How to get a free cell phone from the government?

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Americans ages 25 to 64 spend an average of $114 a month on cell phone service. Add to this the cost of a good cell phone which can range from $50 to $500 or even more depending on the brand and features.

Unfortunately, about 10.5 percent of US citizens are below the poverty line. That is, most of them cannot afford to pay for the services of a smartphone, let alone buy even the cheapest device.

And we are all aware that the mobile is essential today. Without one, we are unable to perform various tasks, such as communicating with people, getting help in emergencies, or even shopping for essential items online.

At the same time, there is also good news. The federal government provides free cell phones to certain categories of people under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline Assistance Program.

Understanding the Lifeline Program

The Lifeline Assistance Program covers Americans whose income is 135 percent below the federal poverty line. In addition, it also covers seniors and people with physical disabilities who meet specific government requirements.

To qualify for a  cell phone monitor, your family member must participate in any of these government programs.

The Lifeline Assistance Program covers Americans whose income is 135 percent below the federal poverty line. In addition, it also covers seniors and people with physical disabilities who meet specific government requirements.

To qualify for a free cell phone, your family member must participate in any of these government programs.

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or former Food Stamp Program.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Health insurance
  • Federal Assistance for Public Housing.
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.
  • Tribal programs (for people living on federally recognized tribal lands)

To provide free mobile phones, the government has agreements with several mobile service providers in the US. Under these links, you can get a cell phone device and limited mobile services, including mobile Internet, absolutely free.

The type of device and carrier depends on the state you live in. This is because various mobile operators are partnering for different states for the Lifeline Assistance Program with the federal government.

So the choice of equipment and plans would be somewhat limited, depending on where you live. In some cases, you may have to pay a small amount of money for the mobile device.

Why does the government give free cell phones?

You may be wondering why the federal government actually offers free cell phones. Actually, there are several reasons.

  • Communications: This is the most basic need of all humans. Therefore, the government provides free cell phones with limited free calling time and Internet connectivity to help you stay in touch with family and friends. By December 2021, Lifeline Assistance Program users would get 1,000 free calling minutes each month.
  • Bridging the digital divide: Approximately 21 million people in the United States do not have an Internet connection, primarily due to poverty and cost, according to a Pew Research report. This leaves disadvantaged sections of society behind in everything from education to financial empowerment.
  • Employment opportunities: Nowadays, it is almost impossible to get a job unless you can provide a contact number, preferably a cell phone number, to an employer. Obviously, no employer can call you for an interview or contact you unless you have a working contact number. That’s one more goal of the Lifeline Assistance Program: to help people who are unemployed and below the poverty line find paid work.
  • Health care: Older people and people with physical disabilities may have difficulty seeking medical assistance in emergencies. Therefore, the Lifeline Assistance Program aims to help the elderly and physically disadvantaged to avail prompt health care services by asking for medical help.
  • Suicide Prevention: This is another important goal that the Lifeline Assistance Program aims to achieve. People facing mental or emotional disturbances due to any financial reason can call suicide prevention helplines and get help. This can save precious lives of people who would otherwise die or suffer other consequences of attempting suicide.
  • Safety and Emergency: Older people and the economically weaker sections of society are particularly prone to crime. In fact, according to the American Association of Retired Persons, crimes and physical abuse against the elderly have increased by more than 75 percent in recent years. A cell phone helps those people call 911 for police assistance, if the need arises.

You can get only one free cell phone under the Lifeline Assistance Program, according to the rules that prevail in early 2021, at the time of this writing. However, in some cases, a household can get more than one free cell phone, if other members qualify.

Apply for a free cell phone from the government

There are actually three main ways to apply for a free cell phone from the government. However, check to see if you qualify for a free cell phone before you apply. And if you do, use any of these ways to request one.

Apply online

The easiest way to get a free cell phone from the government is to apply online. Click on this link and select the state where you reside. The website will then ask you for certain details, such as your income and other criteria that qualify you for a Lifeline Assistance Program cell phone.

Mail request

It is also possible to apply for a cell phone from the Lifeline Assistance Program by submitting your application by mail. Forms to request a free cell phone can be downloaded here. These forms are available in English and Spanish. You’ll need to submit them with proof of income and other relevant details to prove you qualify for the free cell phone.

Apply directly to mobile companies

The third and fastest way is to apply directly to the mobile phone companies that are Lifeline Assistance Program partners. To do so, click here to find out which cell phone companies offer free cell phones in your area.

You will need to submit your zip code and the state where you live. The website will display the operators near you to request them directly.

Here it is worth remembering that each carrier has a different set of rules for offering a cell phone under the Lifeline Assistance Program. While some charge a small one-time fee for a phone, others have a minimal subscription cost. Others offer it totally free.

Free cell phone document verification

Before you rush to apply for a free cell phone, here’s something extremely important. Service providers and other agencies independently verify all documents you submit to indicate that you qualify for a free cell phone.

Therefore, never falsify documents or make false claims. Providing false information can disqualify you from getting the free cell phone or even land you in legal trouble. At the same time, you can apply for a free government cell phone in the name of any eligible member of your household.

Delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Processing and issuing free cell phones from the government could face delays even if you qualify. The main reason is the lack of manpower in certain government offices and those of mobile phone companies.

This is a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues almost unabated in the US even in early 2021. Therefore, some processes, such as verifying your eligibility and documents, may take longer than expected. usual.

However, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern as long as you meet any of the eligibility criteria for a free smartphone from the government.

In conclusion

In case you don’t qualify for a free cell phone, there is nothing to worry about. Many mobile carriers in the US have very cheap mobile service packages with limited features. These are available for as little as $6 per month, from some carriers. In such cases, you can also opt for plans that cost a bit more, if you need more services like more free talk time and more internet data on your mobile.

 

Read also : How to get a free cell phone from the government?

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