Do you have low income? Or, do you participate in a government assistance program like Medicaid or Food Stamps? You may qualify for free government cell phone service!
In order to get free cell phone service, you have to qualify for the government program called Lifeline Assistance. Like any government benefit program, there are some eligibility requirements to participate in Lifeline.
First Find Out Your State’s Approved Lifeline Supplier
First, you must know that Lifeline free government cell phone service is distributed and operated only by approved Lifeline companies, who operate in different states. Not every state will have the same Lifeline supplier. Therefore, you must submit your Lifeline application to an approved supplier in your state, who will then verify your information and eligibility.
These suppliers will also manage your free cell phone service account for the entire time you participate in the Lifeline program. It is very important that you do your research on your chosen Lifeline supplier before signing up for the program. We have an entire page dedicated to approved Lifeline companies here.
How to Qualify for Free Government Cell Phone Service
If you struggle financially, then you probably will qualify for free government cell phone service. It is really fast and easy to figure out whether you do qualify to receive free government cell phone service!
Since Lifeline is a federally regulated government assistance program, its eligibility requirements are similar across the United States.
There are two ways to qualify for Lifeline. First, if you already participate in a government assistance program like Medicaid or Food Stamps, then you already qualify for Lifeline. You may also qualify if you have low yearly income and you meet your state’s poverty guidelines.
OPTION 1: QUALIFY BY GOVERNMENT PROGRAM
Eligibility can vary state to state. However, if you are currently participating in any of the following programs, you most likely be able to receive free cell phone service:
- Food Stamps, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program (Free Lunch Program Only)
- Most Other Government Assistance Programs (varies by state)
Remember that eligibility depends on your state, and some states have specific government programs that will also qualify you for Lifeline service. Therefore, there is not a universal list of government assistance programs that will qualify you for Lifeline. Each state has their own specific list of qualifying programs. This is why you must check if your state has specific government programs that will qualify you for Lifeline.
Most people will qualify for free Lifeline cell phone service through participation in a government assistance program. If you already participate in a government program then you have already proven that you are in financial need for free cell phone service. Qualifying is easy, because all you have to do is show some sort of proof of your participation in a government assistance program.
Don’t already participate in a government assistance program? You can also qualify if you have low income, which is explained below.
OPTION 2: QUALIFY BY HAVING LOW HOUSEHOLD YEARLY INCOME
If your yearly household income is at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines of your state, then you may be eligible for Lifeline. Qualifying through low income is easy, but you would have to prove your income level.
You first need to know what your total household income is. You can look at any one of the following documents to help you find out what your total household income is:
- Your last 3 consecutive paystubs
- An income statement from your employer, or W-2
- Your prior year’s state or federal tax return
- A retirement or pension statement of benefits
- Your Social Security statement of benefits
- Your Veterans Administration (VA) statement of benefits
- Unemployment or Workers’ Comp statement of benefits
- A Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
- A Tribal Tax Return
Every financial situation is different, so the list above covers the majority of documents to determine your Total Household Income.
Once you know your Total household income, you can determine whether you are eligible for Lifeline free government cell phone service. Usually, if your household makes less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, then you qualify for Lifeline free government cell phone service.
In addition, some states, such as Alaska and Hawaii vary from the typical 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. It is important to see your state’s Federal Poverty Guidelines to ensure whether you are eligible for Lifeline. Below is the 2021 Federal Poverty Guidelines chart.
|Persons in |
States and D.C.
|For each additional|
What exactly is a household? According to the Federal Lifeline program, a household is defined as “any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income and expenses.”
You are only allowed one Lifeline account per household. Households may only receive Lifeline benefits from a single provider. This means if you want to switch Lifeline providers, you must cancel service with your current provider before applying for service with your new one.
Additionally, in order to qualify you must also have a valid United States mailing address (no PO boxes).
Sign Up for Free Cell Phone Service!
Do you qualify for free cell phone service? You can claim your free government cell phone service in just minutes. Simply click below to apply online for Lifeline!
(i) the service is a Lifeline service; (ii) Lifeline is a government assistance program; (iii) the service may not be transferred to someone else; (iv) consumers must meet certain eligibility requirements before enrolling in the Lifeline program; (v) the Lifeline program permits only one Lifeline discount per household; (vi) documentation is necessary for enrollment; and (vii) Q LINK is the provider of the services.