We are currently living in tough economic times. Thousands of jobs have been lost recent years. National unemployment rates still hover at a high rate of 8.3%. People who have been hardest hit by the times are forced to cut vital services such as their cell phone service. For low income people having a cell phone is a lifeline. It could mean the difference between having a device to take a return call from a job interview and staying unemployed. It allows people in low income situations to make phone calls for doctors appointments and to be used in 911 emergency situations. The government has enacted a program, Lifeline, to provide low income families with government subsidized cellular phones. Not just anyone can get a government subsidized cell phone. You must meet some basic requirements.
The intent of Lifeline is to ensure that everyone regardless of income has access to basic telephone service. In order to be eligible to get a government subsidized cellular phone you need to have an income below your states poverty line. The poverty line definition varies from state to state so do some research to see if you qualify. You can also qualify for the government subsidized cell phone program if you take part in at least one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), The National School Free Lunch Program.
While Lifeline was enacted with good intentions it has come under fire from critics for being a government waste program that suffers from poor oversight. Last year the federal program paid out $1.6 billion to cover free cell phones and $12.5 million to cover monthly cell phone bills for wireless accounts. Critics have claimed that people who don't qualify get phones and thousands of people who do qualify have more than one phone.
According to the program guideline only one government subsidized cell phone can be given to the head of the household per family. Those who qualify are given a basic cell phone with 68 free minutes of calling time per month. If more minutes are needed they have the option of buying additional minutes at a discounted rate. The government subsidized cell phone that is given to people are very basic models that only make phone calls. You won't find any fancy, hi-tech smartphones being given out for free. If you're in need of a cell phone then you should check to see if you qualify for a government subsidized cell phone.