If you’re a US citizen that is currently living with a very low income or participating in federal assistance programs like Medicaid or Food Stamps, you may qualify to receive a free cell phone courtesy of the Lifeline Across America program. This federal government initiative was established to ensure that every adult across the nation has access to their own phone, regardless of their financial means.
Let’s take a closer look at the Lifeline program including how it works, who’s eligible to receive this great subsidy and how to apply.
How the Lifeline Across America Program Works
As mentioned above, the Lifeline Across America program is intended to help those who are of lesser financial means by subsidizing the cost of telephone service. As you can well imagine, it can be incredibly challenging to look for work or manage a family’s affairs without having a phone. It is clearly in the government’s best interests to lend a hand so that people have an opportunity to improve their lives and get off of social support programs, which is why this program is funded with hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The way that Lifeline works is pretty straight forward: If an individual qualifies for subsidized wired or cell phone service (more on that below) they will receive a subsidy from the federal government each month. There are also subsidies for activation or setup costs; this means that many individuals can get away with paying nothing to get a new cell phone.
Are you Eligible for Lifeline?
According to federal government guidelines for Lifeline Across America eligibility (available at http://www.lifeline.gov/lifeline_Consumers.html), to qualify for a free cell phone an individual must be:
- Living with an income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty level (currently $31,118 for a family of four), or
- Participating in a federal assistance program like Medicaid, Food Stamps or TANF
If you aren’t participating in a federal assistance program you might still qualify for Lifeline. It’s best to consult the eligibility website listed above to see all of the different ways that there is to qualify for the program.
How to Apply for Lifeline
To find out more about the Lifeline Across America program or to apply, call the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) toll free at 1-888-641-8722 or visit your local cell phone provider. All of the major providers know of Lifeline and should be able to assist you with getting registered to the program and getting your subsidy set up.
Hopefully this post will help those who are in need of phone service but can’t afford it. Good luck!