Do you Qualify for a Free Government Phone?

By | December 14, 2013

Are you Eligible for a free cell phone?   Lifeline assistance works to help low-income working families and the poor have an equal opportunity to phone services.   These phones make the difference between being isolated and being able to connect with friends and loved ones.  Disadvantaged families are qualified to receive help with free phone service.   With the phone plan, you receive a cell phone and monthly minutes or landline service.   You must produce certain documents to be eligible for a free cell phone.   There have been problems in the program with fraud and abuse.

Today if you want a free government phone, you will have to prove eligibility.  Lifeline eligibility can be proved, by providing documentation of your financial status, or your involvement in a government assistance program.   This helps to make sure only those who eligible receive a phone.   Part of this is because the phone company received a credit for each person they phone providers used the lack of documentation as an opportunity to receive more money from the government.

 Who is Eligible for a Free Cell Phone?

 You may be eligible for a free cell phone when you receive help from:

  • Food Stamps – SNAP
  • Supplemental Security Income – SSI
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance – Section 8
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – TANF
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP
  • The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program

You may also qualify for a government phone if you work and your gross monthly or yearly income is at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

How to Find a Phone Company

Once you have all your paperwork in order,  locate a no-cost phone provider in your state.  Do a little research, because all states do not implement the program in the exact same way.  Some companies charge a small fee, some partially pay for your some service, but most offer totally free phone benefits.  You also what to check online for reviews of the phone provider you are considering getting your phone from.  

There have been some providers that receive many complaints and long waiting times to get help.  Because the phone is free, doesn’t mean you do not deserve great customer service. Many providers use an automated system, that can be very frustrating, when you want to talk to a living, breathing person.  If you are comfortable with the benefits they offer and the minutes they provide, sign up on their website or call to request an application be sent to you. 

What Documents You Need

  • A Statement from the following: Department of Social Services or SNAPS, Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Benefits.
  • A current Federal Tax Return
  • A letter from Unemployment/Workman’s Compensation
  • A payroll statement or current check stubs from your job

If you do not have the proof needed to apply, contact the agency the government assistance agency for the necessary documentation the same day if you go in person.  Contact the phone provider you are applying with, to find out exactly what documentation you need.   In some cases, you can submit online, or go into a provider store.   When you are approved, you will receive an email, or letter that you are eligible to receive a free government cell phone.  If all your documentation is in order, you should receive a phone in 7 – 10 business days.

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