Before we talk about free cell phone for disabled on Social Security, let’s take a look at the disability issues in the US first. According to the 2018 Community Survey, over 40 million Americans are living with a disability. It generally falls into 6 main categories. Namely difficulty with vision, hearing, walking, movement, perception, and independent living.
Another survey revealed that 6% of disabled Americans fall into the 18 to 34 age range, while almost half (49.8%) are over 75 years old. They mainly have one thing in common, difficulty walking and/or independent living. This obviously causes another problem, how to earn a living.
Being unable to move easily hampers employment opportunities. According to the Census Bureau, people living with a disability earn on average 30 percent less than their able-bodied counterparts. As a result, the government initiated a program under the Social Security Administration. It’s called the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disabilities Insurance or OASDI for short. Specifically, for the disabled, OASDI is an insurance program funded by federal taxes. It supplements a disabled person’s income.
Another program, SSD/SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) pays monthly with a certain amount based on past earnings. Each person receives either temporary or permanent payments depending on their level of disability. The average amount received is 1171 USD. Which on the surface seems adequate but many are still finding it hard to cover their monthly living expenses.
What Program Provides Free Cell Phone for Disabled on Social Security?
Awareness of other social security benefits is crucial for people living with disabilities. For example, free cell phones and reduced cost calling plans. These days a cell phone is essential, but it’s not a cheap service. The government has initiated a social care program that addresses this. One of which is by providing a free or discounted cell phone plus a related calling plan.
Through its Lifeline Assistance program, the Federal government provides help and support. It focuses on the cost of communications for low-income individuals and families as well as the registered disabled. To receive the benefit, however, certain criteria have to be met. Let’s take a look at some of them.
You have the proof that your income level is below the federal poverty index
To qualify, your annual income should not be more than the federal poverty index, which is 135%. Check your state guidelines since there might be a difference in some areas. After that, you will need to provide evidence to support your claim. This can be done online by visiting the official Lifeline website.
You must at least take part in one government program
Being part of an existing government support program is another requirement. There are at least 9 programs that make you eligible for the Lifeline program. Usually, you will need to submit a document to apply for these programs. If you are already taking part in at least one of those programs, you are a step closer to being eligible to receive a free service or free cell phone for disabled on social security.
Rules about Lifeline
Like every government program, some rules apply. So here’s what you need to know about Lifeline.
- It only applies to one person in each household. If other family members or people living at the same address are receiving any form of income support, they cannot also be a part of the Lifeline program. This is regardless of whether they contribute to the income or expenses of the household.
- Use it. When you are eligible to get the free cell phone for disabled on social security or associated calling plan, you have to use it. During 30 days, the service must be used at least once. Failure to do so will result in the service being discontinued.
- Note the annual renewal or reconfirmation. Every year Lifeline will check to see that you’re still qualified to be a part of the program. If so, you will get a notification from the company that you have 60 days to renew or reconfirm the service. If you don’t, you will lose it.
- Be honest. You have to give correct and accurate information when applying to be a part of the Lifeline program. You’re obliged to inform your telecoms provider if you change your current address. Or if you are no longer eligible, you must update your status. The benefit will be stopped and criminal charges may result in providing false or misleading information.
- Do not give to another person. Your Lifeline application is under your name, so it is not allowed to give the facility to another person.
How to Apply for the Lifeline Program?
Now you know what Lifeline is. Do you think you qualify for the program? If you feel you could benefit from being a part of the program there are three simple steps to move things forward.
- Apply. To receive the Lifeline free or discounted program, you can apply online. You can find the application on the Lifeline official website. To apply for the Lifeline program, first, you need to verify yourself. You can do the verification online. It’s available on the Lifeline website where you’ll be directed to the National Verifier.
- Send your application to the Lifeline Support Center. Once you are verified, you can print your application both in English or Spanish. Then send the printed application to Lifeline Support Center at the following address: P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742
- Find a company near you. If you already have a telecoms service provider you can ask them if they support the Lifeline program. If they don’t, you need to find a company near you that does. The search is relatively easy as details of participating providers are available online on the Lifeline site.
- Once you submit the application, a decision on your eligibility will be made immediately. If you apply online, you will get the approval or rejection within minutes. Then you can choose a cell phone or internet company that suits your needs to enroll in the program. The process is doable by visiting the company, contacting by phone, or online.
About the Phone, You Will Get from Lifeline
It can certainly be a huge help for a person living with a disability to get a free cell phone. But there may be some question as to exactly what type of phone will be provided as part of the Lifeline program. Mostly, the type of phone you get from Lifeline Assistance depends on the provider itself. Most people get a basic smartphone that has functionality for texting, calling, browsing, and using a few applications. Yes, it is possible to send pictures with a free government phone but usually only as an attachment to a text message. It is also possible to access social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but you will need an enhanced plan for that. iPhone 4 or any Android device are generally the types of phones provided by the Lifeline providers. These types of phones are enough to meet their needs.
Carriers or Provider that Offer Lifeline Program
It is very important to look for the most suitable provider that meets your needs. For the Lifeline service, most of the providers will provide a monthly service. One provider can give a different rate plan and service level to another. To make it easier to pick the provider that’s best for you, here is a brief overview of five providers and their offering:
Easy Wireless is a carrier available in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Missouri. If you choose this provider, you will get discounted plans along with a free cell phone. The discount applies to one per household where you can choose landline or wireless. There are several plans based on the area.
Oklahoma Tribal Lifeline Plans are available from $1.00 to $29.95.
