How Do I Qualify for a Free Government Cell Phone?
If you have low income, or you have Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, Section 8, Energy Assistance, or the School Lunch Program, then you may qualify.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Government launched the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program in the 1980s. The goal was to help low-income Americans to stay connected. Now, several approved companies provide free government cell phones with 250 minutes of free talk time to low-income families so that they can keep in touch with life-savers like emergency services, medical services, schools and libraries. With more than eight million people participating in this program, it seems to be one of the most successful government programs ever. However, there are certain criteria to be eligible for this program.
You need to fulfill all those criteria to get a free cell phone with free monthly minutes from the government. With the economy going down every year, more people are being eligible for this program. Not everyone in the United States will qualify for Lifeline and get a free phone, but if you cannot afford your bills or you need financial assistance, you are most likely qualified.
How do you know if you can get a free cell phone with up to 250 free monthly minutes and texting every month? You can either enter your information in the top-right box called “Lifeline Enrollment” and click on the button titled “Get Your Free Phone” now, or you can continue reading this helpful guide about Lifeline qualifications. If you are qualified for Lifeline, then you will never pay for the phone or the free service.
The criteria for Lifeline may vary a little depending on the state you live in. The private cell phone companies that are approved to provide Lifeline are the ones who verify your personal information. They are also the ones who send out the free phones and can manage your Lifeline account. However, Lifeline is always a government-regulated program, so the eligibility requirements don’t differ that much from state to state.
Please note that even though there aren’t many differences to qualify in each state, your state may have subtly different requirements than others. However, these differences are usually small. Here’s one example: if you currently participate in a government assistance program such as Food Stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, SSI, Section 8, and most other government programs, then you qualify in all states. Some states, however, may allow you to qualify in state-specific government assistance programs.
If you do not participate in a government assistance program, you may qualify based on your low income status; however, income level guidelines differ for each state. Some states allow you to make up to 135% of the current Federal Poverty Guidelines, while others have specific low income requirements set in place. Also you should understand that some states have higher and lower income levels, and your income level will vary depending on household side. Please refer to the chart in this article below to better understand the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
So let’s discuss the two ways you may qualify for a free government cell phone and service: Qualify by Government Assistance, or Qualify by Low Income.
1. Qualify for Lifeline by Participating in a State or Government Assistance Program
A large percentage of people will qualify for Lifeline government cell phone and service by participating in a state or government assistance program. Since you participate in one of these programs, you may also require other financial assistance. In order to prove you qualify by participating in a state or government assistance program, you will need to submit a copy of your approval letter, ID card, or something else showing you currently participate in one of the qualifying programs.
Although state and government assistance programs vary by state, here are the most common programs found in all states:
- Food Stamps, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program (Free Lunch Program Only)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Most Other Government Assistance Programs (varies by state)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
Do You See Your Government Program Above? Then Enter Your Information In the Top-Right Box Above and Click on the “Get Your Free Phone” Button Right Now!
Please remember: every state has their own state-specific assistance programs. You may qualify if you participate in one of these. If you do not see the program you participate in above, please check with your state. You may still qualify by participating in a state or government assistance program.
If you do not qualify for Lifeline by participating in a state or government assistance program, then you may qualify if you have low income (see below).
2. Qualify for Lifeline by Having a Low Total Household Income
Although it is a little easier to qualify for Lifeline by participating in a government assistance program, you may still qualify for a free government cell phone and service if you have a low total household income. Don’t worry, it is still fast and easy to qualify.
All you have to do is prove that your total household income is at or below your state’s Federal Poverty Guidelines (see the income qualifications below). Please understand that total household income includes all of your household size (including dependents). It also includes you and your dependents’ income (taxable and non-taxable), such as: salary, wages, interest, spousal and child support, dividends, allowances, grants, gifts, social security, pensions, rental income, inheritances, lottery winnings, and all other income. Student aid, allowances, military housing, and small cash jobs are not included in the total household income.
You may qualify for a free government cell phone if you meet the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your state. Most states have income maximum levels that are 135% of these guidelines. Some states are more, and some other states have specific guidelines. Please see the income chart below for the current Federal Poverty Guidelines.
|People in Household||AL, AR, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI||AZ, KS, MI, NM, OH, TX||California||Nevada||Vermont|
|1||$15,890||$1,324||$17,655||$1,471||$25,500||$20,598||You are 65 or older on June 15, 2015 and your 2014 household* income was less than $27,528.|
|5||$38,354||$3,196||$42,615||$3,551||$42,100||$49,718||You are under 65 on June 15, 2015 and your 2014 household* income was less than $23,596.|
|For each additional person, add||$5,616||$468||$6,240||$520||$6,200||$7,280||*This includes any household size.|
In addition, in order to qualify for a free government cell phone and service, you must have a valid U.S. mailing address (sorry, no PO boxes). There are also a couple specific Lifeline restrictions:
- Only one Lifeline service account is allowed per household.
- Households may not have a Lifeline cell phone from more than one Lifeline service providers.
- The Lifeline service is non-transferable.
Want to claim your free government cell phone now? Learn how you can get your free government cell phone and service by clicking here.