Not everyone needs a high-tech smartphone to communicate. A basic flip phone is enough for some people to make and take calls, send and receive texts, and take photos.
Unfortunately, low-income people, senior citizens, and other special groups cannot afford to buy essential flip phones. Thus, they are locked out of the communication loop.
Luckily, they can apply for free government flip phones via Lifeline Assistance, an initiative whose purpose is to enable everyone to communicate with their family and friends.
Why Choose a Flip Phone
Segments of the population, especially senior citizens, prefer flip phones over modern smartphones for various reasons. Flip phones have various features designed to make life more bearable for senior citizens.
Flip phones are less distracting by providing basic communication capabilities with fewer features. Also, a fully-charged flip phone battery may last for days compared to a smartphone that lasts hours.
Besides the advantage of charging flip phones less frequently, senior citizens find the well-spaced keypads easy to use. Using the phone makes it easier to press specific buttons, which is impossible with smartphones.
Finally, smartphones have too many apps and functions for the senior citizens’ trembling hands. Most of the time, they may unintentionally command the wrong applications. The typical flip phone has a navigation key and well-spaced buttons for easy and comfortable calling or texting.
Here are features of flip phones that make them appealing to senior citizens:
- Affordable and with basic features
- Easy navigation through the phone’s functions
- Large keypad with large, well-spaced buttons
- Foldable to a minuscule size for easy storage
- Compatible with hearing aids
- Medical and other alert capabilities
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Loudspeakers with adjustable volume control
How to Get Flip Phones Via Lifeline Assistance
While there are alternative ways to get a free government flip phone, most low-income people get them via Lifeline Assistance.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created Lifeline Assistance to help low-income people meet their communication needs.
So, by enrolling in Lifeline Assistance, you can get discounts on your voice, internet, texts, bundle service, etc.
While the FCC administers the program, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) monitors the eligibility requirements, application process, and benefit renewal.
Lifeline-eligible individuals can get free government flip phones for educational, healthcare, work, and social purposes.
Besides, Lifeline customers get a $9.25 discount on their monthly phone bill. Living on Tribal Lands means you’ll get a $34.25 monthly discount.
Qualification for Free Government Flip Phones Via Lifeline Assistance
Only those who meet the eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance can get a free government flip phone. That means they should have a household income up to a certain level or participate in a government assistance program.
This section provides a detailed outline of the eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance.
1. Income Under 135% of Poverty Guidelines
You can get a free government flip phone if your income is below 135% of poverty guidelines. Federal Poverty Guidelines change with time and vary from one state to another. That’s why you should always check the applicable guidelines in your state at any time.
For 2022, the following are the poverty guidelines and the resultant income thresholds based on the number of people in a household:
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 and the District of Columbia have uniform poverty guidelines, with a five-member household considered poor if it has a $32,470 annual income.
After factoring in the 135%, such a household would need an income under $43,835 to qualify for Lifeline Assistance. There is an additional $6,372 for every new family member.
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|
In Alaska, the poverty guidelines differ from the rest of the nation. Here, a five-member household is considered poor if its income is under $40,590.
To qualify for Lifeline Assistance, the household should have an income of up to $54,797. That means the income threshold increases by $7,965 for every new member.
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|
In Hawaii, a five-member household is poor if its income is below $37,350. But such a household can qualify for Lifeline Assistance with a $50,423 income limit. The annual income threshold increases by $7,330 with every new member.
2. Participation in Federal Assistance
The U.S. Federal Government has several programs that seek to make life bearable for low-income people. Participation in these programs gives you a head start when qualifying for Lifeline Assistance.
Here are some of the Lifeline Eligible Government Assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (section 8)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Survivor Pensions fund
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Reduced-price or free National School Lunch Program
- Federal Pell Grant (received by any household member in the current year)
- Tribal Head Start (for households with qualifying incomes)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
Besides meeting the eligibility criteria, you should be at least 18 years old to apply for Lifeline Assistance. Emancipated minors may also participate in Lifeline Assistance.
Documents Required to Apply for Free Government Flip Phones
The best way to get approval for one of the free government flip phones is by providing documents proving your eligibility. Also, you must prove your identity and address. The following are the various categories of documents you must provide together with the application form:
1. Proof-of-Income Documents
USAC officials want to see documents proving your income when assessing your Lifeline application. Remember to assemble official documents with the full legal names of the concerned individuals and the annual household incomes.
The following are examples of the acceptable proof-of-income documents when applying for Lifeline Assistance:
- Tax returns (Federal, Tribal, or state) for the previous year
- A Social Security benefits statement
- A current paycheck stub
- Employer income statement
- Veterans Administration benefits statement
- Worker’s Compensation or Unemployment benefits statement
- A pension/retirement benefits statement
- Divorce decree, child support award, or any other official document with annual income
2. Proof of Identity Documents
Applicants can only get free government flip phones if they present documents proving their identity. Ideally, it should be an official document with your name, social security number (SSN), age, and date of birth.