- $1.00: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 50MB data
- $4.95: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 250MB data
- $17.95: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 1GB data
- $29.95: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 2GB data OR Unlimited minutes of talking and text, 50MB data
Oklahoma Non-Tribal Lifeline Plans are a bit expensive. The plans start from $26.00 to a maximum $54.95
- $26.00: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 50MB data
- $29.95:2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 250MB data
- $42.95: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 1GB data
- $54.95: 2250 minutes of talking, Unlimited text, 2GB data OR Unlimited minutes of talking and text, 50MB data
For the Kentucky area, there is only one Lifeline Plan named Easy KY Lifeline. This plan includes 250 minutes of talk time, 250 texts, and 25MB data. The cost of this plan is free. The same applies to the Missouri area.
Infiniti Mobile is available in seven states. They are Oklahoma, Nevada, Vermont, Maryland, Georgia, Wisconsin, and South Carolina. What Infiniti Mobile offers is quite tempting. This provider gives the customer a free smartphone, monthly data, minutes of talking, plus text & picture messaging.
Monthly mobile data is free and available unlimited. This means you can use email to social media anytime without worry. Since you will have a smartphone, the features can be used anywhere you go.
Are you more texting or a picture messaging person? Infiniti for Lifeline allows you to do both. As a Lifeline user, you will get unlimited text and picture messaging.
It is important to keep up with people. And that’s why Infiniti also offers 3-way calling so you can talk to 2 numbers at the same time. Infiniti Mobile also lets you have free voicemail. So, if you are busy doing other things that you can’t pick up the call, the caller will be directed to your voicemail.
Infiniti Mobile offers this free service including 1GB data, 1000 minutes of talk time, and unlimited texts. By using this provider, you will get the ability to connect to Wi-Fi, nationwide calling, and free 911 calls, too.
The American Assistance is a Lifeline provider that covers most areas in the United State. Although, it plans to expand the territory and to be a full nationwide provider. Just like the other providers, you need to go through an assessment to be American Assistance Lifeline users. After that, you will get a free smartphone that varies from Samsung Galaxy J3,
Apple devices, Motorola/LG/Nokia phones. You can also bring your own phone if you wish. Along with the free phone, you will also get:
1GB monthly data
Unlimited 1000 minutes of talking (domestic only)
Nationwide network coverage
If you want add-ons are also available, starting from $0.99 for 100 minutes to $17.49 for 1000 minutes of talking. For data add-ons, the pricing starts from $4.49 for 100MB to $44.99 for 5GB. These add-ons only last within 30 days.
You must be familiar with this provider. Yes, it is that AT&T. With the best network coverage in the country, AT&T covers 20 states. This provider offers a discount on home phone or internet but if you wish to apply for the Lifeline discount, you must be an existing AT&T customer. If you meet eligibility criteria and live in the selected location, then you can subscribe to the AT&T Lifeline plan. This plan gives you a Lifeline Discount and free phone programs. What can you get from this provider? For a phone bill in a household, you can get an average of $7.25. For the internet bill in a household, you can get a $9.25 discount. This number is effective since January 2019 by the federal government.
How do you apply? It will differ depending on where in the country you live, for example:
- If you live in California, then call 800.288.2020 on weekdays from 6 am to 6 pm Pacific Time.
- You live in Texas, you can apply online or call 866.454.8387
- If you live outside of both areas, you can apply online via the National Verifier. Once your application is approved, you should call 855.301.0355. Please make the calls on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Time to check whether there is an offering in your location.
- If you live in Illinois and Ohio, you can apply for installation credit also. You can ask for further information by phone.
- If you are 65 years old or older, you may receive more discounts. Read more about this on Cheapest Cell Phone Plans for Seniors.
- If you live in Minnesota, your discount depends on your income and the service is only available for landline home service.
As you can see by the name, this provider is only available for people based in the state of Alaska. For the Lifeline Assistance program, they offer:
- Unlimited local calls or calls to or from within TelAlaska Network
- Free cell phone, VeryKool i133, or else that is equivalent
- 400 Long Distance minutes of talking for in or out state calling
- Unlimited text for nationwide usage
If you plan to choose this company, please note that you can’t use the Lifeline service outside the TelAlaska Cellular Network. If so, there’s a roaming fee which is 25₵ per minute. Also, if your Long Distance is more than 400 minutes per month, you will be charged 25₵ per minute, too. The allotment for this provider counts from 24th to the 23rd the next month. When applying to TelAlaska, you need to scan and send the complete application in three ways. First, you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Second, fax to 907.550.1675. Lastly, mail to TelAlaska, 201 E.56th Avenue. Anchorage, AK.
People living with disabilities have often faced a multitude of challenges not encountered by the able-bodied. Their disability can make mobility or even move around in general difficult. Which in turn hinders their ability to work, earn a living, and budget accordingly. That’s why getting help such as a free cell phone for disabled on social security is such a benefit.
This facility can help the disabled to manage their lives given that they potentially earn less. Maybe they can use it to search for a job or at least keep in touch with sending families and friends. By using Lifeline Assistance, a person can choose which company best suits best their particular needs and one that is available in their location. All you need to do is go through the eligibility process. Once it is done, the other steps are way easier.
However, if you don’t qualify for this program, there are other ways to save money in terms of communication needs. You may search and get a “free” cell phone without a contract if you don’t have a handset already. Or, find the cheapest provider or carrier you can in your area.
Whichever you choose, there is a way to get you a good plan without having to spend the extra hundreds of dollars. Even with disabilities, you can get all the benefits offered by the best companies. Browse through our articles to find your best solution.