With times changing rapidly, there is an increasing need to keep in touch with modem technology. People need cell phones to stay connected with their colleagues, family, and friends. However, not everyone may be able to afford the latest smartphones or the best internet plans.
But people who fall within the low-income group can avail free government phones under the beneficial Lifeline Assistance program. They can access a considerably inexpensive wireless network connection or a mobile voice plan.
For the uninitiated, the following is critical information to help you understand the program better and see if you qualify for it.
What is it?
One of the most incredible government benefit schemes, The Lifeline Program, offers free mobiles to eligible low-income residents in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands.
It lowers the cost of phone services drastically, offering one connection to each qualifying household.
The idea behind this remarkable plan is that people who could not otherwise afford phones would now have them to help look for work, call 911 in case of emergencies, or simply stay in touch with family members.
Invariably, the philosophy behind the initiative is to count the telephone as a basic necessity on par with food, education, and housing.
Individuals already on some specified government schemes such as Medicaid or FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations) are eligible for this program. You also qualify if your income happens to be at or below 135%, as specified by the Federal poverty guidelines.
How does it work?
The program provides subscribers a monthly discount of up to $9.25 on basic phone services to eligible subscribers. The discount for those on Tribal lands is up to $34.25 a month.
The critical thing one must note is that subscribers can avail themselves of a wireless or wired connection under the scheme, but not both at the same time. Also, only one connection is allowed per household.
The Universal Service Administrative Company(USAC) is responsible for administering the scheme and helping consumers apply for it. The authority helps applicants understand the eligibility criteria, what documents to submit, channels to use, and ways to keep their current benefits via a yearly ratification process.
Documents to be submitted during application:
Applicants must submit all or a combination of the below documents when applying for the free phones.
- The name of the consumer and the program. An official document issued by the Tribal administration or government
- Tribal, Federal, or State tax returns disclosing the proof of income
- Payment stubs or an employer-issued income disclosure statement
- A statement of any current benefits (Veterans, pension, unemployment, etc.)
- Divorce decree or child support orders
- Personal identification documents such as Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Passport, Birth Certificate, and Military Discharge Document, among others.
- Current lease or mortgage documents
- A notarized statement ratifying the applicant’s “alive” status
- Applicants below eighteen years of age must submit a court statement confirming they are emancipated minors
After submission, the application goes through the National Verifier System. In cases where the submitted paperwork turns out to be insufficient, the body will ask for additional documents. Following this, there will be a manual verification step to decide whether the application can be approved.
All approved applicants are eligible to receive free government phones and can enjoy the chance to browse and select an appropriate plan.
Who benefits from the scheme?
This scheme benefits those who need phones to conduct their everyday activities but cannot afford to buy them. Such government-provided assistance goes a long way to make their lives easier and improve their standard of living.
The following are some categories of people who should consider applying for this exceptionally helpful program.
- Low-income families or individuals
- Those who have already enrolled in the National School Lunch Program
- Anyone already enrolled in government programs for the underprivileged such as Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Residents using Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income, among others
- Those enrolled in Federal Public Housing Programs
- People on Survivors Benefits or Veterans Pension Programs
So, those from the above-listed categories can easily apply for the program through a hassle-free process.
By cutting down on phone expenses and monthly phone bills, the program enables people to put their budget to better use. They can invest in quality education, healthier food, school supplies, utilities, and other essentials.
More than ten million people in the country are estimated to have subscribed to this remarkable program. Many families that use this service have no other way of obtaining a good-quality working phone and affordable basic call or wireless services.
So, if you are eligible for the scheme, it is a good idea to consider applying for it.