Do you live in Ohio and need a free government phone? Residents of Ohio can get a free government phone from any telephone companies participating in Lifeline Assistance and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
The federal government partners with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to finance Lifeline Assistance in the state. In addition to a free phone, low-income families and senior citizens get discounted monthly phone services.
Qualifying individuals can get free landlines, cell phones, tablets, and other wireless devices. The government may also pay connection or installation fees for all eligible individuals.
This article discusses getting a free government phone in Ohio to help state residents gauge their eligibility status and apply for it.
What Is Lifeline Assistance
Lifeline Assistance is a government program established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), targeting low-income individuals and households. Qualified individuals get a free government phone and discounted phone service.
A select group of telephone companies offer to Ohio residents that meet the Lifeline Assistance eligibility criteria. For example, applicants should have a household income below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Lifeline Assistance provides one free government phone Ohio to each qualifying household. Eligible beneficiaries must renew their Lifeline Assistance enrollment annually to enjoy the benefit.
Through Lifeline, you get a $9.25 (or $34.25 on Tribal lands) discount on your monthly phone service. Each household receives only one value on a wired or wireless phone service. Additionally, you may get a broadband internet service or broadband voice bundles.
What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is another government initiative targeting low-income households with affordable or free phone services. It replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which the FCC established to cushion those who had lost incomes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qualified households may also get a free government phone through a participating network provider. The application process involves filling out a form and submitting the necessary eligibility documents.
Eligibility criteria are either income-based or on account of your participation in a government assistance program. Each household can only get one ACP benefit.
The ACP offers a $30 (or $75 for Tribal lands) discount for phone services to qualifying individuals or households. Some ACP providers have a one-time $100 deal for an internet-connected desktop, laptop, or tablet. However, you can use the $100 to get a good smartphone.
How to Qualify for a Free Government Phone in Ohio
The FCC and the government of Ohio have established stringent eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance and ACP. So, you can only get a free government phone in Ohio if you meet all the conditions set for the programs. The following are the different ways to qualify for the program:
1. Income-Based Qualification
Applicants for Lifeline Assistance should have an income of at most 150% of federal poverty guidelines. This is not individual but household income. In Ohio, the qualifying income limits are outlined in the table below:
|No. of persons in a family or household||Total Household Income (150% of Poverty Guidelines)|
|9 or more||$7,380 for each additional household member|
You can qualify for the ACP program automatically by enrolling in Lifeline Assistance. However, your household income should be below 200% of the prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines. Here is an outline of the income limits that can qualify you for ACP, based on the number of household members:
|No. of persons in a family or household||Total Household Income (200% of Poverty Guidelines)|
|9 or more||$9,440 for each additional household member|
2. Beneficiary of Government Assistance
Apart from meeting the income-based threshold, you can get a free government phone in Ohio if you or a household member benefits from a government assistance program. The following are some of the government assistance programs that qualify you for a free government phone:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Section 8 Housing Vouchers
- SSDI for the blind
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Ohio Works First (TANF)
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (for ACP only)
- Pell Grant Award for the previous year (ACP only)
- Free or Reduced-Price School Breakfast Program or Lunch Program (for ACP only)
- SSI Disability Assistance
3. Beneficiary of Tribal Lands Government Assistance
Residents of Ohio living on Tribal Lands may also qualify for a free government if they participate in specific assistance programs. The following are the Tribal Lands-only programs for whose participation you can get a free phone from the government:
- Tribal Head Start
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
How to Apply for Free Government Phone Ohio
Did you know that you can get a free government phone in Ohio through a simple application process? Here is how to apply for a free phone if you’re a resident of Ohio:
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility
First, ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance and the ACP. This article has the eligibility criteria in the sections above. Your household income should be below 150% and 200% below Federal Poverty Guidelines for Lifeline Assistance and ACP, respectively.
If you’re unsure about your eligibility status, check via the National Verifier. The Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) operates the National Verifier to help people check eligibility for different government programs. USAC also operates Lifeline Assistance.
Enter the required information and press Search. The website should provide a report confirming whether or not you qualify for the program. If you are eligible, you can go on with your application for a free government phone in Ohio.
Step 2: Choose a Lifeline and ACP Provider
Choose a service provider that can give you a free government phone under Lifeline Assistance or ACP. While some companies offer the full range of Lifeline benefits, others may only provide part. So, you must pick a Lifeline Assistance or ACP provider that meets your needs.
