The Lifeline Assistance program has already offered millions of free phones to qualified consumers across the country. The program was created by the FCC to enable low income Americans to communicate with medical professionals, children, parents, and employers. The program set forth to help low income earners seek out medical services and better employment opportunities.
Since its implementation, these free phones have been dubbed "Obama Phones." The nickname has stuck because of the surge in the program’s popularity during President Obama’s administration. What you may not know is that the Lifeline Assistance program actually began under former President Reagan’s administration. When it was first introduced, the program offered assistance to consumers with landlines to receive low cost phone coverage.
To qualify for an Obama Phone, you don’t have to be an American citizen. In fact, there are several eligibility requirements that you will have to follow in order to apply for a free phone.
Qualifications for Free Phone Eligibility
Only one member per household may apply for and receive a free government cell phone. If someone living with you already receives a cell phone under the program, you will not qualify for a free phone regardless of your income level.
Eligibility is usually given if you participate in a state-funded program such as SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, the Free School Lunch Program, Section 8, TANF, LIHEAP, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance Program. If you take part in any of the listed programs, applying for a free phone is easy and it is almost guaranteed that you will qualify for phone service.
Rules for Obtaining Free Phones
To obtain a free phone, you will be required to fill out an application. On that application, you will need to put down a home address of which the provider can use to send your phone. Providers under the Lifeline Assistance program are not able to ship out free phones to post office boxes. If you are homeless, you should reach out to the provider and ask if there are plans available to you under the program.
Qualifying Based on Income
Even if you do not participate in a state-funded program, you may qualify to receive a free government phone if your yearly income is lower than average. The Lifeline Assistance program allows for you to earn up to 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in order to qualify for their free phones. States that require you to earn 135 percent of the poverty level include Florida, Michigan, Kansas, Arizona, Ohio, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Nevada, and Texas. The following states require that consumers earn below 150 percent of the federal poverty level: Nevada, Vermont, and California.
Qualifying for a free phone based on your income is typically more difficult than if you participated in an assistance program. You will be asked to provide the company with a great deal more information if applying based on your income alone.
If you qualify to receive a free phone under the Lifeline Assistance program, you will be able to choose the plan of which you will participate. Plans offered by the providers may include 250 or more standard airtime minutes in addition to text messaging services.
You may be charged a fee of between $45 and $75 if you wish to obtain a smartphone under one of the providers. However, the services offered by the providers will still be the same.
With many providers, you will have the ability to purchase additional minutes if you desire. In addition, you can also purchase prepaid talk cards through retailers like CVS, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Dollar General, Kmart, Radio Shack, and Wal-Mart. Referring friends or family members who do not live with you may qualify you to receive referral bonuses.
Getting a free phone through the government assistance program is not hard, but you will have to provide the company with a great deal of information. The application process can be made shorter for you if you already participate in a government assistance program.
Eligibility requirements can vary from state to state and because of this, you should visit the provider’s website to see if you meet the income guidelines. The Lifeline Assistance program has already provided millions of cell phones to needy Americans all over the country. If you can qualify to get a free Obama phone, you should fill out an application.
If you have a cell phone that you wish to use under the program, you should select a provider that has a Bring Your Own Phone program. This will allow you to utilize your already owned smartphone or basic device to get free talk and texting minutes.
Over 20 million American residents have already signed up for free government cell phones. Follow the guidelines to determine whether or not you qualify. If you find that you meet the guidelines, locate a provider and fill out an application to receive your free phone in the mail.