Today, people can get the most benefit from cell phones. They are not only used to stay connected with friends and family. They also help with education, work, entertainment, and emergency purposes. With advanced and modern cell phones, we can browse the internet to get educated and updated with opportunities or events around them. However, not everyone could afford cell phones, especially those with low income. Thus, the government provides free cell phones through the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program. It ensures everyone with financial difficulties has access to communication services and technology. So, if you want to know about the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program and how to get a free cell phone from the government, keep reading.
What Is The Federal Lifeline Assistance Program?
Formed in 1985, the Federal Lifeline Assistance provides equal access to technology for all Americans. And it’s specifically for low-income families that may not be able to afford a cell phone device or plan. The program provides a free cell phone or discounted phone service with free monthly minutes, texting, and data for those who eligible. It’s one of the best ways to save on mobile service costs for those in need.
The government collaborates with some communication companies to provide a free cell phone. You can find Lifeline cell phone service providers in forty-nine states, Washington D.C, and Puerto Rico. Different providers may have different offers. Some offer free cell phones or smartphones, unlimited text messages, or limited data. If your provider is AT&T, check out our exclusive article on the Lifeline Discount and AT&T Wireless Program.
Usually, you won’t know what kind of phone you can get until your approval process is done. To take part in Lifeline, you need to meet some criteria. Your income should be below (or at most) 135% of poverty guidelines or participating in one of the federal government programs. If you’re eligible, you can check your own state’s providers and specific qualification criteria. The eligibility and programs may vary in each area.
Who’s qualified for Lifeline Assistance Program?
Not every citizen is qualified for a free cell phone from the government. Those who may qualify are people with low income. It’s one of the eligibility criteria for participating in Lifeline. Your household has to have an income below (or at most) 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.
You’re also eligible if you or someone in your household participates in one of the following programs:
Medicaid is a government program that gives free medical services for low-income. If you or someone in your household is a member of this program, you’re eligible for a free cell phone from the government. You need to prove your membership by providing documents or membership.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP)
To help eligible American residents with food and finances, the government provides SNAP. If you or your loved ones participating in this program, you are also eligible for a free cell phone from the government.
Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
If you’re a member of the Public Housing Assistance Program, it’s one of the ways on how to get a free cell phone from the government. You need to provide an award letter from the public housing agency and public house assistance leasing agreement. These documents are needed to prove your active membership.
Veteran’s Pension and Survivors Benefit
Veteran’s Pension and Survivors Benefit is a federal program that aims at providing financial assistance to the deceased spouse and children of military veterans in America. You may be eligible for a free cell phone from the government through this application.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
This program is for people who are disabled, elderly, orphans, and extremely poor with essential like food, clothes, and shelter. If you’re a member of this program, you’re also eligible for a free cell phone from the government.
You can qualify for Lifeline if you live on Tribal lands. Or if you or someone in your household participates in any of the federal assistance programs listed above. These include the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Head Start, The latter is for a household that meets the income qualifying standard). You’ll get an extra 25 USD discounted on your monthly bill for a total Lifeline discount of up to 34.25 USD.
If you want to apply for a fee cell phone, you need to present a certificate or documents. Each should have the program’s name on it, plus the applicant’s data. This includes name, address, telephone number, and date of issue.
Please note that you’re only allowed to get one Lifeline per household, not per person. And you’re entitled to phone or internet (not both) Lifeline free or discount cell phones/smartphone plan. For more information, you can check Lifeline Support.
How to Apply For Lifeline Assistance
The answer to “how to get a free cell phone from the government” is pretty simple. You can apply for Lifeline and follow these easy steps:
Check Your Eligibility
The first thing you need to do is to check your eligibility. You’re automatically eligible for a free phone if your household income is below (or at most) 35 % of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Please note that this depends on which state you’re living. You’re also eligible if you or someone in your household participating in a government assistance program. These include Food Stamps or Medicaid.
Find Out and Select Lifeline Cell Phone Providers
After you check your eligibility, you can do some research to find out more about each of the participating cell phone providers in your area. It may not show every cell phone provider near you, and a company may still have Lifeline service even if it’s not on this list. You can ask the service provider if they provide Lifeline service in your area. Programs, phone choices, plans, and requirements may vary. You should look at them all carefully to get the best possible cell phone and service.
Apply for the Lifeline Assistance Program
Once you’ve selected which cell phone provider is right for you, you can apply right away. If you can, applying online probably the easiest and fastest way. It allows you to upload any required documentation easily, and you don’t have to spend time waiting if you’re applying by phone. You can also apply by mailing the application form and required documents.
