Do you need a free touch screen government phone? If you cannot afford a smartphone, you can get one courtesy of the government. But you have to qualify for the phone via Lifeline Assistance.
Lifeline Assistance has so far availed millions of phones to low-income families. You could ask, “How do I get free touch screen government phones?” This article provides all the answers you need.
What Is Lifeline Assistance?
Lifeline Assistance is a program by the Federal Government to provide free phones and free or subsidized phone service to qualifying individuals. Besides essential feature phones, the program offers touch screen phones for crucial communication.
The FCC distributes free smartphones through Lifeline partner network carriers. When it was started in 1985, Lifeline Assistance covered landline phone services but has since upgraded to smartphones.
You can get a free touch screen government phone as an individual or a household. Lifeline Assistance allows only one phone per household regardless of how you get it. Additionally, you’ll enjoy a free or discounted phone service.
The benefits of Lifeline Assistance are perpetual and will continue as long as your financial situation warrants your participation in it. Besides a free touch screen government phone, the network carrier reduces your monthly phone bill or cuts it completely.
Other benefits of getting a free touchscreen government phone include the following:
- No hidden fees
- Freedom to choose a wireless provider
- No-contract phone plans
- Easy application process
How Do I Get Free Touch Screen Government Phones
Free touchscreen government phones are available for those who qualify for Lifeline Assistance. Eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance include benefits from government assistance, low-income status, and living on tribal lands. Here is how to get a free touchscreen government phone via Lifeline Assistance:
1. Benefit from Government Assistance
If you or a family member is a government assistance beneficiary, you’re eligible for a free smartphone. So, you can apply for one free smartphone for your household, depending on your location.
Here are government assistance programs through which you qualify for a free smartphone from the government:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- National School Lunch (NSL) or Free Lunch Program
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Plan
2. Low-Income Status
Besides government assistance benefits, you can get a free government smartphone if you have a low income. You must prove that your income is below 135% of the Federal Government Poverty Guidelines.
So, if you live alone, you should show that your annual income is under $12,760 annually. You’ll pay $4,480 for every additional member if you’re many in your house. That makes it easier for you to qualify compared to living alone.
3. Tribal Land Residents
If you live on a Tribal Land, you can get a free government smartphone from your favorite network carrier. However, you must participate in any programs that qualify you for Lifeline Assistance. Here are some of the eligible Tribal Assistance programs to qualify you for the program:
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Federal Head Start
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
States Offering Free Touchscreen Government Phones
You can get free government smartphones in 49 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. While the eligibility criteria vary, the requirements are the same. The following are the states where you can get a free Lifeline smartphone:
|District of Columbia||Florida||Georgia||Hawaii|
|Nevada||New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico|
|New York||North Carolina||North Dakota||Ohio|
|Rhode Island||South Carolina||South Dakota||Tennessee|
How to Apply for Free Touch Screen Government Phones
Regardless of where you live in the U.S., you can apply for free touch screen government phones. You must go to the network carrier’s website to complete the application. The process involves filling out an application form and attaching proof-of-eligibility documents.
The following are the steps you must take to complete your application for a free smartphone from the government:
Step 1: Ascertain Your Eligibility
Checking your eligibility for a free touchscreen government phone is the first step in the process. Regardless of how you qualify for a free smartphone courtesy of low-income status, government assistance, or tribal assistance, you should check for eligibility via the National Verifier.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) operates the National Verifier website. You only need to enter your details, click Search, and get feedback on your eligibility status. After ascertaining your eligibility, you can move on with the application.
Step 2: Choose a Lifeline Assistance Provider
In every state, there’s at least one Lifeline Assistance provider. Choose the one you believe can offer you the best services. Look for features such as free or discounted talk, texts, and data services. Once you’ve settled on a service provider, go to their website and complete the application.
Step 3: Apply for Free Touch Screen Government Phones
Now that you have ascertained your eligibility and chosen a Lifeline Assistance provider, apply for a free touchscreen government phone. Open the provider’s website and select Lifeline. In the drop-down menu, click Enroll.
Please fill out the Lifeline Assistance application form and submit it. Alternatively, you can fill out a physical form if you visit your network carrier in-store. Some providers also have an email address and fax number to which you can attach the completed form.
Step 4: Attach Proof-of-Eligibility Documents
Your application isn’t complete until you’ve attached documents proving eligibility for a free touch screen government phone. You can complete online applications by taking photos of the documents and attaching them. For in-store applications, remember to photocopy and attach the documents. Avoid sending original documents since you might need them later!
