A free government phone is usually one of the components of the Lifeline program by the federal government. The Lifeline service seeks to assist people from poor households to afford communication services. We all know that there are people who struggle with even their daily food. Such people cannot even afford a decent phone to link with friends and family. Every state ensures that such people get the necessary help. Today, I will show you how to get a free government phone in Florida.
Florida has many people living under the poverty line, and since poverty guideline is one of the qualifications factors, such people can benefit from the Lifeline program. That means one can get a free phone plus a discounted monthly plan to communicate with others. Florida also has what they call Florida KidCare, whereby people of 19 years and below can apply to benefit from the service.
Beneficiaries of the Lifeline program need to pass all the qualification guidelines before getting the aid. There are various programs that one can use to qualify for the Lifeline. For example, the Florida Medicaid Program is one of the best programs to benefit the poor and offers free quality healthcare to families living under one dollar per day. We will also see other qualifying programs later on.
What is Lifeline?
Lifeline is a federal government program that seeks to give help to people living under the poverty line. In collaboration with the state governments, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the program in 1984 during the Ronald Reagan rule to help low-income households with low-cost landline options.
The FCC also involved the telecommunications companies when coming up with the plan to see the eligible beneficiaries get free government smartphones. While FCC is the founder of The Lifeline program, it is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
Every beneficiary gets a free phone and benefits from discounted telephone services, broadband internet service, or even bundled voice-broadband packages depending on what someone chooses.
The Lifeline program gives you up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for qualifying low-income customers and up to $34.25/mo per month for the beneficiaries living in Tribal lands. Beneficiaries may also receive a Lifeline discount on either a wireline or a wireless service, but one may not receive a discount on both services simultaneously.
The free government phones by state combine with the discounted plans to offer you the best services ever. The program only benefits a single person in a household. Others can depend on the particular beneficiary to get the necessary communication allowance. Also, you cannot transfer the service to someone else as it is illegal.
Here, a household means people living together in a single physical address. Sometimes several households can live in one physical address. Furthermore, you cannot get the service from more than one service provider. As a Lifeline beneficiary, you need to choose your service provider. That can be your current service provider or decide to apply via another carrier.
How to qualify for Lifeline in Florida
Getting government aid is not easy as you have to undergo thorough scrutiny from the relevant authorities. To get a free government cell phone in Florida, you must meet the general qualification requirements. The following is how you can qualify for the Lifeline program.
- One must have income that is at 135% or below according to the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Participate in any of the specific federal assistance programs. These include;
- Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
- Certain Tribal Programs.
Remember that either of the above programs can qualify you for the Lifeline program. You can even get free phone food stamps in Florida if you only benefit from the Florida Lifeline.
If you want to qualify, you can check your qualifications from the National Verifier application system. The National Verifier is a centralized system created by the FCC and run by USAC that verifies Lifeline applicants and recertifies consumer eligibility annually. Consumers who would like help from a service provider during the application process can use the “Companies Near Me” tool to find a Lifeline program service provider in their vicinity.
How to apply for the free government phone in Florida
If you have found out that you qualify for the program, you can proceed to apply. Nowadays, the program has been upgraded and now beneficiaries can receive free touch screen government phones to use with the discounted plans other than the button phones of before.
To apply, you have to contact your service provider, who will give you additional information about applying. Service providers allow you to apply for the services online at their Lifeline application pages.
The state of Florida can also help you to apply for the service if your service provider is AT&T, Verizon, Century Link, Assurance Wireless, or T-Mobile. You only need to Call 1-800-540-7039 to get more information. Furthermore, you can visit the Public Service Commission office and get assistance with your application.
Which companies participate in the Florida Lifeline service?
Numerous cellular companies are offering the Lifeline program in Florida. The companies serve all eligible people despite their age. Therefore, the companies have free cell phones for seniors in Florida so that those older people can get cheap communication connections.
I had mentioned earlier that the major telecommunication companies such as AT&T Florida, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint are currently offering Lifelines in Florida. We also have other smaller companies which are also offering the services. They include the following.
- Access Wireless
- Nexus Communications TSI
- Tele Circuit Network
- Global Connections Inc. of America FairPoint Communications
- The sun-Tel USA
- Cox Communications
Most of these small companies rely on the cellular towers of the major telecommunication companies. You can be sure that even if you apply for the service through them, you will still receive a strong connection. And by the way, the Florida Lifeline cell phones are similar to other states since Lifeline is universal to Americans.
Can I upgrade my Lifeline cell phone?
Everyone has to upgrade their phone at a particular time. The Lifeline program allows you to upgrade your phone when you think that you want a new device. There are reasons why people upgrade their phones. They include;
- To get high-resolution cameras
- Get high-capacity batteries
- Faster connectivity, e.g., 4G and 5G
- Large screen
- Large storage memories
Some people may also upgrade their phones to more expensive brands such as iPhone, Samsung, Oppo, or LG. However, upgrading a Lifeline smartphone comes at a price. Specific carriers will always indicate to you the amount of money you need to upgrade your device.
During upgrading, you have to move your files and contacts to the new phone. Transferring files by Bluetooth is common, although you can use a computer to copy files from one device to another. The fact that you got a free government cell phone for low income does not guarantee you to keep receiving free phones now and then. There are still other new applicants every year who would like to benefit from the program.
Does the Lifeline program allow you to apply for the Emergency Benefits Program (EBB)?
Being a Lifeline beneficiary gives you a free ticket to getting the Emergency Broadband Benefit. The EBB is a new government aid that helps people affected by Covid’19 with cheap broadband. When Covid’19 came, a lot of people were laid off.
Many companies also closed, and people remained jobless. However, via the Federal Communication Commission, the government came up with the EBB plan to help those struck by Covid’19 to get cheap communication plans.
What if I do not qualify for a free phone?
If you do not qualify for the Lifeline program, you can opt for other sources to get a free or pay later phone. It does not matter your credit scores as companies like Apple can give you phones to buy devices even if you have bad credit. The Apple payment plan for bad credit allows you to own an iPhone and pay slowly.
Florida State is among the USA states who benefit from the Lifeline program. The Lifeline service allows you to receive free government phone and discounted plans from the service provider that you choose. You can only receive one phone and a monthly plan per household.
Also, you cannot transfer the services to any other person but can only transfer to another carrier. The Lifeline service operates in all states of the US, and you can also get an EBB broadband from your carrier.