What Are Free Government Cell Phones?

In a day when communication is more important than ever before, many low-income individuals and families find it difficult to keep up with the payments on their monthly telephone plans. In order to relieve these trying circumstances, the government has instituted a new program, “Life Line Across America,” to make up the difference for qualified individuals who are unable to meet their phone service payments. In addition to land line service, cell phone service is also included in this program. If your income level and living situation makes you eligible for this program, participation could give you much-needed assistance to free up finances for more important purposes.

How the Program Works

Life Line is not an independent service, but rather a program that works with your existing phone service provider to lower your payments. Over 1,500 phone companies currently partner with the program, so if your service is through a major carrier, the chances are very good that you can benefit without changing service providers. Upon approval of your application (available from your provider), you will receive a discount on your monthly phone bill. The specific discount amounts available vary from state to state. A list of the program’s benefits offered in your particular state can be found on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s website.

Eligibility Requirements

Because the program is run by each state’s government, the income levels and other variables that affect eligibility are specific to each state. That being said, in general the states’ policies are similar to the federal policy. The federal policy states that eligibility for participation in Life Line Across America is as follows:

●      Income level must total less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or:

●      The individual or family must already be a member of a different federal assistance program, including Medicaid, section 8, LIHEAP, or TANF.

The poverty guidelines in Hawaii and Alaska differ from those in the lower 48 states and Washington, D.C., so make special note of this fact if you live in one of those states.

To see the exact eligibility requirements for your state’s Life Line program, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company’s website.

Additional Considerations

If you need to start phone service under the Life Line program, you may be able to avoid the deposit fee that many providers require from customers with questionable credit by excluding long distance from your phone service. If your current service carrier is not a participant in the program, you can find a list of local participating carriers on your state’s public utility commission’s website.

Telephone service is nearly indispensable in today’s society, but high costs often make it a heavy burden for individuals and families that are already struggling with financial difficulties. If you have a low income level or already benefit from a federal assistance program, a simple application process could get you much-needed help in the form of monthly discounts offered through the Life Line Across America program.

Is the Free Government Cell Phone Program at Risk?

Some people believe that free government cell phones should be a thing of the past.  Others go to the opposite extreme, believing that if certain disadvantaged segments of the population are able to get a free government cell phone, so should they!  In reality, the free government cell phone program is a tightly monitored one, with strict regulations and policies that must be followed.  Let’s take a look at just what the free government cell phone program is, who it affects, and why it is so important.

Who Qualifies for a Free Government Cell Phone?

If you are on any type of government assistance, or if you cannot afford a cell phone plan on your own, then you may be eligible for a free government cell phone.  Many of the recipients of these simple, subsidized phones are elderly and cannot afford the monthly cost of an expensive premium cellular plan.  Others are unemployed, or have another valid, verifiable reason for needing a free government cell phone and/or a simple cell phone plan at a reduced rate.

What Kind of Phones do Recipients Receive?

If you think that the government is handing out brand new Droids and iPhones, think again!  Most of the phones these people receive are refurbished, donated phones that simply function as a means of communication.  For people in need, these simple phones make a real difference.

Some people get SafeLink phones from TracFone.  These are simple phones as well, meant to be used for necessary conversations.  People can buy additional minutes, and their loved ones can give them the gift of additional minutes, as well.

Why is the Government’s Lifeline Service So Important?

Imagine being vulnerable, with no way to communicate with the outside world.  Many physically disabled people who rely on humanitarian aid from the government and private charities would be completely shut off from the outside world if not for the Lifeline service, which is commonly referred to as the free government cell phone service.

Just what is Lifeline, and how can you find out if you qualify for a free government cell phone or a cell phone plan at a reduced rate?

This service provides a handset to those who do not have one, often at a deep discount, or free of charge.  It also provides a low-cost phone service for those who are living at or below the poverty line.  Each state is different, so in order to find out if you qualify, you must first visit the Lifeline website.  After that, you need to verify that you do indeed qualify, by following the “consumers” link on the main lifeline website.  If Lifeline or Safelink are available in your area and you qualify, then signing up is easy.

Could Recent Budget Cuts Cause Difficulty for Lifeline Recipients?

No doubt about it, recent government budget cuts have caused officials to take a hard look at a variety of public assistance programs.  It remains to be seen whether the free government cell phone program will be affected by recent budget cuts and the recent reduction in the nation’s credit rating.

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