The article has been published with the permission of government financial assistance and grants
With the increasing importance of communication technologies, the government must do something for people who cannot afford a cell phone. So in 1985, the federal government started a new program called the Lifeline Assistance program.
The program is now under the FCC and helps millions of Americans by providing free cell phones from the government. Anyone with qualifications can get this phone for free. Today, in this article, we will talk about the federal government’s free cell phone program.
What is the Lifeline Assistance Program?
In order to make telecommunications technologies more affordable for low-income consumers, in 1985, the Federal Government started a new program called the Lifeline Assistance Program.
Through the program, qualified individuals can get a free phone or discounts on cell phones, and discounts on monthly phone or landline service. This cannot be achieved by the government directly. Therefore, several cell phone plan providers participate in this program.
Some providers offer free phone services, such as monthly data, text messages and Internet. Also, if the free plan is not enough for you, you can buy the paid plans, which could be discounted up to $9.25.
How to qualify for the federal government’s free cell phone program
Not everyone can get a free phone from the federal government’s free cell phone program. You must meet some criteria if you want to get the benefits. First, if you or someone in your household is enrolled in other federal government programs, you’ll automatically qualify.
If the first option is not available to you, you must prove your qualification with an annual income. The program is also for low-income households whose income is at or below 135% of the federal family income. If that is the same with you, you may be eligible for the program by providing proof of your low income.
Here, keep one thing in mind: the bigger your home, the easier it will be. It is not clear how? Let me give an example. If you are a single person, you need to try; her annual income is less than $12,760, which I think is ridiculous for most people.
But for each member of your household, the number increases by $4,480, which includes children. If there are four members in the family, if your annual income is less than $30,680, you will qualify.
Like I said, if you’re in other federal programs, you’re also qualified for the Lifeline program. Now, let’s get to know those programs too.
Supplemental Security Income
The US Treasury’s general-funded Supplemental Security Income is a federal program that explicitly targets the elderly and disabled. The program helps those who cannot meet their basic needs due to insufficient income, seniors, and disabled people with financial assistance.
From the beginning to now, more than eight million Americans have received aid, and many are still receiving it. For the next year, SSI decided to pay $841 per month for eligible individuals and $1,261 for couples. Without the government, many states provide additional income to people in need.
You will automatically qualify for Lifeline assistance if you are enrolled in the program.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SNAP is one of the most popular programs that helps low-income families and people with food purchasing power. It was previously known as the “Food Stamp Program.”
They provide money to qualified families to buy food. However, alcoholic beverages and non-food grocery items, including medications and vitamins, are not permitted.
It was said that more than 44 million people have received SNAP so far. In 2021, a family of three has up to $2,353 per month, which means $28,236 per year. And, the allocation will increase next year. Like SSI, without government funding, states also provide life-support cell phones.
Federal public housing assistance
FPHA is another federal assistance program created for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities to help rent homes in the private market. One can find everything from scattered single-family homes to high-end apartments for the elderly.
Program eligibility is not that difficult. But, there are no big fees for the program. If you live in the locations selected by the program, you also qualify for the Lifeline program.
Tribal Head Start
The program is a partnership between ACF and American Indian Tribes for children. Tribal Head Start provides school readiness for children ages birth to five for early childhood education service. Only low-income families qualify for this benefit.
If you enroll your child in this program, you can also take advantage of it and get a free senior cell phone plan from the government with Head Start certification.
Medicaid is also a famous assistance program that provides health care coverage to people in need in the United States. Both the government and the state participate in this action. Each state administers the entire program, so it varies greatly depending on your life status.
It would be helpful if you met the criteria to qualify for the program. The program assists a considerable number of people. According to a survey, about 70.6 million Americans were covered by Medicaid.
More federal programs
Without the programs that I have described above, there are also other programs. Tribal Programs: Includes Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and others.
How do you apply for the federal government’s free cell phone program?
You can apply for a free cell phone quite easily. Before you apply, I’d recommend keeping necessities around, like pay stubs, a W-2 form, or the certificate from the government agency you’re enrolled with.
Without that, your social security card or driver’s license is also needed to complete the form. Usually this is enough to apply, but some providers have additional requirements. You will know them when you fill out the form.
You may know that the government does not provide free phones directly. Few suppliers when it comes to doing the task. In addition, those providers also offer additional free plans.
As for the application, there are two methods that you can follow. Both are online, and both are the same. You can first enroll in the program from within Lifeline Verifier and, if confirmed, show it to the provider you selected. Another way, you can apply from the providers website.
Whatever process you go through, you need to have some patience as it would take some time. If you don’t get a response (it happens quite often), please resubmit and contact the vendors directly.
Major Providers of the Federal Government’s Free Cell Phone Program
Many providers are participating in this free cell phone program from the federal government. You can select any of them and get government cell phone carriers for free. But, the problem comes with the service. What does a phone matter if it doesn’t have a good network and internet speed?
And switching is quite complicated with the Lifeline program. Therefore, there are few providers who have been in this business for a long time and offer a reliable service.
- Wireless support
- Wireless warranty
- EnTouch wireless
- Wireless FeelSafe
- Wireless life
- Infinity mobile
- Wireless secure link
- Wireless Safety Net
- Mobile label
Some providers perform better in some specific areas. If you are in your local area, feel free to select it.
Lifeline Program Restriction
There are some restrictions with the free cell phone Lifeline program, which you must follow. Failure to comply with them will lead to disaffiliation and sometimes the judiciary. Therefore, it is better to take them into account. Another thing that I would recommend is that you provide all the legal information and avoid anything false.
The Lifeline program is only for those who participated in other assistance programs or have low incomes based on income eligibility standards.
- You can only get one phone in your home. Requesting more will get you a permanent ban.
- Failure to maintain or violate the rules means disenrollment from the program.
- You must provide your current residence address.
- Use the phone once every thirty days. Failure to do so may result in suspension of service.
- Phone and free Lifeline services are non-transferable. Only you and your household can use them. If your situation improves and you are no longer qualified, you must return the phone.
- You must notify the authority within thirty days when you have no longer qualified.
Frequently asked questions about the federal government’s free cell phone program
Q: Are free phones free?
Yes, the toll-free phones in the Lifeline programs are totally free. You don’t have to pay anything for them. But you must be eligible to enroll in the federal government’s free cell phone program.
Q: Do any of the big companies participate in the Lifeline programs?
No, none of them are direct participants in the Lifeline program. But, its subsidiary companies are in the programs. And you can get discounts on your plan.
Q: What phones are offered in this free cell phone program from the federal government?
Phone Lifeline program offers aren’t flagships or the latest models from your favorite brands. They’re just regular phones with the ability to talk, text, and do some browsing. After all, they are free phones.
The federal government’s free cell phone program is called the Lifeline program, which helps low-income families achieve technological advances. You can get a free phone, free service, and discounts when paying for paid plans with the program.
But, not everyone is qualified for it. If you meet some criteria, you can enjoy the free service. That was all about this article. By following the simple guide, you can quickly get a free phone.