Therefore, any of the following documents should help you prove your identity:
- Birth Certificate
- U.S. Driver’s License
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- A valid Tribal, military, state, or government ID
- Permanent Resident Card or Green Card
- Federal Assistance Program Document
3. Address Verification Documents
Your physical address is part of the information that goes into your application for a free government flip phone. But it is not enough to state it. You must provide an official document proving that the address you provided is actually where you stay.
For that purpose, any of the following documents would do just fine:
- A valid state, Federal, military, or Tribal ID
- A current utility bill
- Driver’s License
- Lease or mortgage agreement
- Tax returns (Tribal, state, or Federal) or the most recent W-2
4. Proof of Benefit from Federal Assistance
An essential qualification criterion for Lifeline Assistance is the benefit of a Federal Assistance program. While there are many assistance programs, the documents required to prove your participation are similar.
Essentially, it should be an official document with the beneficiary’s name, the name of the concerned institution, and the issue date. It should be a current document that won’t expire in more than 12 months.
Any of the following documents can help you prove the benefit of a government assistance program:
- Approval letter
- Statement of benefits
- Benefit award letter
- Benefit verification letter
- School documentation
If you’re an emancipated minor, you must produce a certificate of emancipation or any court. These documents show that you no longer live under an adult.
The format in which you submit the documents depends on how you apply for Lifeline Assistance. For online applications, photos or PDF files of the documents are desirable. Otherwise, you should attach photocopied documents to a mail-in application.
How to Apply for Free Government Flip Phones Via Lifeline Assistance
You may apply for a Lifeline Assistance free government phone through three ways: online, mail-in, or service provider. Here is a detailed description of how you can go about your application:
1. Online Application
Online application for Lifeline Assistance happens on the National Verifier website, where you can also check your eligibility. Take the following process to hand in your application:
- Step 1: Visit the National Verifier Website.
- Step 2: Pick your home state and click Get Started.
- Step 3: You should get redirected to the official application form for Lifeline Assistance. Fill out the online form with the required information and attach documentation.
- Step 4: Keep pressing Next as you complete each page. When you finish, press Finish.
2. Mail-In Application
If you cannot send your application online, print it out, fill it out, and submit it via mail. All you need is to take the following process:
- Step 1: Go to the Lifeline Assistance website and print out the application form.
- Step 2: Fill out the application form with the necessary information.
- Step 3: Attach copies of the documents proving your identity, eligibility, and address.
- Step 4: Send the application form and copies of documents to the following address:
- Lifeline Support Center
- P.O Box 7082
- London, KY, 40742
After handing in your application, you should wait for approval from USAC. You’ll get a notification confirming your approval for a free government flip phone or the lack of it.
Then you should apply with a Lifeline Provider with free flip phones. But you must choose a suitable provider based on their availability in your area.
Lifeline Providers with Free Government Flip Phones
Many Lifeline providers are offering Android Smartphones in entry-level to mid-range models. Those offering free government flip phones are only a few and include the following:
1. AirTalk Wireless
AirTalk Wireless is one of the Lifeline providers with flip phones, Android phones, and iPhones. All Lifeline-eligible individuals can get a free flip phone if they successfully apply for it.
Here is how to apply for a free government flip phone from Lifeline Assistance:
- Step 1: Go to the AirTalk website and click Apply Now.
- Step 2: Enter your ZIP code on the website and click Apply Now again.
- Step 3: You should see the offer page for your state if AirTalk services are available in your area. Review the available plans, pick one, and click Apply Now.
- Step 4: Apply by filling out the online form and clicking Submit. AirTalk sends an email notification to those who get approved.
2. Cintex Wireless
Cintex Wireless is an AirTalk affiliate. The Lifeline provider offers a variety of free government devices such as flip phones, Android phones, and Apple iPhones.
Application for a free government flip phone is simple and requires you to go through the following steps:
- Step 1: Go to the Cintex Wireless website and click Apply Now.
- Step 2: Enter your ZIP code in the box to check if Cintex Wireless has services in your area.
- Step 3: If so, you should see a page with Cintex Wireless offers in your state. Select a service plan and continue with the application.
- Step 4: Fill out the online application form and click Submit when done.
3. enTouch Wireless
You can also get a flip phone from enTouch Wireless if you explicitly ask for it during the application process. The company will send you a 5.5-inch phone instead if you don’t.
Check out the enTouch Wireless Lifeline application process below:
- Step 1: Open the enTouch Wireless website and click Enroll Today.