The following are some of the documents that go with an application for a free government smartphone:
1. Proof-of-Identity Documents
Identity documents are helpful in proving that it is you, not an impersonator, applying for a free government smartphone. Without it, your application can’t see the light of day. You can attach any of the following documents to prove your identity:
- Driving license
- Birth certificate
- A state-issued photo ID
- Certificate of naturalization
- U.S. permanent resident card
- Social security card
- Certificate of U.S. citizenship
- Military discharge documentation
2. Proof of Income
You must attach the right documents proving you qualify for low-income status. The documents should help you prove that you make only 13% of prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines. You may submit any of the following documents:
- Three latest pay stubs
- Unemployment benefits claim
- Employer-generated statement of annual income
- Social security benefits documentation
- Tax returns for the previous financial year
- Divorce decree
- Child support documentation
For your application to be valid, you must provide income documents for at least three months in the last one-year payment period.
3. Proof of Benefit from Government or Tribal Assistance
If you benefit from government or Tribal assistance, you must provide documentation proving the same. It could be a document concerning you or any of your family members. The document should contain the name of the BQP (benefit qualifying person) and program. It should also indicate the school, school district, college, university, a tribal entity, program administrator, or government issuing the document. The document shouldn’t be more than 12 months old since its issuance.
Step 5: Wait for a Free Touch Screen Government Phone
Just because you’re eligible for free touchscreen government phones won’t prevent the network carrier from scrutinizing your application. Upon approval of the application, you should receive a phone call from the network carrier informing you about it.
However, you could wait for days or weeks before your smartphone gets delivered via mail. But having the phone doesn’t give you a license to be complacent. From time to time, check eligibility, especially after every 12 months.
If your income increases and you stop benefitting from government or Tribal assistance, the network carrier could cancel the free or subsidized talk time, texts, and data service.
Rules Governing Eligibility for Free Touch Screen Government Phones
Getting free touch screen government phones involves other rules besides those for eligibility. If you don’t stick to the rules, you might fail to get a free smartphone even if you qualify. Here are some rules you must keep in mind:
1. One Household, One Phone
You can only get one phone per household through Lifeline Assistance. Owning more than one phone is fraud and can lead to losing all the phones in your possession. So, you must agree in your household who should get the phone.
2. Annual Eligibility Checks
Be sure to run annual eligibility checks for participation in Lifeline assistance. You can retain eligibility for free or discounted phone services by re-certifying your qualification. If you fail to review participation in Lifeline Assistance, you’ll lose your phone and any other benefits.
3. Always Respond to Provider Requests for Re-Approval
Forgetting is normal! But failure to respond to your provider’s reminder to renew eligibility is unforgivable. Out of your ignorance, the network provider may repossess the free touch screen government phone. So, always be on the lookout for these reminders.
The Bottom Line
Free touch screen government phones are available to those who qualify to participate in Lifeline Assistance. By applying for a free smartphone via a Lifeline provider, you can get a suitable device that enables you to connect to the internet.
The application process is straightforward. After getting approved for a free government smartphone, you might have to wait a while before receiving your device in the mail. It usually comes with free or subsidized talk, texts, and data services.
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Frequently Asked Questions
You can apply for a free touch screen government phone on your network carrier’s website. After ascertaining your eligibility, you should go ahead and fill out the online application phone. Otherwise, you can visit your network carrier in-store and apply for a free smartphone. Be sure to attach all the required documents.
You can renew your free government phone service if you participate in Lifeline Assistance by re-certifying your eligibility every 12 months. If your income improves, you can no longer participate in the program. Failure to renew might give your provider the excuse to switch off the service. Sometimes, the provider may remind you to restore the service. But don’t waste time waiting for a reminder.
If for some reason, your accessible touchscreen government remains inactive for over 60 days, your network carrier will deem it dormant and repossess it. That’s according to the rules of Lifeline Assistance. However, if your phone breaks down for no reason, inform the provider and ask for a replacement device.
Free touch screen government phones are available in all U.S. states. However, the providers may vary depending on your location. Be sure to check out the Lifeline Assistance providers in your state and choose one that works for you. You can then go ahead and submit your application either online or in-store.
Yes. Free touchscreen government phones are free. However, the phone service, including talk-time, texts, and data might not be 100% free. That’s because some providers give a free service while others don’t. Besides, only low-income people get free government phones. If your income exceeds 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines, you may get a discounted but not entirely free smartphone.
Yes, the government gives free iPhones, depending on the Lifeline provider. So, if you have an income of less than 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines or benefit from government assistance, you should apply for an iPhone. But that’s contingent on your Lifeline provider and your place of residence. So, check before applying.