Nowadays, having a phone seems like a normal thing. Even so, there are still many people who can’t afford to buy a phone. Senior citizens, for example. Many of them live alone, managing on low or sometimes no income at all. This can make owning a phone an unobtainable luxury. Providing free phones for senior citizens can therefore be a real blessing.
Eager to address this situation, the US government has made it possible for senior citizens to get a free phone. There’s a government initiative called the ‘Lifeline Program’, which with the support of some of the country’s major telecoms companies enables free phones for senior citizens to become a reality. Let’s take a closer look!
Why Do Senior Citizens Need Phones?
The government has a special program specifically for senior citizens. How necessary it is for senior citizens to own a phone? Do they need it? Here’s why providing one for them is a good idea.
In case of Emergency
Many senior citizens live alone, they don’t have anyone on-hand to help them in the event of an emergency. Providing phones for senior citizens can help mitigate some of the potential issues. Not only for personal reasons but also for health. Senior citizens can be more prone to sickness. Some of them may have serious health debilitating illnesses already. Some manufacturers have taken this into consideration by providing the best cell phones for seniors with dementia. A cell phone can help them to call the hospital if there’s ever an emergency. It’s reassuring to know that help can be quickly and easily summoned if necessary.
For Personal Entertainment
Statistics released recently by the US Census Bureau reveal that almost a third of Americans aged over 65 live alone. Living alone can, by its very nature be a lonely experience. Senior citizens in particular can feel alone and isolated in today’s society.
Loneliness can lead to depression and other mental illnesses. Having a phone to hand can help provide a little entertainment and light relief. They can social network and play games. They can also keep in touch with their family or relatives that may be far away. Lots of features on a phone can help to break the monotony of living alone.
Tips on Choosing the Best Program
There are many options available when it comes to free phones for senior citizens. Be it from the government or not. You can even choose between home phones or cell phones. You may have already given some thought to the benefits available. So many options can lead to confusion and indecision in choosing the best program. Here are some things to consider which may make choosing the right program for a senior citizen a little easier.
Choose the best carrier in Your Area
One of the first things to consider when choosing the best program is the carrier. Having a phone isn’t only about the phone itself but also the service it provides. The Lifeline Program has multiple carriers participating. You can select which carrier suits you best. Make sure to choose the best carrier in your state. Certain carriers may only take part in the program in certain states. This also applies to when you pick the program outside of the government initiative as well.
Compare Each Program
If you’re lucky enough to live in a state that has more than one carrier participating in the Lifeline program, then you absolutely need to compare each carrier and choose one that suits you best. You can compare either the cell phone or the plans that they provide. Find the best and cheapest cell phone plans for seniors. Most of the programs’ requirements are the same as the Government’s. So, the procedure for joining any Lifeline program will be similar. If for some reason you happen to find differences or a difficulty in applying in one particular program you can always look for an alternative. This can be particularly relevant if you opt for a program outside of the government initiative.
Choose Home Phone or Cell Phone
Previously the Lifeline Program used to only give home phones when cell phone usage wasn’t as popular as it is now. But you still go for a home phone if that’s more suitable for you. It can only be either / or, so it’s wise to pick whichever options fit your circumstance best. If you’re likely to be at home most of the time, you should probably go for the home phone.
Home phones can also be the best option for senior citizens who may often forget where they’ve put things. Everyone can forget where they last had their cell phone, not just the elderly. But if you tend to spend a lot of time outside the house, or happen to visit different places often, a cell phone might be a better option. Senior citizens living in nursing homes would probably fair better with a cell phone rather than a home phone or landline.
From the Government: Lifeline Program
The US government provides a program for senior citizens to benefit from a free phone. They call it The Lifeline Program. It is available in all states in the US, as well in Native American Tribal Communities. The Lifeline Program doesn’t only provide phones for senior citizens. The purpose of this program is to give free phones to households on low incomes. Until 2012 The Lifeline Program only provided a home phone service to citizens on a low income. Now the program has been extended to provide the option of a complimentary cell phone as well.
The Lifeline Program doesn’t only give senior citizen free phones. They provide free telecom services like unlimited text messages and mobile data. The phone and the carrier may be different based on the state you live in. Requirements in every state may also vary. Several criteria have to be met to get free phones for senior citizens. Here is the guide:
Proof of Age and Income Requirements
First off, the applicant must be at least 65 years old or older. They have a gross annual income either at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). The guideline itself may be different based on where you live. The government always updates the FPG at the end of January. If you meet these requirements, you can apply for a free phone.
Proof of Federal Programs
Second, the applicant must be a part of an existing government support program. There are so many applicable programs. For example, Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Other programs are Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Veterans and survivors pension can also join this program.
Tribal Lifeline Program
Do you live in a tribal area that is recognized by the federal government? If so you can apply to join the Tribal Lifeline Program. Tribal lands include Indian tribe reservation. This also extends to former reservations in Hawaii and Oklahoma. People living in the Native Alaskan Region and Indian Allotments can apply to join as well. People enrolled in programs like the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations can also sign up.
