The Lifeline Phone Service. This program has been providing free phone services to low-income residents since 1985. Free phone service, often seems too good to be true. But, it is true! They understand the necessity of being able to -make a call during an emergency, or have access to necessary resources and opportunities. Low-income consumers struggle every day to make ends meet.
A cell phone is a tool needed to change their situation. Of course, a phone is not going to make you rich, but you can use it to make appointments, look for work, and get the assistance needed care for their families. The subsidy program has changed down through the years. The Lifeline Assistance began as a subsidy program to help disadvantaged residents living in isolated rural areas. They gave a special discount on landline services. Now the program has expanded to include cell phones and even internet.
How Lifeline Phone Works
Lifeline assistance works to help low-income working families and the poor have an equal opportunity to phone services. When the poor have access to affordable phone services, it not only has the potential to improve the quality of life but give access to opportunities to find gainful employment, educational and other necessary services. These free phones should not be looked at as a handout, but a hand-up. Many who have received this government benefit, go on to get jobs, return to school, and increase their ability to earn more.
The decades-old program has provided home phone assistance for disadvantaged rural and inner-city residents. As cellular phone gained popularity, the government expanded the program to include cell phones and even smartphones. There is no doubt that our economy is doing better than it has in several years. It is also true that you will always have a segment of the population that is underemployed and underserved.
How Qualifies for a Government Phone
Government phones are available to any consumer that is financially eligible, and proof they are eligible. If you work, your gross yearly income must be at or below 135% Federal Poverty guidelines. Federal rules have been put in place to cut down on fraud and waste in the program. Only one phone is allowed for each family, and proof of income or enrollment in a government assistance program. You may qualify if you receive:
- Food stamps/SNAP
- Medicaid Assistance
- Veteran’s disability
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance;
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance – Section 8
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- The national free school lunch program
This is only a partial list of government programs that make you eligible to get help.
Where to get Lifeline Assistance
If you are eligible to receive free phone services, there are dozens of mobile phone companies approved by the government to sign you up, process and approve your application. Check here for a list of service providers in your state. Please be prepared to present proof of income or participation in a government aid program. Once approved you will receive phone and basic accessories in seven to ten business days. Most services include at least 250 minutes of talk and text, with the option to purchase additional time, if needed.
For more information about eligibility please check out, Do you Qualify?
Are there any Restrictions?
There are a few restrictions everyone must adhere to in order to receive and continue services:
- Lifeline is available only to those who qualify financially
- Only one Lifeline enrollment is permitted per household. One phone per family
- Everyone must provide proof of eligibility to enroll
- Each subscriber must recertify each year to continue their services
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