In an increasingly interconnected world, a smartphone has become an absolute necessity. People need to communicate with friends and family and carry out work-related tasks.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a smartphone. Paying for phone and internet services is a significant issue for those who can get low-end handsets.
Luckily, the Federal government has established Lifeline Assistance and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) initiatives to provide low-income families with free Android phones.
But how do you get free Android phones from government? This article discusses that topic in greater detail to provide you with a comprehensive guide.
- Free Android phones from the government are available to those who qualify for Lifeline Assistance and the ACP.
- A wide variety of free Android phones come from large and smaller smartphone brands.
- Several providers offer free Android phones via Lifeline Assistance and the ACP.
- Besides a free phone, those eligible for Lifeline Assistance and the ACP also get free or discounted unlimited data, texts, and internet.
Getting Free Android Phones Via Lifeline Assistance
Lifeline Assistance is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program designed to provide free government phones and phone services to low-income individuals. It is available in every state, Tribal Land, and territory.
Beneficiaries of Lifeline Assistance get a discount of up to $9.25 on their monthly telephone bill. Tribal Lands residents get $34.25 off their monthly phone bill. For service plans covered entirely by the discount, subscribers enjoy free services.
Eligibility Criteria for Lifeline Assistance
To get a free Android government phone, you must be eligible for Lifeline Assistance. The eligibility criteria are income-based or dependent on your participation in Federal Assistance. Here are ways to qualify for free Android phones from government via Lifeline Assistance:
1. Income-Based Eligibility
If your income is under 135% of poverty guidelines, you can get a free Android government phone courtesy of Lifeline Assistance. Federal Poverty guidelines change with time and vary from one state to another. Therefore, they are likely to be different in your area.
Here is a comprehensive outline of the 2022 poverty guidelines and the corresponding income thresholds based on where you reside:
2022 Poverty Guidelines and Lifeline Income Thresholds for 48 States and the District of Columbia:
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||Lifeline income thresholds (135% of poverty guideline)|
|The amount for each additional family member||$4,720||$6,372|
Most states in America and the District of Columbia have similar poverty guidelines. A one-member household in these states requires an annual income of up to $18,347.
You would need an additional $6,372 every time you add a family member. If you live with seven other people, your annual income should be $62,951.
2022 Poverty Guidelines and Lifeline Income Thresholds for Alaska:
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||Lifeline income threshold (135% of poverty guideline)|
|The amount for each additional family member||$5,900||$7,965|
The poverty guideline for a single-member household in Alaska is $16,990, which translates to a $22,937 income threshold. You would need to add $7,965 to your income every time your household membership increases by one. Therefore, if your household has eight members, you would need an annual income of $78,692.
2022 Poverty Guidelines and Lifeline Income Thresholds for Hawaii:
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||Lifeline Income Threshold (135% of poverty guideline)|
|The amount for each additional family member||$5,430||$7,330|
Hawaii also stands out from the rest states with distinct poverty guidelines. So, you are considered poor if you earn less than $15,630 annually.
The income threshold is $21,101 annually, with an additional $7,330 every time your household membership increases by one. Therefore, an eight-member household should have an income of $72,414.
2. Participation in a Federal Assistance Program
Another way to qualify for a free Android government phone is by participating in a Federal assistance program. So, you can apply for Lifeline Assistance and get a free phone. You only need to participate in any of the following Federal assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal Head Start (for households that qualify based on income)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
How to Apply for Free Android Government Phones Via Lifeline Assistance
You may apply for Lifeline Assistance in three ways: online, via mail, or through your phone service provider. Here is a description of each of the application options:
Online application happens on the National Verifier website, where you’ll fill out the application form. Provide the relevant information, including your identity, address, and eligibility.
Be sure to attach all the necessary documents. After applying, wait for approval to get one of the free Android phones from the government.
If you can’t apply online, print out the application form. Fill it out with all the required information, attach copies of documents, and send it via the following address:
- USAC Lifeline Support Center,
- P.O Box 7081,
- London, KY 40742
Each service provider has a dedicated website where you can apply for a free Android phone via Lifeline Assistance. So, after choosing a provider, check out and follow their application process.
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is another FCC-sponsored program that supports low-income families with affordable communication services.
It was unveiled in January 2022 as a replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). The EBB was established in 2020 to meet the needs of those who lost income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the ACP, you get a discount of up to $30 or $75 for those living on Tribal Lands. It also provides a $100 one-time deal for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.
The ACP offers substantial discounts on monthly phone bills when combined with Lifeline Assistance. A household can get only one ACP discount.