Tribal TANF and Head Start for households are eligible to join, qualified by income only. Make sure to apply for Tribal Lifeline Program if applicable.
About Household-Related Requirements
The Lifeline Program applies to only one person per household. A household is a group of people who live together and share income and expenses. An example of a ‘household’ could be a married couple. It can also be a parent or guardian with the children. An adult who supports their family or relatives’ finances is regarded as one household. If you live with roommates but don’t share income, you are considered as being different households. The same is true if you live with 30 other seniors in an assisted-living house complex or nursing house.
Get the Documents Checked!
If you tick any of the boxes, you can apply to join the Lifeline Program. You have to submit a couple of documents. First, your identity. It can be in your name or the name of someone (in your household) who’s qualified. You can sign for one person in your household on her or his behalf. This is referred to as the Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP). You will need to show evidence of your income. For example, your prior year’s tax return, either state, tribal, or federal.
You can also sign up for Lifeline via any existing government support program Simply fill in the name of the program that you’re already enrolled in using the government or tribal program administrator who issued the document as a reference. The documentary evidence provided must be from this year or last year only. It’s wise to ensure that the documents related to any government-funded program are kept up to date and renewed as and when applicable.
Providers Available in the Lifeline Program
Several providers take part in the government’s Lifeline Program, including giving away free phones for senior citizens. Each provider has more or less the same requirements for participation in the Lifeline Program. Your state may have more than one provider that participates in the program. Some providers may only be available in certain states. The level of benefit may vary from state to state. Before you make your decision, here’s a quick overview of each provider. There are a total of 14 providers offering multiple benefits.
Tracfone owns Safelink Wireless and it’s available in almost all regions in the US. Tracfone Wireless is the largest company when it comes to a prepaid provider. Safelink Wireless offers free cell phones with a free SIM Card. It also provides 350 minutes of complimentary talk time, unlimited text messages, and 3GB data every month. You will get some features like voicemail, caller ID, and three-way calling as well. Safelink Wireless’s 4G coverage is available in almost every state in the US. It also has free access to 911 and 411 in case of any emergency. Safelink Wireless supports the Lifeline program in about 40 states throughout the US. You can even bring your existing phone and sign up for the service plan.
Assurance Wireless is a subsidiary of Virgin Mobile. It provides a free cell phone with a host of benefits. They will give you a free Android phone (you will need to pay for the shipping). They offer 350 minutes of free talk time and even unlimited phone calls in California. Assurance Wireless provides free unlimited text messages and 2GB data. The free cell phone service may be different in some states, so make sure to check what is available in your area. It also has free access to 911 and 211. Assurance Wireless is available in more than 30 states in the US. Including Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Q Link Wireless
Besides giving away free phones for senior citizens, Qlink Wireless is one of the fastest-growing providers in the program. You can get free monthly phone services if you are eligible for the Lifeline Program. By joining Q Link Wireless, you will receive a ZTE phone. You will get a thousand free minutes calling every month. You’ll also get free unlimited text messages and international messaging. 3GB internet data is also available. You don’t need a credit check, monthly bills, or contracts to be a part of Q Link Wireless.
Life Wireless supports the Lifeline Program. American citizens on low incomes have a chance to get a free phone service every month. Some people can even get a free phone as well. Life Wireless provides affordable plans for those who aren’t qualified. If you match with Lifeline Program’s requirements, then you can sign up for Life Wireless. By joining the Life Wireless service, you will get unlimited text messaging. You will as well get free 911 service, no charges for roaming, and domestic long-distance calls. Life Wireless can additionally provide you caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling, and voicemail. Life Wireless service is available in 28 states in the US.
TruConnect is a wireless provider that gives Lifeline and pay as you go service. When it comes to the Lifeline Program, you can follow the same rules as for the government. Then you can choose TruConnect if it’s suitable for your region. It is available in around 21 states in the US. In joining TruConnect, you will get services like 3GB data every month. You will also get free calls and text messages. You can have features like free international calls for selected countries. Some qualified people can even get a free 5” Android phone.
If you happen to live in Oklahoma, Missouri, or Kentucky, Easy Wireless can be your choice. Easy Wireless gives eligible customers free unlimited text messages and 750 minutes of talk time. You will also get 25MB mobile data. You will be charged for extra services, like unlimited minutes and up to 5GB mobile data. The extra charge costs you from 1USD up to 40USD, based on the plan you choose.
Eligible customers that sign up for a tribal plan can get more services. They will get unlimited texts, unlimited minutes, and mobile data worth 2GB. The tribal plan is available in Oklahoma only. It’s easy to sign up for Easy Wireless. Make sure to include your birthdate on the form. Don’t forget the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN) when applying to the phone company or the state agency. Let the company know if you happen to move to another place. You have to tell the company if your circumstances change and you’re no longer eligible for the program.
