While some may believe cell phones are luxury goods, having a way to communicate is essential for senior citizens. This is especially true for certain senior citizens living alone or with other senior citizens, because cell phones can be used to call doctors appointments or for use in case of emergencies. There is a government sponsored program that helps senior citizens get free cell phone service (and sometimes even a free cell phone), regardless of income status. This program is called the Lifeline Assistance Program.
Lifeline was established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the 1980s. The program originally gave eligible individuals, including senior citizens, a discount on their landline telecom bill, which usually was no more than $10. In 2008, the program was updated to also include cell phone services. Does Lifeline provide free government cell phone service for seniors? Yes, and no; today, some private companies also give a cell phone to use with the free airtime. These companies completely pay for the cost of cell phones as a way to help senior citizens and other eligible low-income people.
The cell phones for senior citizens can be used for keeping up with doctor’s appointments, for use in case of an emergency, and for talking with loved ones including friends and family. Depending on cell phone plans, unused airtime can be accumulated and used in subsequent months. If more talk time is necessary, the recipient can also purchase additional prepaid airtime.
In order to receive a free cell phone, you must be eligible to enroll in the Lifeline program. You must also live in a state that offers the program. Although eligibility differs from state to state, you may qualify for a free senior citizen cell phone if you meet one of the two following criteria: having an income that meets your state’s Federal Poverty Guidelines, or participating in a government assistance program such as Medicaid or Food Stamps (SNAP).
Being enrolled in most government assistance programs will also make you qualified for Lifeline. Some of the most common government assistance programs include Medicaid, Food Stamps, Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and most other government assistance programs.
If you do not participate in a government assistance program, you may also qualify for Lifeline if you meet your state’s Federal Poverty Guidelines. Usually this means you cannot have a total household income that is above a certain percent in your state.
So how do you get a free cell phone for seniors? You will need to enroll in the program and provide a proof document that shows you participate in a government assistance program, or you have a household income that meets your state’s Federal Poverty Guidelines. There is also a limit of one free cell phone per household, and you may not have more than one cell phone from one Lifeline service provider. You can apply over the phone, or more conveniently, online in an instant.
If you are one of the many senior citizens barely getting by on Social Security, this provides an opportunity for you to at least be able to call for help during emergencies. Just make sure you keep your cell phone nearby at all times, as you never know when you will need it.
We applaud the government and Lifeline service providers in their efforts to help improve the lives of those most in need! If you are a senior citizen in need of a free cell phone, make sure you check your eligibility or enroll today. Just enter your information below and click on the orange button labeled “Get Your Free Phone” right now.