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Posted on August 18, 2020

Do you want to see if you are eligible for a free Lifeline phone in Tulsa? Read our complete guide to see if you qualify.

The Lifeline phone service was developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more than thirty years ago. Changes have taken place throughout the years to improve on the service, however, the idea behind it remains the same. The Lifeline service was designed to make communication services more affordable for low-income families and individuals who are recipients of approved government assistance programs. Lifeline provides those who qualify with either a free or heavily discounted phone service. This service is important because it allows families to remain connected with family and friends, employers, and contact emergency and medical services.

How It Works

As described by the FCC, the Lifeline service is designed to provide families with either a discounted or free communications service. This service can be in the form of a wireline or wireless service, but it cannot be both. Lifeline also provides low-income families with broadband internet service, but again, it can only be either the phone or the internet, and not both at one address.

Specific eligibility criteria have been developed, which you can review before you start the application process. There are two ways in which a household can become eligible for the service. The first is if a household’s income is at or below 135% of the poverty guidelines set by the state and/or federal government. The second is to be the recipient of any of the approved government assistance programs.

History

The program was developed in 1985 and provided a landline for all low-income families. It was determined then that all families should have access to communication services in order to connect with other family members, employers, and medical and emergency services. Lifeline is offered in every state, territory, and Tribal land.

By 1996, the FCC began to offer households who qualify either a landline or cell phone service in order to keep up with the changing times. In 2016, the FCC adopted the Lifeline Modernization Order, which now includes broadband access as well.

Tulsa Lifeline Service and Benefits

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is a public utility division that manages the Lifeline Program (in Oklahoma) as well as the Link Up America program (in Oklahoma). All of the households or individuals that qualify can receive a discounted or free cell phone (depending on plan eligibility and enrollment) and an additional discount on the phone bill. The Link Up America program offers a waiver of installation charges.

Oklahoma offers basic and Tribal programs. The Tribal Lifeline program is for individuals living on current or former Tribal lands. This is because, in Oklahoma, 64 of the 77 counties are former Tribal lands.

Tribal Lifeline Benefits

The Tribal Lifeline and Link Up benefits were created following a study that was conducted by the FCC in the year 2000. The study found that as much as 40% of families who lived on a reservation were without phone service in their homes. Those who qualify for the service may receive additional benefits of up to $25 a month for basic phone service and 100% up to $100 of an installation fee covered.

Tribal Services Included

Within these benefits, the following services are covered:

  • Nationwide Calling
  • Unlimited Text Messaging
  • Voicemail
  • Caller ID
  • No Charge for Domestic Long Distance
  • Free 911

Eligibility

Two criteria determine eligibility for the program:

  1. Receive assistance from an approved government assistance program such as:
    1. SNAP/Food Stamps
    2. Medicaid
    3. Supplementary Security Insurance (SSI)
    4. Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    5. Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
    6. Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
    7. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
    8. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
    9. Tribal Head Start  
  2. A household income that is at or below 135% of the poverty line. (The poverty line can vary based on state location.)

Application

The Lifeline program application is straightforward and can be completed online at assistwireless.com for your convenience. Assist Wireless will walk with you every step of the way to ensure that if you meet eligibility requirements, you receive a benefit that best fits your household needs. As the No. 1 Oklahoma Lifeline provider, we are here to assist you with any benefit and service questions you may have.

Documentation

Part of the application process is providing documentation to prove your eligibility. Apart from the paperwork that proves you are a recipient of a government-run program or fall within the 135% poverty line, you must also provide documentation that shows your identity and proof of your address.

Proof of Identity Documentation:

  • Driver’s license or Passport (unexpired)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
  • Permanent resident or resident alien card (unexpired)
  • Weapons Permit (unexpired)
  • Military Discharge documentation
  • U.S. government, military, state, or Tribal issued ID (unexpired)
  • Statement of benefits from a qualifying program (that includes proof of identity)
  • Government assistance program document (that includes proof of identity)
  • Unemployment or worker’s compensation statement of benefits

Proof of Address:

  • Driver’s License, Government, State, or Tribal Issued ID (unexpired)
  • Statement of Benefits from a Qualifying Program Which Contains Name and Address
  • Government Assistance Program Documents
  • Utility Bill
  • Current Income Statement, Paycheck Stub, or W2
  • Current Mortgage or Lease Statement
  • Retirement/Pension Statement of Benefits
  • Unemployment/Workers’ Compensation Statement of Benefits

Please note: All address proof documents must contain your full name, the address matching your application, and be recently dated.

Remember, you don’t need to provide all of the listed documents, but rather the one that you have available for each of the points to ensure that you provide adequate proof of who you are and your current address. This is very important because the benefit applies to a household at a time, rather than to an individual.

While you go through the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to Assist Wireless as the foremost expert and provider of the Lifeline program. Depending on your specific situation, you may be eligible for a free government phone as part of the free Lifeline service whether you receive the basic or the enhanced package.