The U.S. Census Bureau reports the national poverty rate is at 15.4 percent. With a state-wide poverty rate of 9.8 percent, Maryland has managed to be about half of the national average. Maryland, however, is still experiencing some tough economic times, and there are still tens of thousands of people who are living under the poverty line.
Many of the low-income people living in Maryland simply cannot afford their monthly bills. As a result, they may have shut off their cell phone plan so they can save some money. This could mean a huge inconvenience for many individuals and family living in Maryland.
Thankfully, free government cell phones in Maryland are being provided through the government benefit program called Lifeline. These cell phones are given to qualified low-income people and families to help them keep in touch with friends and family and provide a number that potential employers can call to reach them.
What Is Lifeline?
Although some people have nicknamed Lifeline the “free government cell phone program”, or the “Obama phone program”, Lifeline was actually started by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the 1980s. Officially called the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program, or Lifeline, the program originally gave a discount on landline phone services to eligible low-income people.
In the 2000s, the program was updated to include cell phone services, and the FCC began allowing private phone companies the ability to provide Lifeline. These phone companies have to be approved by the FCC in order to provide Lifeline. These companies are also the ones who provide the free cell phones to use with the up to 250 free minutes a month. The government or FCC does not pay for the phones; the private companies are the ones who absorb the cost.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Free Government Cell Phones in Maryland?
There are two eligibility requirements for free government cell phones in Maryland. Firstly, anyone who has a total household income that meets Maryland’s Federal Poverty Guidelines may qualify for the Lifeline program. You may see the low-income guidelines by clicking here.
Or, you may qualify for Lifeline if you currently participate in any of the following government assistance programs in Maryland:
- Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- National School Lunch Program (Free Lunch Program Only)
- Temporary Disability Assistance Program (TDAP)
- Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP)
- Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)
- Public Assistance to Adults (PAA)
- Food Stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Most Other Government Assistance Programs in Maryland
How Do You Get Free Government Cell Phones in Maryland?
Getting a free government cell phone in Maryland requires you to sign up with an approved Lifeline service provider of your choice. Once you select your Lifeline service provider, you can generally sign up by visiting their website, by calling them and speaking with a representative, or by mailing in a paper application.
Don’t live without a cell phone any longer! There is help out there, and it’s Lifeline. Stay connected to your family, friends, co-workers, job opportunities, doctors, and 911 emergency services. Stay connected today; here’s how: enter your information in the blue box above and click on the orange button immediately.