Lifeline is the FCC’s benefits program that aims to make communications services affordable for low-income consumers. Lifeline gives subscribers a discount on eligible monthly telephone service, broadband service, or bundled packages bought from the participating service providers. The discount ensures that low-income consumers can afford broadband and access to jobs, healthcare, and educational resources. We shall look at the process of getting the Lifeline free phone and tablet shortly.

    Lifeline gives you an affordable communication plan and a free smartphone for your understanding. You are also free to come with your smartphone if you feel that the current smartphone does not meet your expectations. Usually, you have to undergo strict scrutiny to determine your eligibility. The National Verifier systems determine the eligibility of applicants to ensure that only the needy Americans get the benefit. Some people can take advantage of free things and start making money out of them.

    The Lifeline program is managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The body is responsible for collecting data and maintaining, supporting, calculating, and disbursing for the low-income program. USAC’s website gives you information regarding administrative issues of the low-income program and program requirements. There are various modernizations that FCC has done to the Lifeline project to make it effective for the beneficiaries. The National Eligibility Verifier is one of the various aspects of modernization done to the platform.

    Process To Receive A Free Phone From The Government

    You can get a free device from the government after applying for the Lifeline program through your service provider or the National Verifier portal. The service operates throughout the country, and as I have mentioned, it targets the less fortunate to give them affordable communication bundles and a free smartphone.  

    Get Started With Lifeline

    You can start using the services when you apply to your service provider. However, you must be eligible to apply, whereby you can determine your eligibility by visiting the National Verifier and making your application. Consumers can apply for Lifeline using the National Verifier through any of the following ways.

    1. With the assistance of your service provider through the provider’s portal or website
    2. On your own, by using the consumer portal online. Once finished, you can contact the most suitable service provider to continue with registration. When applying by mail, you can include a copy of proof of identity, a copy of proof of eligibility, and a household Worksheet.
    3. By sending a paper application by mail 

    Your service provider can follow the procedure below when a consumer applies for the Lifeline service.

    1. Visit the National Verifier portal.
    2. Sign in using the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier-only credentials.
    3. Use an interview-style method to ask the consumer for the required details, complete the application process, and upload documentation (where needed). 
    4. Ask the customer to initial and sign the online application themselves.  
    5. After the system approves a qualifying consumer, the service provider should enroll them in NLAD.

    Service providers may sign in to the portal to see a list of active applications by consumers associated with their accounts and do the necessary. The service providers can enroll consumers in NLAD after approval by the National Verifier. Therefore, they cannot enroll consumers without first having them verified. Once verified, you will be able to start benefiting from the service. Lifeline offers free cell phones for seniors, the disabled, and those with low income once approved.

    Qualification For Lifeline

    There are various ways you can qualify for Lifeline. The first way you can qualify for Lifeline is through income. The federal government allows people with a total household income of about 135% of the federal poverty guideline to apply as long as they come with a supporting document. 

    You can check the table below, which reflects 135% of the 2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines.

    Number of people in a household 48 Contiguous States, D.C., and Territories Hawaii Alaska
    1 $18,347 $21,101 $22,937
    2 $24,719 $28,431 $30,902
    3 $31,091 $35,762 $38,867
    4 $37,463 $43,092 $46,832
    5 $43,835 $50,423 $54,797
    6 $50,207 $57,753 $62,762
    7 $56,579 $65,084 $70,727
    8 $62,951 $72,414 $78,692
    For each additional person, add: $6,372 $7,331 $7,965

    You Can show proof of income by presenting various documents such as tax returns or three consecutive pays stubs. You can also qualify for the Lifeline benefit through other benefit programs, which include the following, of which you should show proof of participation. 

    1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), initially known as Food Stamps- You will learn how you can get a free tablet with Food Stamps shortly. 
    2. Medicaid
    3. Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)                                                  
    4. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 
    5. Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

    Remember that only one person per household should participate in the program. You can also qualify through the Tribal Assistance Programs. If you reside on Tribal lands, you can get Lifeline if you or someone in your household benefits from the following Tribal Assistance Programs.

    1. Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    2. Head Start
    3. Tribal TANF
    4. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations       

    You might need to show proof of participation using an official letter or document. Another way you can qualify for the Lifeline program is through your child or Dependent if they benefit from any of the above programs. Once your application succeeds, the service provider should give you a free phone and discounted plans for your day-to-day communication needs.

    Get A Free Government Tablet – The Procedure

    We have seen how Lifeline allows you to get a free phone when you qualify for the service. Now I want to show you how to get a free tablet from the government. We all understand the importance of a tablet whereby you can do various things such as playing games, typing documents, working online, watching movies, etc.

    You can get a free tablet when joining the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) that was helping people affected by Covid 19 to benefit from affordable broadband service and discounted devices such as computers, laptops, or tablets. 

    The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

    The Affordable Connectivity Program is a benefit program from FCC that helps needy households who cannot afford the broadband they require for school, work, healthcare, and more. The program gives the beneficiaries a discount of up to $30 every month for the internet service for eligible citizens and up to $75 every month for households on the eligible Tribal lands.

    Furthermore, eligible households can get a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, computer, or tablet from your service provider. You have to contribute more than $10 and less than $50 for the purchase price. You can see that upon contributing something small, you can get a tablet. You can call it a free tablet because the amount you contribute is minimal.

    Just as it is with Lifeline, you must meet eligibility requirements for the ACP to be able to get the benefits. Some of the qualifications resemble Lifeline’s qualifications, while we have other additional qualifications.

    A household is eligible for the ACP program if the household income is at/ below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. That is slightly different from the Lifeline one, which stands at 135%. Also, a member can qualify if they received a Federal Pell Grant within the current award year. Also, you can qualify if you meet the eligibility criteria for your service provider’s existing low-income internet benefit program.

    You can also qualify through any of the assistance programs below.

    1. SNAP. The program allows you to receive your benefits through your EBT card as per the regulations. That is how you can get a free tablet with EBT only.
    2. Medicaid 
    3. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    4. WIC
    5. Lifeline
    6. Federal Public Housing Assistance 
    7. Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits

    You can also qualify for the service if you participate in one of the following assistance programs and reside on qualifying Tribal lands.

    1. Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance 
    2. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    3. Tribal Head Start (income-based)
    4. Tribal TANF

    Documents You Need To Prove ACP and Lifeline Eligibility

    The various primary documents you need to have before applying for either of the programs include the following.

    1. A photo ID Proof
    2. Residence proof
    3. Income proof or salary slip
    4. Contact details

    Since qualification by income is very common, you also need to have supporting documents which include the following.

    1. A Social Security statement of benefits
    2. A Veteran Administration statement of benefits
    3. An Unemployment/Workmen’s Compensation statement of benefits
    4. The prior year’s state, federal, or tribal tax return
    5. A retirement/pension statement of benefits
    6. Federal or tribal letter of participation in General Assistance

    Bottom Line

    Lifeline is a government benefit program that allows eligible people to benefit from the free government phone and discounted plans. You can apply on the National Verifier’s portal or through the participating service provider. ACP is related to Lifeline in that it gives discounted internet services and a free tablet to eligible households. You have to prove that you qualify for the benefits by producing supporting documents.