Cintex Wireless gives free phones for senior citizens and others along with a service plan to those in need. It starts with the thought that smartphones can do more than just send a text message or make a phone call. If you live around Arkansas, Maryland, West Virginia, or Rhode Island then, this provider can be the one for you. You will get a free monthly plan with 1GB data, 1000 free minutes, and unlimited texts. Cintex Wireless gives you features like free voicemail, 3-way calling, and caller ID. This provider also gives you national calling and access to the 911 service.
Now, it’s the turn of Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas. They have True Wireless on their list of potential providers. The offers on every state may be different. True Wireless Inc. is an Oklahoma based company. They have distributed wireless phones and applicable services under the Lifeline Program. Arkansas, Maryland, and Rhode Island eligible customers can avail of the same plan. They get free 1000 minutes talk time, 1000 text messages, and 2GB internet data each month. Oklahoma non-tribal customers get 1750 minutes calls, 2000 text messages, and 2GB data. Texas
Customers are under SurgePhone, True Wireless’ sister company. It offers a value plan which consists of unlimited texts, 10 hours of free talk, and 1GB internet data per month. There is the Texas Sweet Plan and the Texas Boss Plan if you want to upgrade your service. Each costs an additional 10USD and 35USD every month.
Tag Mobile is a telecommunication company based in Dallas, Texas. The Tag Mobile is available in 19 states in the US, like South Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. You will get more benefits by using Tag Mobile if you happen to live in California. This company offers 1000 free minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB LTE internet data. For California, you will be able to get a free smartphone. This includes the 4GB LTE internet data, free unlimited minutes, and text messages.
Entouch Wireless is a fast-growing telecom provider. They’re available in 34 states in the US. They have special offers if you live in either California or Kentucky. Most states get free unlimited text, 1000 minutes of calling, and 100MB internet data. The California plan offers unlimited texts and minutes, as well as 3GB internet data. The California tribal plan offers the same as the regular California plan. The difference being on the internet data, which you’ll have 5GB instead of 3GB.
American Assistance is available in 16 states. Same as Tag Mobile, this provider gives more benefit if you live in California. They give you free unlimited calls and text messages. They also provide 4GB internet data for free every month. You’ll be charged a 25USD fee for activating the Lifeline program outside the state of California. You can get a free smartphone and 3GB internet data. As well as 500 minutes of free calls and unlimited text messages.
Safetynet Wireless is available in 8 states. Do you live in California? Because you can sign up for their Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) plan. You will get 2.5GB internet data for free each month. It also consists of free unlimited text messages and unlimited minutes. You can as well get a free phone along with free text messages and free minutes. This applies if you go for a phone without the internet. Seven other states outside California may incur an extra charge for the activation fee. They are Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The basic service will get you a free smartphone with 50MB internet data every month. This already includes 1000 minutes of talk, and unlimited texts.
You can find Terracom Wireless in 22 states. There may be differences in every state when it comes to the Lifeline plan. Other states outside Kansas, Nebraska, Washington, and Oklahoma have the same service plan. If you’re a subscriber with a data-capable handset, you can get the Broadband Base Plan. The plan consists of 500 minutes, unlimited text, and 3GB data each month for free.
Many providers serve more than one state, but this provider is exclusive to the state of Alaska. If you live in Alaska, then TelAlaska can be your choice. TelAlaska provides a high-quality cell phone like VeryKool i33 or similar. Consumers will get unlimited calls within the TelAlaska Cellular Network. For long-distance calls, you will get 400 free minutes each month. You will get free unlimited text messages and features like voicemail. One thing to be aware of is, this plan doesn’t include a roaming feature.
Outside the Government: 911 Cell Phone Bank
911 Cell Phone Bank is a program by Charitable Recycling Organization Inc. in Ocala, Florida. The organization’s focus is to convert pre-used hardware like cell phones. They have championed the idea of reusing the phone for those in need. They have been supporting citizens on low incomes since 2004. Have distributed more than 100,000 emergency cell phones. Don’t only give free phones to senior citizens. They also serve to schools, businesses, and agency partners.
You can get a free phone for senior citizens from 911 Only Cell Phone Bank. You can contact your law enforcement agency or shelter and you can tell them why you are eligible for it. They can later request to 911 Only Cell Phone Bank on your behalf. 911 Only Cell Phone Bank doesn’t only give phones but is also open for any donations. If you have a cell phone you don’t use anymore, you can donate it to 911 Only Communications.
Are you a senior citizen who’s looking for a way to find cheap, even free phone? Now you know how to get free phones for senior citizens! This also applies when you’re looking for a free phone for your family, friends, or loved ones. It turns out the government has a program that provides phones to those in need. There are so many providers participating. So, you can choose the best program according to your needs
The competition between providers has created something of a price war, which can only be good news for the consumer. Don’t forget to do some homework first since each program has its own benefits and features. Senior citizens may not be the top consideration for many phone companies or telecom providers but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t need or use phones.