline discount only available with basic service. Telephone packages do not qualify. All information is treated as strictly confidential by OTAP staff and the local phone companies.

ELIGIBILITY: According to the Public Utility Commission of Oregon, eligibility is determined by participation in one of the following programs:
• Food Stamps / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• National School Lunch Program; Free Lunch Program Only (NSLP)
• Certain State Medical Programs or Certain Medicaid Programs at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Level
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
• Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
• Total household income is at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines​

Lifeline subscribers receive the same residential service as a regular subscriber, but at a reduced monthly recurring rate. Thus, lifeline subscribers have an unlimited number of local calling minutes. As for toll, lifeline subscribers, similar to every Pioneer Telephone Cooperative subscriber, are free to choose their own toll usage plans through long distance providers that serve Pioneer Telephone Cooperative.

HOW TO APPLY: To apply for equipment, to obtain an application for OTAP/Lifeline, or for more information about the Residential Service Protection Fund (RSPF) Programs, please contact the RSPF staff TOLL FREE at 1-800-848-4442 or (503) 373-7171 in Salem; TTY users can call 1-800-648-3458

Information taken from the Oregon Public Utility Board