- Step 2: In the pop-up window, select your home state, followed by a service plan.
- Step 3: Fill out the online Lifeline application form with the required information.
- Step 4: Attach necessary documents and click Submit.
4. NewPhone Wireless
NewPhone Wireless is one of the Lifeline providers with the government’s most comprehensive range of free phones. It offers flip phones, iPhones, and Android smartphones.
Here is how to apply for a flip phone from NewPhone Wireless:
- Step 1: Go to the NewPhone Wireless website and click Apply Now.
- Step 2: Enter your ZIP code in the box to check if NewPhone Wireless has services in your area.
- Step 3: If so, you should see a page with NewPhone Wireless offers in your state. Select a service plan and continue with the application.
- Step 4: Fill out the online application form and click Submit when done.
5. SafeLink Wireless
SafeLink Wireless has perhaps the most expansive network reach among the Lifeline providers with free flip phones. You only need to ask for a flip phone if you need one.
Apply for a SafeLink Wireless free government flip phone by taking the following steps:
- Step 1: Open the SafeLink Wireless website.
- Step 2: Enter your ZIP code and click Start to check if the services are available where you live.
- Step 3: That should redirect you to the online application form. Fill it out with the correct information.
- Step 4: Attach the necessary documents and click Submit.
TruConnect provides Lifeline phones and discounts nationwide. It mostly has Android smartphones but can offer you a flip phone if you ask.
You can enroll for Lifeline through TruConnect by taking the following steps:
- Step 1: Open the TruConnect Website.
- Step 2: Enter your email address and ZIP code to ascertain the availability of its services where you live.
- Step 3: Fill out the application form, follow the onscreen prompts, and click Submit.
Types of Free Government Flip Phones
There are many types of free government flip phones which you can get from any of the Lifeline providers listed above. Here are descriptions of some of the best flip phones from the government:
1. Alcatel Go Flip 4
The Alcatel Go Flip 4 is available from NewPhone Wireless. It features a 2.8-inch display, 4GB of ROM, 2MP rear video-capable camera, a 1850mAh battery, and 512MB of RAM.
Its bright, colorful screen displays large fonts. Besides, the phone has large buttons on a well-spaced keypad and is compatible with hearing aids.
2. Coolpad Belleza
You can get the Coolpad Belleza from AirTalk Wireless, Cintex Wireless, and NewPhone. It has a 2.8-inch display, 8GB of RAM, 1GB of ROM, and a 1500mAh battery.
The keypad is large with well-spaced buttons with large fonts. Other features include 4G LTE connectivity, simple navigation, high-quality audio, and a convenient, portable design.
3. Jitterbug Flip2
Jitterbug is a famous flip phone maker that mainly targets senior citizens. The Jitterbug Flip2 is one of the best free government flip phones around. It is easy to use and is hearing-aid compatible.
It has an emergency button that can send out an alert to loved ones or emergency services. Other features include large buttons, a bright display, a flashlight, a magnifier, Alexa compatibility, and a dual 8MP rear camera.
4. Kyocera DuraXE Epic
The Kyocera DuraXE Epic is a durable device with drop and waterproof capability. It is, therefore, suitable for clumsy seniors who are likely to keep dropping it.
Its features include large customizable buttons, noise cancellation, durable battery life, high-quality speakers, 16GB ROM, 4G capability, and a 5MP autofocus camera.
5. Nokia 2720 V Flip
The Nokia 2720 V Flip has many great features, including an SOS button, a long battery life, Google Assistant Capabilities, and hearing aid compatibility.
It also has large buttons and a large screen with an intuitive display. You can use it to make calls, browse the internet, and send texts.
6. Other Flip Phones
Besides the flip phones discussed above, the following are also available but not necessarily free of charge:
- Alcatel Go Flip 3
- Alcatel Go FlipV
- Cingular Flip iV
- Consumer Cellular Link II
- Coolpad SNAP
- Kazuna e Talk
- LG Exalt LTE
- Orbic Journey V
- Schok Classic Flip Phone
- TLC Flip Pro
The Bottom Line
You can get free government flip phones by applying for Lifeline Assistance and linking up with providers. Each phone comes with a monthly discount on your monthly phone service bill.
Flip phones are particularly suitable for senior citizens due to their large buttons, vivid displays, and emergency buttons.
People Also Ask
Yes, free government flip phones are good because they have features that make communication easier for senior citizens. They make it possible to contact emergency services and relatives when in need.
You can get a free government flip phone by applying for Lifeline Assistance. If you get approved, you’ll get a free phone and a discount on your monthly phone bill.
No, you may get a free government flip phone from any provider. However, the provider must offer services in your area for you to get the phone.