The current ‘federal minimum wage’ is $7.25 per hour. Yet, many families and individuals are not able to make ends meet. For those with no job, it gets all the harder to pay for essentials, including food and rent. So, owning a cell phone and having to pay the monthly bills for voice calls along with the additional amount of text and data can be a huge burden, to say the least. However, people who find it difficult to afford even this essential facility can benefit from the Government phones for low-income families, which is known as the Lifeline program across the country.
The Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers is a government assisted free cell phone service that provides discounted phone services to eligible low-income individuals and families.
Lifeline Services discounts are offered to qualified customers who meet certain eligibility requirements such as, government assistance or a household income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty level. With an aim to decrease the monthly cost of phone and internet for eligible customers, the program ensures they get at least $9.25 toward their bill, as they get benefits of free minutes and free texts every month. However, they can only use Lifeline for either phone or the internet, but not both.
The primary objective of the Lifeline program is to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund and is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). It is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands.
On March 31, 2016, the Commission adopted a comprehensive reform and modernization of the Lifeline program. To qualify for the program and get a free cell phone, you must be a current participant in at least one of the several government programs. The following is the list of those programs with some recent changes.