Eligibility Criteria for the Affordable Connectivity Program
There are several ways of qualifying for a free Android phone courtesy of the ACP. For example, your income should be up to a certain level, or you should participate in a Federal Assistance Program. Here is how to qualify for the ACP:
1. Participation in Lifeline Assistance
Are you already enjoying free Android phone and phone service discounts from Lifeline Assistance? You don’t need to sweat to prove eligibility for the ACP. After all, the Lifeline eligibility criteria apply to the ACP.
2. Benefit from a Lifeline Eligible Program
If you do not benefit from Lifeline Assistance, you can still qualify for the ACP. All you need is to meet the Lifeline Eligibility criteria.
3. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program
The Federal government also has a nutrition program targeting women, infants, and children. If you or a family member participates in the program, you can enrol in the ACP. Only that you would have to prove your eligibility using valid documentation.
4. School Lunch Program
If your children benefit from any Federal school feeding programs, you can apply for the ACP and enjoy its broadband benefits. While some programs offer complimentary food, others only subsidize the price.
The program includes school breakfast and School Lunch programs provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) so eligible community schools. By proving participation in these programs, you can enjoy the ACP discount.
5. Federal Pell Grant
Through the Federal Pell Grant, the government supports education for university students from low-income families. So, if you or a family member received a Pell Grant in the last 12 months, you can apply for the ACP discounts.
6. Annual Income Below 200% of Poverty Guidelines
For the ACP, your income should be under 200% of prevailing poverty guidelines. In the U.S., poverty guidelines change based on the state where you reside. That’s why you should be abreast of the poverty guidelines in your area.
The following is an outline of the poverty guidelines and ACP income thresholds for 2022 in different states:
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP Income Thresholds for 48 States and the District of Columbia:
|No. of persons in a family or household||2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines||ACP income thresholds (200% of poverty guideline)|
|Each additional household member||$4,720||$9,440|
The poverty guidelines are uniform in most states and the District of Columbia. A one-member family is considered poor if its annual income is below $13,590. Such a household should have an income of up to $27,180 to qualify for the ACP.
As the family grows, the income threshold increases by $9,440 with every additional family member. That means an eight-member family needs an annual income of $93,260 to qualify for the ACP discount.
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP Income Thresholds for Alaska:
|No. of persons in a family or household||2022 Federal poverty guideline||ACP Income thresholds (200% of poverty guideline)|
|Each additional household member||$5,900||$11,800|
Alaskans in single-member families with an income of up to $16,990 are considered poor. They can qualify for the ACP discount together with those whose income doesn’t exceed $33,980.
Each additional family member increases the income threshold by $11,800 for every extra member. As such, you would need a $116,580 annual income in an eight-member family to get the ACP discount.
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP Income Threshold for Hawaii:
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||ACP Income Limit (200% of poverty guideline)|
|Each additional household member||$5,430||$10,860|
In Hawaii, a two-member household needs a $42,120 annual income to qualify for the ACP discount. For a three-member family, the ACP income threshold is $52,980, with an increase of $10,860 for the additional member.
How to Apply for the ACP Discount
Application for the ACP discount is also possible online, via mail, and on the provider’s website. Here is an outline of the ACP application process:
You should fill out the application form o apply for the ACP discount online. Provide the required information together with the relevant documents in electronic format. After submitting your application, hold on for notification about approval or the lack of it.
Alternatively, you may print out the ACP application form, fill it out, attach relevant documents, and submit it via mail. You also need to print and send the Household Worksheet. Put the papers in an envelope and submit them via the following address:
- ACP Support Center
- P.O Box 7081
- London, KY 40742
Application Via Internet Provider
If your internet provider offers the ACP discount, you can complete your application through their website. Check your provider’s requirements to ensure you’re finishing your application correctly.
Documents You Need to Ge Free Android Phones from Government
Your application for a free Android government phone from the government isn’t applicable until you provide documentary evidence. For instance, you must verify your identity, address, income, and participation in a Federal Assistance program.
Here are some of the document categories you should collect as you prepare to hand in your application:
Your identification documents prove you are applying for Lifeline Assistance or the ACP. Attach a document that shows your name, age, date of birth, and social security number. The following are some of the documents you need:
- A valid state, Tribal, military, or government ID
- Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
- Birth Certificate
- U.S. Driver’s License
- Green Card or Permanent Resident Card
- Federal Assistance Program Document
Address Verification Documents
You must also verify your address using an official document with your legal name and address. Here are examples of the documents you can provide to prove your address:
- A current utility bill
- Lease or mortgage statement
- Driver’s License
- Tax returns or the most recent W-2
- A valid state, Federal, or Tribal ID
Proof of Income
Provide official documents proving if you qualify for Lifeline or the ACP due to your income. You may provide any of the following documents:
- The previous year’s tax returns (Federal, Tribal, or state)
- A pension/retirement statement of benefits
- A Social Security statement of benefits
- A statement of benefits for Veterans Administration
- A current paycheck stub or employer income statement
- Child support award
- Worker’s Compensation or Unemployment statement of benefits
- Divorce decree
Documents Proving Participation in An Assistance Program
Do you or a family member benefit from Federal Assistance? Provide an official document proving your eligibility based on participation in Federal Assistance. Notably, the document shouldn’t expire in more than 12 months.