After selecting a Lifeline Assistance/ACP provider, you must ascertain if their network reaches your area. On the network carrier’s website, enter your ZIP code and search. If it’s okay, apply for a free government phone in Ohio.
Step 3: Collect All Necessary Documents
Next, you should collect all the documents you’ll need to attach to your application before sending it. The documents help you prove your identity, address, and eligibility. The following are the various categories of documents to collect:
You must prove your identity when applying for a free government phone in Ohio. You only need one of the following documents:
- Social Security Number
- U.S. Passport
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Driver’s License
- U.S Government, State, Military, or Tribal-Issued ID
- Birth Certificate
- Foreign Passport
Regardless of your network carrier, you must supply your address with documents proving it. The network carrier needs to be sure that it will reach you with billing and other correspondence in the future. Here are some of the documents you can use to prove your address:
- Current Utility Bill
- Driver’s License
- Existing Mortgage or Lease Statement
- Current Paycheck Stub Income Statement, or W2
- Tribal, State, or Federal-Issued ID
Is your eligibility for a free government income-based? In that case, it’s not enough to state it in your application. Instead, you should provide documentation showing how much income you make annually. The following are the standard proof-of-income documents:
- Tribal, state, or federal tax returns for the previous year
- Social security benefits statement
- Current employer’s paycheck stub or income statement
- Worker’s compensation benefits statement
- Veterans Administration benefits statement
- Child support or divorce decree documents
- Pension or retirement benefits statement
Proof of Benefit from Government Assistance
Do you or a household member benefit from government assistance? Whether the government assistance program helps everyone in your household or a child at school, you should provide documentation. The following are some of the documents you should collect:
- A Tribal, state, or federal program statement for the previous or current year
- A letter showing participation in a Tribal, state, or federal program
- Other documents proving participation in a Tribal, state, or federal program
- A document with your name, program name, and the issuing Tribal, state, or federal
In Ohio, you can get a free government phone if you are an emancipated minor. However, you must provide a court order or certificate of emancipation proving the same. Also, offer proof-of-address documents with the exact details you have in your application.
Step 4: Apply for a Free Government Phone Ohio
After ascertaining eligibility and collecting all the necessary documents, it’s time to fill out your application for a free government phone. All providers have an online portal through which you can apply for a free phone. So, check with your favorite providers.
Alternatively, you may print the application form and fill it out. After attaching proof-of-eligibility documents, you can submit your application via mail. You may obtain your network carrier’s address from their website.
You may also complete your application by contacting the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio at +1-800-686-7826. That state body regulates Lifeline Assistance and should address all your questions. Support staff can also answer your questions on Lifeline assistance after enrolling.
Here are the full contact details for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio:
- Address: 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43215.
- Main: +1-614-466-3016
- Toll-Free: +1-800-686-7826
- Complaint: +1-614-466-3292
- Website: https://puco.ohio.gov/
Attach only copies of the proof-of-eligibility documents and not the originals. For the online application, all you need are photos of the original documents. Otherwise, if you mail-in applications, photocopies should suffice.
Step 5: Wait for Approval and Phone Delivery
It may take a few days for your provider to approve your application. Once that happens, the carrier will send an email notification. If it delays too much, you can contact your provider’s customer service through the established channels.
Don’t be in a hurry! It takes between seven and ten business days for network carriers to ship free government phones to approved applicants. Yours should arrive in the mail within that time.
The 11 Best Providers of Free Government Phone in Ohio
If you’re looking for a reliable free government phone provider in Ohio, you have come to the right place. There are several companies whose sole purpose is to get low-income families connected. They include the following:
1. Access Wireless
The Access Wireless Lifeline plan offers 3GB of data free, 250 minutes of talk-time, and unlimited texts. There’s an option for a free government phone, which you can upgrade in subsequent years.
You can apply by visiting the Access Wireless website, entering your ZIP code, and clicking Learn More. Then Click Enroll and fill out the application form.
On the other hand, the Access Wireless Lifeline + ACP plan avails free monthly phone service with 15GB of high-speed data, unlimited talk-time, and unlimited texts. After applying on the company’s website, you may also get a free government phone.
