Do You Qualify?


If you’ve found your way to this page, you probably are excited about the Lifeline Assistance program, and wondering whether you could possibly get a free government cell phone which you can use to call family, friends, and potential employers. If you have a low income or no income, there is a good chance that you will qualify. Lifeline Assistance is a federal program, subject to state authority, so there are variations between states for qualification. That means that you will need to check with your state’s requirements to know if you qualify or not.

Not sure where to start? We’re here to help walk you through the process. Applying for Lifeline Assistance is very easy, and you will probably be able to complete the paperwork in just ten minutes and get it sent off right away. There is no application fee, no activation fee, and no other cost. You have nothing to lose by applying.

There are four requirements you need to meet in order to qualify for Lifeline Assistance:

1. State of residence requirement

2. Income/assistance program requirements

3. No member of your household currently participating

4. Valid U.S. mailing address (no post office boxes unfortunately)

Let’s take these requirements one at a time and explain them.

1. State of residence requirement

In order to receive Lifeline Assistance, your state must be actively participating. This should not be a problem, since even remote states like Alaska are now participating in Lifeline. You will need to make sure there is service in your area before you can get free minutes though—some rural areas are still under-served.

2. Income/assistance program requirements

There are two tests for eligibility for Lifeline. You must satisfy one OR the other. You do not need to satisfy both.

  • Income test; or
  • Participation in an eligible assistance program

What is the Income Test?

If your household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, you are eligible for a free government cell phone. If you live in Arizona, Florida, Michigan,

Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island or Texas, you can qualify at up to 150% of the federal poverty level.

Below are the guidelines for this year:

2014 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Persons in family/household Poverty guideline

  1.  $11,670
  2. 15,730
  3. 19,790
  4. 23,850
  5. 27,910
  6. 31,970
  7. 36,030
  8. 40,090

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,060 for each additional person.

The thresholds are higher in Alaska:

Persons in family/household Poverty guideline

  1. $14,580
  2. 19,660
  3. 24,740
  4. 29,820
  5. 34,900
  6. 39,980
  7. 45,060
  8. 50,140

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,080 for each additional person.

And in Hawaii:

Persons in family/household Poverty guideline

  1. $13,420
  2. 18,090
  3. 22,760
  4. 27,430
  5. 32,100
  6. 36,770
  7. 41,440
  8. 46,110

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,670 for each additional person.

What is the Eligible Assistance Program Test?


You can also qualify for Lifeline Assistance if you are already enrolled in another qualifying assistance program. These programs vary by state, but include a variety of state and federal programs such as Food Stamps, SSI, Medicaid, Section 8, and WIC. Even if you do not meet the income test, if you are participating in an eligible program, you can receive Lifeline Assistance. And even if you are not enrolled in one of these programs, if you do meet the income requirements, you will qualify.

3. No member of your household currently participating

All households are eligible for only one subsidized cell phone or landline. That means if another member of your household is already enrolled, your entire household is considered to be sharing that phone line, and you cannot qualify for another. If no one in your household has applied, you can apply for your entire household.

4. Valid U.S. Mailing Address

You must have a valid street address in the U.S. in order to qualify for Lifeline Assistance.

Eligibility requirements change from time to time, especially where qualifying programs are concerned. As you can see though, it is really quite simple to determine if you are likely to be eligible or not. If you think you have a shot at getting a free government cell phone, click below to proceed to the next step and learn how to get one!

Learn How to Apply For a Free Cell Phone

  • spencer

    How do I get. The free cell phones with

  • Darlene Furgerson Osborn

    My mom is on the safelink service and her phone is so small and unable for her to read the contents. Can she get something bigger for her?