The following are some of the documents you must have:
- Benefit verification letter
- Approval letter
- School documentation
- Benefit award letter
- Statement of benefits
For emancipated minors, having a document to prove that is also important. You should be able to prove that with a certificate of emancipation or court documents. Also, remember to attach social security or a government-issued ID.
The 9 Best Providers of Free Android Phones from Government
There are several providers of free Android phones from the government. While some operate nationwide, others may only offer their services in a few states. The following are the primary providers of free Android government phones:
1. American Assistance
American Assistance provides free Android phones to applicants who qualify through Lifeline Assistance. It reaches subscribers in 21 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.
Besides a cell phone, you’ll receive 500MB of data, 500 texts, and 500 minutes. The Lifeline Assistance Android smartphone features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a camera, and a touchscreen.
2. Assurance Wireless
New Lifeline Assistance clients on Assurance Wireless are eligible for a free Android phone from the government.
You’ll get free data, 1,000 minutes, and unlimited texts with the free smartphone. The ACP plan gives you unlimited data, minutes, texts, and 10GB of hotspot data.
3. FeelSafe Wireless
FeelSafe Wireless provides free Android phones from the government to individuals qualifying via Lifeline Assistance and the ACP.
The company operates in California, New York, South Carolina, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Mississippi. Its voice, text, and data plans vary by state.
4. Life Wireless
If you meet the Lifeline eligibility criteria, you may get a free Android phone from Life Wireless. Lifeline and ACP discounts in 32 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico can benefit you.
Life Wireless has various plans but may provide 500 minutes or unlimited texts and talk. If you qualify for the ACP, you may get 30GB of data and unlimited talk and texts.
5. SafeLink Wireless
SafeLink Wireless offers Lifeline Assistance and the ACP to low-income families across the United States. It has a comprehensive network coverage, reaching most regions of the country.
New customers may get a free Android phone and elaborate phone plans that include unlimited data, tests, and calls. Besides, you may bring your phone and transfer your number to the network.
6. SafetyNet Wireless
SafetyNet is a primary Lifeline/ACP/California Lifeline provider that offers paid-for, discounted, and free Android phones to low-income people. It is available in California, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
Depending on the Lifeline plan, you may pay between $0 and $25 per month for 12GB of data and unlimited texts and talk.
7. StandUp Wireless
Working with Lifeline and the ACP, StandUp Wireless offers free android phones from the government. Its service plans include 10GB of data and unlimited texts and talk. Alternatively, you may join its 5G network by bringing your own phone and retaining your number.
8. TAG Mobile
TAG Mobile is one of the providers of Lifeline and the ACP. It targets clients in 19 states due to reliance on the T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless networks.
New Lifeline/ACP clients can get a free Android phone from the government, 8GB of data, and unlimited texts and data in California. Clients get 4.5GB of data, 1,000 minutes, and unlimited texts elsewhere.
Instead of a free device, you can bring your own phone and transfer your number to the network provider. In that case, you would have to sign up for a monthly or prepaid plan.
TruConnect is one of the government’s foremost providers of free Android phones. It operates in 36 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Besides a free phone, you’ll get 14GB of data, unlimited talk and texts, and free international calls to selected countries.
It has a wide variety of phone plans, broadband services, and hotspots. TruConnect has one of the widest varieties of Android phones and iPhones for free or at a discount.
Types of Free Android Phones from the Government
You can get several types of free Android phones from the government. They come from large and small brands, including the following:
- LG Electronics
The Bottom Line
Free Android phones from the government are available to low-income individuals via the Lifeline or ACP programs. Besides, the two programs also provide free or discounted monthly Broadband or phone services.
Several companies participate in the Lifeline and ACP programs, allowing you to get a free device and affordable services. You may choose a Lifeline or ACP provider based on availability in your location.
People Also Ask
Each family is entitled to only one free phone at a time. So, if you’re living together and share finances, expenses, and other aspects, you can only get one phone.
No, you cannot get the Lifeline/ACP benefits directly. The FCC pays the discount to a service provider, so all you get is the phone or broadband service for free or at a deal.
You can get a free Android phone from the government by applying for it via the National Verifier. Also, you must ascertain that you meet the income-based or assistance beneficiary eligibility criteria.