You can reach out to Access Wireless customer support through the website or call them at 1-888-900-5859 for new customers or 1-866-594-3644 for existing customers. Below is the company’s physical website:
- Access Wireless/i-Wireless LLC
- 1 Levee Way Newport
- Kentucky, 41071
- United States
2. Assurance Wireless
Assurance Wireless offers 3GB of data, 350 minutes talk-time, and free unlimited texts for Lifeline Assistance customers. Additionally, you get a free government phone. Unfortunately, you can’t choose a device. Assurance Wireless does it for you.
You can submit your application by visiting the Assurance Wireless website, entering your ZIP code, and clicking Apply Now.
The combined Lifeline and ACP plan provides 10GB of hotspot data, unlimited high-speed data, unlimited talk time, and unlimited texts. That’s on top of a free government phone.
You can reach out to Assurance Wireless customer support in any of the following ways:
- Phone: 1-888-321-5880
- Email: [email protected]
- Assurance Wireless,
- P.O Box 5040,
- Charleston, IL 61920-9907
3. American Assistance
Besides a free government phone, American Assurance Lifeline Assistance offers 3GB of data, 500 minutes of talk time, and unlimited texts. You can apply for the program by visiting the American Assurance website and clicking Apply Online.
The company also offers an ACP-only plan with free unlimited talk-time, texts, and 10GB of data. Those wishing to apply for the ACP discount should go to the website.
The American Assurance customer support contacts are listed below:
- Phone: 1-877-266-7212
- Email: [email protected]
- Fax: 1-877-211-3705
- American Assistance
- One Seagate
- Suite 600,
- Toledo, OH 43604
4. enTouch Wireless
Lifeline qualified users get a $10 discount on their phone plans. Those who can’t pay and are eligible can get free service that involves 100MB of data, 1,000 minutes of talk-time, and unlimited texts. For Tribal residents, enTouch Wireless offers 5GB of data, 1,000 minutes of talk-time, and unlimited texts. You can apply for Lifeline Assistance via the enTouch website by clicking Apply Now.
The enTouch Lifeline + ACP plan for Ohio includes unlimited data, talk-time, and texts for those living on Tribal Lands. People in other areas get 10GB of data, unlimited talk time, and unlimited texts. You can apply for the Lifeline + ACP plan via the company’s website.
It only offers ACP-only plans for 15.5GB of data, unlimited texts, and unlimited talk-time for Tribal Lands. Those living outside Tribal Lands get 5.5GB of data, Unlimited talk time, and unlimited texts.
The following are the contacts on which you can reach out to enTouch customer service:
- Phone: 1-866-488-8719
- Online contact form: https://www.entouchwireless.com/contact
- Email: [email protected]
- enTouch Wireless,
- P.O Box 37,
- Hiawatha, IA 52233
5. FeelSafe Wireless
The FeelSafe Wireless Lifeline Plan includes 3GB of data, 500 texts, and 1,000 minutes of talk-time. You also get a free government phone Ohio from FeelSafe Wireless. By clicking Apply Online, you can apply for the free phone and phone plan via the FeelSafe Wireless website.
It also has a Lifeline + ACP and an ACP-only plan, with free unlimited texts, talk-time, and MMS. The ACP-only program offers 6GB of data for $30, while the combined Lifeline and ACP plan provides 15GB of data for $50.
The company’s customer service contacts are listed below:
- Phone: 1-877-247-7799
- FeelSafe Wireless,
- 2425 Franklin,
- Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
6. Life Wireless
Life Wireless has a dedicated Lifeline plan that offers 3GB of data, 1,000 minutes talk-time, and unlimited texts. Of course, you also have the chance to get a free government phone. If you qualify, you can apply via the Life Wireless website, enter your ZIP code and email address, and click Start Now.
The ACP-only plan offers 15GB of data, unlimited texts, and unlimited talk time. You can also opt into the plan through the website. The combined ACP and Lifeline plan comes with 15GB of data, unlimited texts, unlimited talk-time, and a free government phone.
You can reach out to the company’s customer support agents Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 6.00 pm on the following contacts:
- Phone: 1-888-543-3620
- Email: [email protected]
- Online form: https://www.lifewireless.com/contactus
- Life Wireless,
- P.O Box 2840,
- Covington, GA 30015
7. Q Link Wireless
The Q Link Wireless Lifeline plan offers 3GB of data, 1,000 minutes, and unlimited data. It also offers the perfect chance to get a free government phone. Q Link Wireless chooses for you a device from several entry-level options. You may upgrade your phone for $25. You can apply for the program on the Q Link Wireless website by clicking Get My Free Phone Service.
