How to Get a Free Cell Phone for Low Income Adults and Seniors

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Low Income Individuals of Any Adult Age Can Get A Free Cell Phone

It is easy to obtain a free cell phone or landline phone if you have limited income whether you are a senior citizen or a young adult. There is a government program in place that gives qualified applicants a completely free landline or cell phone that includes internet access and 250 free call minutes per month (you can buy more).

You can apply for it online or by phone and the phone arrives by mail. The free cell phone is a very nice smart phone and is delivered to you ready to be activated. The smart phone comes with 250 minutes free and you have the option to purchase additional minutes if they are needed. You can use the phones to go online, send text messages, and of course, make calls. The program that provides this valuable freebie is called Federal Lifeline Assistance. With a usual cell phone bill for a basic service plan at around $50.00 per month or higher, this constitutes a savings of around $600.00 per year.

This program was created to give limited income people in any adult age bracket access to a cell phone and internet. The need for connectivity in today’s society is nationally recognized to get employment, health care, for emergencies, social services and family communication. Anyone trying to subsist on 135% or less of the federal poverty guidelines is entitled to the benefit of Lifeline access.

Some History about The Lifeline Free Phone Program

Over 15 million limited income households use the Lifeline phone program every day. The Lifeline program started out decades ago during the Reagan Administration and originally provided a discounted or free landline to low income applicants and seniors. Once cell phones became the communications norm, the FCC during the Bush Administration realized the changing usage patters and that lead to mobile devices and internet access being included with their offerings. The FCC then opened the program to private communications companies, giving users a choice of carriers nationwide. The government foots the monthly bill and the cell phone companies provide the free smart phones. In the end, the users are furnished with a completely free cell phone complete with service and data.

A Few Tips About The Lifeline Program

It is important to know that the federal landline benefit is capped at $9.25 a month, but some states go a few dollars higher. The cell phones on the other hand are truly free.

Here are some tips concerning the use of the lifeline phone service:

  • The user will be the one to activate the phone when it arrives. The phone comes in a small box with easy to follow directions on how to activate the new phone.
  • The phone comes with a charger so you do not need to purchase additional accessories.
  • One call per month is necessary to keep the service active.
  • Customer service has long waits sometimes and the connections to the agents suffer from sporadic call drops.
  • Carriers can be switched at any time.
  • A lost or stolen phone can be replaced.
  • The phone simply stops connecting after 250 minutes every month unless more minutes are purchased.

How To Qualify For A Free Cell Phone or Landline With Service

You can get a Lifeline cell or home phone here. You can also apply via phone at the Lifeline support center: (800) 234-9473.

To qualify, households are either beneficiaries of certain federal assistance programs like the food stamp program (SNAP), Medicaid or Head Start and others, or their income cannot exceed the Federal poverty guidelines by 135%. The Federal poverty guidelines, updated for 2018 are as follows:

 

Go to the FederalPovertyLevelCalculator.com to use the handy program.

2019 Poverty Guidelines (In Annual Income)

Persons in family/household

48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia

1$12,490
216,910
321,330
425,750
530,170
634,590
739,010
843,430
For Each Additional Member Add$4,420

Persons in family/household

Alaska

Hawaii

1$15,600$14,380
221,13019,460
326,66024,540
432,19029,620
537,72034,700
643,25039,720
748,78044,860
854,31049,940
For Each Additional Member Add$5,530$5,080

If you need additional assistance, get help by applying through the same local social service agencies or community outreach programs that may have helped you with obtaining Medicare Benefits like Medicare Extra Help or the Medicare Savings program. Some Medicare Advantage or HMO plans have an in-house  social services department that will handle the application for their members. You can also apply directly just by showing proof of eligible income at the Lifeline website.


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