The idea that folks may qualify for free cell phones might seem too good to be true, but there is a government program that's set up to ensure that people have ways to communicate. This is done with the understanding that in the modern world it's essential for all citizens to be able to get in touch with others and to be reached by phone. If you're wondering about the program, this is what you need to know about it.
The Mobile Lifeline Assistance Program
Established in 1985 and originally intended for people with landlines, the program has since become the Mobile Lifeline Assistance Program. If you've ever noticed the Universal Service Fund charge on a phone bill, this is what it actually pays for. It's intended to ensure that people have the ability to communicate when they are in need of emergency services, searching for work, dealing with job-related issues and coping with other day-to-day problems.
The list of people who qualify for free government phones is impressive. Already being on virtually any needs-based federal program likely means you're qualified to receive a phone for free or at a discount. The list includes folks who qualify for SSI, TANF (sometimes called Food Stamps), Medicaid, Section 8 subsidized housing, and even some veterans and survivors programs. You may also qualify if you are or a family member is enrolled in the school free lunch program, LIHEAP, Head Start, WIC, or a tribal assistance program.
People who make no more than 135% of the federal poverty guideline may qualify, too. According to government guidelines published in January of 2018, an individual would need to have a total income of less than $16,400 to qualify. For a family of four, that figure would be nearly $34,000 a year. Those amounts include all income, including earnings and government assistance.
Most people who come into contact with the program do so through agencies run by the states they live in. There are a number of companies that accept customers from these programs, and they will provide phones that connect with the systems used by the major wireless carriers. You'll need to file paperwork attesting to your finances.
The majority of providers offer "freemium" plans. This means they'll offer something like 200 minutes of voice, 500 texts, and 500 Mb of data for free, and then you'll have to pay for any overages.
To learn more, contact companies like freeobamaphone.org.