Lifeline may require additional information before approving or denying your application. Your Lifeline service provider will contact you and help to get you approved if there any complications. And they will let you know the result after you apply. If you’re applying online, you may receive automatic approval.
You can apply Lifeline in one of three ways:
- Apply online at the Lifeline National Verifier application system. Please note that California, Oregon, and Texas residents can’t apply online. These states are not yet participating in the National Verifier database.
- You can print the application form (in English or Spanish). Complete the form and mail it along with your proof of eligibility to the following address:
Lifeline Support Center
- P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
- Third, you can contact the phone or internet provider you’d like to use in your states. Ask them if they take part in the Lifeline program. They can help you apply if they’re participating in the program.
- Lifeline only provides one wireless or landline phone account per household;
- If separate households are sharing the same address, each household is eligible for Lifeline. This includes homeless shelters and residents of nursing homes;
- Lifeline service providers have varying approval processes and can take several days to several weeks;
- If you qualify by participating in one of the government assistance programs, make sure you select the option instead of low income.
Ways You Can Lose Your Eligibility for Free Cell Phone from The Government
Now you know how to get a free cell phone from the government, you also need to know that you can lose your eligibility if you:
Stop Participating in the Federal Government Program
When you stop participating in any federal government program, it means that you’re no longer in need and don’t need government assistance. And this will make you lose your free cell phone from the government.
Not Active for More Than Two Months
To keep your free cell phone, you need to use and keep it active. If it hasn’t been active for more than two months, your account will be terminated by the providers.
Failure to Recertify
You must complete annual recertification by providing your active member federal assistance program document. Failure to complete the recertification will make you lose your eligibility for a free cell phone from the government.
Acquiring More Than One Cell Phone
The government has strict rules about one free cell phone in one household and per person. Your personal information is left on the database when you apply for a cell phone. Any attempt to cheat and applying for a second phone is not allowed and will make you lose your free cell phone.
Lifeline Cell Phones Service Providers
There are hundreds of regional and national cell phone providers who take part in Lifeline. You can check cell phone providers in your area and find out if their plans meet your need. Here are some of the best free cell phone providers:
As one of the best free cell phone providers in the USA, Access Wireless provides services in more than 30 states. These include Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota. You can check your eligibility by contacting their customer service number at 1-888-900-5899 or their website. If you’re eligible for Lifeline, you’ll get a free cell phone, text messages, and 3GB data. Plus, no monthly bills, no long terms contracts, and no additional or hidden fees. The number of free texts, minutes, and data vary in every state.
Assurance Wireless provides free government cell phones for low-income families. They give a free basic cell phone or smartphone with free 350 minutes talk, unlimited texts, and a 3GB data plan. Plus, you’ll get free voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, and 911 access. For California residents, they will get a free Android smartphone with unlimited minutes and texts, plus 4GB data every month.
GCI (General Communications) Inc.
Formerly known as Alaska DigiTel, GCI Inc provides free cell phones in Alaska. Or, if you’re participating in one of the federal assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. You’ll get a free cell phone, unlimited nationwide texting, 500 minutes calls across the U.S and 1GB data with only 1 USD per month.
Life Wireless provides a top-notch free government cell phone services, and it’s recommended by many. Their services include 1,000 free monthly minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB data. Plus, you’ll get a handset with all the features needed, including caller ID, call forwarding, no roaming charge, and free domestic calls.
Qlink Wireless is one of the major cell phone providers that give free cell phones from the government in more than 30 states. These include Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, and Michigan. For those who qualified, they will get a free phone, unlimited text, 1000 minutes monthly talk time, plus 1GB data. See some of the best phones Qlink offers here.
SafeLink is the oldest, largest, and best known of the company that offers free government cell phones in 40 states, including the top 10 best touch screen government phones in 2020. For those who qualify, you’ll get a free phone with unlimited texts, 350 minutes talk time, plus 500 MB data. For California residents, you’ll get a free Android phone with unlimited texts and minutes, and 500 MB of data.
The government understands that it’s important to provide free cell phones for those less fortunate to stay connected and get the most benefits from technology. Thus, they formed the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program in 1985. And they collaborated with cell phone providers in forty-nine states, Washington D.C, and Puerto Rico to give free cell phones.
To qualify for this program, you should meet some requirements. You can check your eligibility and cell phone providers who take part in your area before applying for the program. For the best benefit, you should choose the provider carefully to suit your need. By reading this article, we hope you’ve figured out how to get a free cell phone from the government.