Lifeline Program Provides Free Government Cell Phone Services to Low Income Families

By | April 25, 2016

free government cell phoneDaily Cell Phones strives to bring our readers the best and most recent cell phone specials available, but we also want to make sure that you are aware of every discount available to you. In this case, we’re once again highlighting the Lifeline Program that the government provides for eligible low-income households.

This program has been criticized by many as an unnecessary luxury giveaway by the government, but that criticism fails to take the societal changes of the past few decades fully into account. First of all, the Lifeline program has been in place since 1985, so it’s not some scheme the current administration dreamed up just to spend money. At the time, of course, it only applied to landline phones, since cell phones weren’t yet available to the majority of the public.

In 2005 (also prior to the current administration), the service was expanded to include cellular phones. This was a logical extension of the program, since the shift away from landlines and to cell phones was hitting full steam. Recently the program expanded again to allow low-income households to get discounted or free broadband internet access for their home computers.

It’s important to note that eligible households get a choice – either landline or cell service, but not both. Only one Lifeline phone (landline or cellular) is allowed for each household as well. The cell phone has become more of a necessity and less of a luxury over the past decade. In the past someone who needed emergency help when out and about could find a payphone close by. Today payphones are all but non-existent thanks to the rise in cellular phone use. With this in mind it’s much easier to understand how free government cell phone services are justifiable for many people.

No one that I’m aware of has ever complained about 911 services being funded by tax dollars. In fact, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people would completely agree that 911 is an important public service that has saved many lives over the years. But you can’t call 911 if you don’t have a phone. Or your doctor. Or a family member or friend. When help is needed right now, it’s of vital importance to have the means necessary to call for that help. And that is why the Lifeline program exists.

To qualify for a Lifeline discount, your income must be at or less than 135% of the current federal Poverty Guidelines or you must already be participating in one of many government assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), SSI, or Section 8 housing. The phone and service are actually provided by third-party cellular companies, the government simply provides the subsidies that allow those companies to offer them for free or at a heavily discounted rate. That means any issues you have with the phone or service must go through the providing company, not the government.

To get more detailed information about the Lifeline Program, find out if you’re eligible, and find the companies in your area that provide the service, you can visit Lifeline.org.

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