Is It Possible to Get a Free Phone and Free Service?
If you have heard about people getting free phones and free cell phone service, you probably want to know more about such programs. It’s true. The Federal Government runs a program that can provide free or low-cost phone service: the Lifeline program. Let’s learn the basics: what it is, how people qualify, why the government offers the service, how it helps, and who it benefits.
What is Lifeline?
The Lifeline program is a government benefit program that offers FREE cell phone service to eligible customers in Oklahoma and other states. It lowers the cost of basic phone service. When you get a Lifeline phone through a Lifeline provider like Assist Wireless, you get a free phone and free phone service. If you qualify, you get one phone and one connection per household. That’s one of the most basic rules of the Lifeline program. Lifeline is designed as a free cell phone service with government program backing for individuals and families with low incomes or who are already on government assistance of some kind. With Lifeline:
- You get free cell phone service with government program sponsorship through your local provider
- You must qualify based on income or current government assistance status
- You get one phone service connection per household
- You can get a Smartphone or standard cell phone
How Do People Qualify for the Lifeline Program?
There are different ways to qualify for Lifeline. As long as you meet one of the qualifications below, you may be eligible for the Lifeline Program if you have…
- Household income of 135 percent of the federal or (your) state poverty level
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) benefits
- Medicaid benefits
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veteran’s Pension and Survivors benefits
- Tribal Indian Reservation Food Distribution Program benefits
- Tribal Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Tribal Head Start Program and meet its income standards
Why Does the Government Run a Program Called Lifeline Assistance?
The Federal Government began the Lifeline program in 1984 to help out low-income families and individuals who couldn’t afford basic phone service. The goal of the program has always been to provide phones and phone service to needy people. The philosophy behind Lifeline is that a telephone is a core necessity of life, just like food, housing, and education. Phones are necessary for conducting everyday affairs like paying bills, applying for jobs, phoning a doctor’s office, and enrolling in school. The government started the program and continues to run it in order to help needy people improve their lives.
How Does Lifeline Help Low-Income Individuals and Families?
If you or your family are already in a tight financial spot due to extended unemployment, disability, or other extenuating circumstances, Lifeline can help you. The way the program assists individuals and families is through free phone service. By removing the expense of phone service from your monthly budget, Lifeline frees up some funds that can be put to another use. Look at it from a budgeting perspective: if you don’t have to spend money on phone service, then you’ll have that much more to spend on essentials like groceries, clothing, utilities, and school supplies.
Many families who use Lifeline would have no other way of obtaining a basic phone service plan without the program. Already, millions of low-income Americans in Oklahoma and elsewhere have received assistance from the program, which was completely updated and expanded in 2016 so that more people could qualify and become approved faster. In 2018, a nationwide rapid verification system was put in place so people could apply online.
More than 10 million people in the U.S. are on the Lifeline program through their local carriers. Those who do qualify get free phone service, unlike the original program back in the 1980s that only offered discounts on landline phone service. When the program was expanded in 2016 and exploded in popularity, millions more became eligible and found out about Lifeline. One of the main reasons for the massive increase in the number of subscribers was the lower cost of cell phones. When Lifeline only applied to landline phones, not as many people signed up.
Who Benefits from the Lifeline Program?
People who benefit from the Lifeline program are individuals who are on Food Stamps/SNAP, other state or Tribal assistance programs, and/or have incomes lower than 135 percent of the federal or state poverty level. It’s clear that people who benefit from Lifeline are people who need phone service to conduct their daily lives but can’t afford to pay for it without some financial help from a special program.
The Lifeline program has helped tens of millions of people who need phone service but can’t afford it. Assist Wireless is the top provider in Oklahoma, with over 29 retail locations currently offering assistance to help you get connected. Stop by an Assist Wireless location today to see if you are eligible. If so, you can get your phone quickly and your service turned on right away.