If you get the Lifeline and ACP combo, you will get unlimited data, unlimited texts, and unlimited calls. You may also get a free phone via Lifeline or tablet via ACP. You can enrol via the website.
If you have an issue, you can contact customer support Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 6.00 pm EST via the following means:
- Phone: 1-855-754-6543
- Online form: https://qlinkwireless.com/members/support.aspx
- Fax: 1-855-837-5465
- Q Link Wireless,
- 499 E Sheridan ST #400,
- Diana Beach, FL 33004
8. SafeLink Wireless
The SafeLink Wireless Lifeline plan offers 3GB of data, 350 minutes, and unlimited texts besides a free government phone in Ohio. Apply to the SafeLink website, enter your ZIP code, and click Start.
The company also has an ACP and Lifeline Combo plan offering free monthly service with 25GB of data, 5GB of hotspot data, unlimited texts, unlimited talk-time, a free smartphone, and free calls to Canada and Mexico. You can opt for the plan by going to the website.
If you have an issue to raise with SafeLink customer support, you can reach them in any of the following ways:
- Phone: 1-800-723-3546
- Find a local dealer: https://www.safelink.com/wps/portal/home/retailers
- SafeLink Wireless,
- P.O Box 220009,
- Milwaukie, OR 97269-0009
9. StandUp Wireless
StandUp Wireless has a Lifeline plan that offers 3GB of data, unlimited texts, and 300 minutes. There are several top-ups, including $5 for 250 minutes and 250MB of data, $10 for 1GB of data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts.
There is also a $20 plan for 3GB of data, unlimited texts, and unlimited minutes. Finally, you can pay $30 for 8GB of data, unlimited texts, and unlimited minutes. Application for the plan is simple and can happen via the StandUp Wireless website by clicking Apply Now. The ACP and Lifeline Combo offers 10GB of data, unlimited texts, and unlimited talk.
The StandUp Wireless customer support is available Monday to Saturday between 8.00 am and 10.00 pm EST and Sunday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. Here are the various ways to lodge your complaint:
- Phone: 1-800-544-4441
- Sales Inquiry: [email protected]
- Email: [email protected]
- StandUp Wireless,
- P.O Box 2148,
- Norcross, GA 30091
With the TruConnect Lifeline plan, you get 3GB of data, unlimited texts, and 1,000 minutes of talk-time. You also get unlimited calls to selected foreign countries. To get a free government phone in Ohio, go to the TruConnect website, and enter your email address and ZIP code. Click Apply Now.
The TruConnect Lifeline and ACP combo plan include 12.5GB of data, Wi-Fi hotspot data, unlimited texts, and unlimited minutes. If you choose the ACP-only plan, you’ll get 8GB of data and an android smartphone.
If you have an issue, you can reach the TruConnect customer service Monday to Saturday from 5.00 am to 9.00 pm PST. Here are the various ways of contacting customer service:
- Phone: 1-800-430-0443
- Online form: https://www.truconnect.com/broadband
- Find local dealers: https://www.truconnect.com/locations
11. Tempo Communications
Tempo Communications has a free Lifeline bundle with 3GB of data, unlimited texts, and unlimited monthly minutes. The same package also offers a free government phone to help you connect with your friends or family members.
For $5, you get 250 minutes of talk-time, $10 for 500MB of data, and $15 for 1GB of data and 1,000 minutes. If you have an issue, you can contact customer support Monday to Friday from 7.00 am to 5.00 pm. The following are the channels of communication:
- Phone: 1-888-565-1011 or 1-877-822-8201
- Tempo Communications,
- 1390 Aspen Way,
- Vista, CA 92081
The Bottom Line
Getting a free government phone in Ohio is easier if you meet Lifeline Assistance and ACP criteria. If you qualify, you can easily apply for the phone via the provider’s website, in-store, mail, or the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
There are several Lifeline and ACP providers in Ohio. So, you must always choose one that meets your needs. Once you sign up, you’ll get a free government phone and a free or discounted phone service.