Did you know that you can get a free phone and service with food stamps? Several government-initiated programs are targeting unemployed people and those in low-income households with free phones and services.
Individuals can not only qualify for a free phone but also enjoy call, text, and internet services free of charge. This article discusses getting a free phone and service with food stamps. Read on for more information.
Government-Initiated Programs for Free Phones and Service
In recognition of the right and need for U.S. residents to communicate, the American government, through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), established the Lifeline Assistance program in 1980. The purpose of the program is to provide low-income households with free government phones.
In 2020, during the prolonged Covid-19 lockdown, the government instituted the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a temporary program to facilitate low-income families with the connectivity they needed in uncertain times.
Through the lifeline program, participating network carriers offer discounted cellular wireless services. A good number of the network carriers also offer free or discounted mobile phones to those eligible for the Lifeline and EBB programs.
Furthermore, participants in the Food Stamp Program are eligible for free phones and services under the Lifeline and EBB programs. All you need to know is how to get a free phone and service with food stamps.
Should You Get a Free Phone and Service with Food Stamps
Residents of America participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps qualify for free phones through the Lifeline Assistance or EBB programs. You can enjoy free or discounted wireless services, including calls, texts, and data, apart from a free phone.
While some network carriers in the Lifeline program offer discounted wireless services, others provide free or discounted cellular phones as a bonus. Lifeline providers may not provide the same types of phones.
In most cases, the phones on offer are mid-range smartphones, with a few cases in which high-end devices are offered. So, you can get a high-end mobile phone through the lifeline program, depending on your state.
How to Get a Free Phone and Service with Food Stamps
Getting a free phone and service through SNAP requires going through a simple process. Here are the steps you must take:
Step 1: Ascertain Your Eligibility
You need to be eligible for the Lifeline or EBB programs to qualify for a free phone and service through food stamps. While Lifeline Assistance has been around for decades targeting low-income households, EBB is more recent.
The FCC has set criteria you must meet to be eligible for the Lifeline program. All wireless network providers must assess individuals using the following criteria:
- Income up to 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, and specific Tribal Programs.
For the EBB program, applicants should meet the criteria for the Lifeline Assistance program. However, from March 1, 2022, the EBB program morphed into the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Conditions to qualify for the ACP include the following;
- Income up to 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Participation in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental food program
- Recipients of a Federal Pell Grant in the last 12 months
Step 2: Verification Through the National Verifier
You cannot judge whether or not you’re eligible for a free phone and service with Food Stamps. Get verified through the National Verifier, which provides a centralized application system for determining an individual’s eligibility for Lifeline.
You may or may not get an okay from the NV to participate in the Lifeline Program. If you’re deemed eligible, look for an ACP or Lifeline provider providing network services in your state. Ideally, they should offer free cellular phones.
Step 3: Contact the Lifeline Provider
Once you find a network carrier offering free government phones near you, contact them. They should explain to you how and the requirements to apply for a free phone through them.
Most network carriers have websites through which you can complete the application. The customer support staff should direct you there and tell you the documents you need to provide to prove identity and eligibility.
After providing the necessary information, give the network carrier time to process your application. In a few days, they should inform you about the status of your application. If you qualify for a free government phone, they should inform you what steps you should follow.
How Can I Qualify for Food Stamps
Not everyone can qualify for SNAP. Those who meet the laid down federal rules on household income may participate in the Food Stamp Program. Here are the eligibility criteria for SNAP:
- Assets worth $2,500 or less for households without an older adult, 60 years or older
- Assets worth $3,750 or less for households with an older person, 60 years or older
- Household net income below the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Household net income below 130% of Federal Poverty Guidelines
Sometimes, you might not qualify for SNAP because you meet the criteria above. Individuals get disqualified from SNAP if they fall in any of the following categories:
- People on strike
- Unauthorized immigrants
- Some authorized immigrants
- Students attending college for at least half the time
If you’re a childless unemployed adult without any disability, you can only get food stamps every three years in most states.
5 Best Providers That Offering a Free Phone & Service with Food Stamps
You can get a free phone and service with food stamps from any participating network carriers. The following are the ones that quickly come to mind:
1) Q Link Wireless
Q Link Wireless is one of the most popular network carriers participating in the Lifeline Assistance program for free government phones. It has offices all over the country, which you can visit or reach out to them via its official website.
The application may involve submitting your information in person or online. After that, Q Link will assess the application to determine if you should get a free phone. The company’s customer support may invite you for an interview. After two weeks or so, it will either deliver your phone or invite you to pick it.
2) Tag Mobile
Tag Mobile is a leading Lifeline provider in the U.S, offering free government phones, discounted text, minutes, and internet services to individuals in low-income families. Even though located in Dallas, Texas, the company operates in other states.
It has certain conditions that determine the eligibility criteria based on your home state. Also, the benefits you get for qualifying for Food stamps may vary from state to state. Several phones work well with their services, including CellAllure Fashion2Plus Black/Gold, CellAllure Miracle-S, CellAllure FashionC, and CellAllure CoolDuo Black.
3) Safelink Wireless
Safelink Wireless provides free landline phones to seniors all over the United States. Applicants can qualify for the Safelink Wireless free phone services by participating in a Federal Government assistance program. Participants in the Food Stamps program can also qualify for a free phone from Safelink Wireless.
You need to go to the company’s official website to complete an application for a free phone and service. Before applying, you should attach the necessary documents to authenticate SNAP participation and income details. Safelink Wireless would assess your application based on these documents.
4) Centex Wireless
Centex Wireless is a participant in the Lifeline Assistance and ACP programs. It offers free mobile phones and wireless services to many states, including Rhode Island, Arkansas, West Virginia, Maryland, and Maine. Applicants in the ACP program may also qualify for a free government tablet.
You can apply for a free phone by visiting the company’s official website, where you will fill in your email, ID, and ZIP code. Centex Wireless would also require you to provide other information and documentation proving your eligibility.
5) Standup Wireless
Standup Wireless is a network carrier that provides free phones and affordable prepaid services via the Lifeline and ACP programs. They offer free or discounted text, call, and data plans with variations based on your state. In some states, eligible applicants get a free phone.
You can apply by visiting the company’s official website. To check the availability of free phones in your area, enter your ZIP code and email address. You can also call Standup Wireless customer support at 1-800-544-4441 for help with the application process. If you choose to send your application via email, print out and fill out the application for Lifeline Assistance. Attach the necessary documents when sending them in.
The Bottom Line
Low-income individuals can get a free phone and service with food stamps and stay connected with their friends and family. Eligible individuals should be enrolled in the SNAP program. They would then access free phones through government-initiated programs like Lifeline Assistance and ACP.
Applications for the program are possible directly through the network carriers. So, applicants need to identify a network carrier through which they would make the application. If you’re on the Food Stamps program, don’t hesitate to send your application.