Having access to reliable phone or Internet service is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity to stay in touch with family members, schools, childcare providers, employers and emergency responders. The federal government provides financial help for qualified households to pay the cost of these services under the Lifeline Program. If you’re eligible, you will receive at least $9.25 per month to help lower your phone and Internet bills.
Step 1 : How to Qualify for Lifeline
There are two ways to qualify for this program:
- You are currently receiving government assistance, such as Medicaid, SNAP, a Tribal or a qualifying Federal Program; or
- Your income is 135 percent or less than the Federal poverty guidelines.
If your child or dependent participates in any of the programs listed above, you can also apply for Lifeline.
Tribal Lifeline pays up to an extra $25.00 per month off your communications bill, for a potential total of up to $34.25 in savings. Along with participating in a qualifying program, Tribal Lifeline recipients must live on Tribal lands.
Proof of participation in government programs or proof of income is required when you apply for Lifeline. You will be asked to provide a statement or benefit, income tax return, pay stub or other official documentation.
Step 2 : Choose a Phone or Internet Provider
If you think you may qualify for the Lifeline Program, your next step is to choose a phone or Internet company.
Cellphone companies are offering free cell phones for low-income customers program, depending on the state you live in. Some examples of large cellphone providers that participate include Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless and Life Wireless, as well as:
- Access Wireless allows customers to pay for a smartphone upgrade.
- Budget Mobile has free smartphones available for Lifeline Program customers in some states.
- Blue Jay Wireless offers its customers an upgraded phone for an extra fee.
- C-spire Wireless offers a $9.25 credit per month to postpaid calling plans only.
- Cintex Wireless also has free smartphones available for Lifeline Program customers in certain states.
- GCI Wireless is available only in Alaska for $1.00 per month and offers smartphones to customers.
- Q Link Wireless provides eligible customers with a free smartphone, free monthly calling, free monthly data and unlimited texting.
- StandUp Wireless is offering its Lifeline customers a free 4G LTE smartphone and free service.
- Tag Mobile offers a free smartphone, but doesn’t specify the type or model available.
- Tempo Communications does offer a free feature phone.
- Terracom Wireless offers free smartphone; customers can upgrade to get data.
- TruConnect customers in California can get a free smartphone.
You also have the option of contacting the cellphone provider of your choice to ask whether it participates in the Lifeline Program.
Step 3 : Apply for Lifeline Through the Communications Company
Once you find a communications company you like, ask for a Lifeline application. You’ll need to provide some personal information when you apply: Your full name, address, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. This is the part of the process where you will be asked to show supporting documentation to prove your identity (Driver’s License or Social Security card), your eligibility for government programs (statement of benefits, Medicaid card) or income (prior year’s tax return).
If your application for the Lifeline Program is approved, you will receive the discount on your bill. You have the option of having the discount applied to your existing cellphone or Internet service if you qualify.