Is it a must you have money to own and use a phone? I’m not so sure about other countries, but here in the U.S., you can get a free cell phone for seniors and disabled on various networks.
Well, yeah, I’m not referring to the usual carriers like Verizon that only give free phones when you switch to their service. The providers I speak of are the exclusive options that the government sponsors to cater to the underprivileged.
In this article, I’ve put together some of these carriers you can get free cell phones for seniors and the disabled in your area. The guide also includes how you can apply and a few other tips you should know to qualify with ease.
Is The Free Cell Phone For Seniors And Disabled Worth It?
According to the CDC, at least one in four adults in the country has a disability that affects daily life activities. The report further quotes mobility as the most common disability, which even gets worse as we grow up.
Meanwhile, phones are now the most convenient devices to communicate with loved ones and the rest of the world. In the case of seniors and the disabled, the handset is vital to call for help in times of emergencies- especially medical related.
Another thing, Seniors and the disabled are usually more prone to emotional distress due to their conditions. It even gets worse when they get to spend the entire day on their own and have nothing to keep them occupied.
But with a phone at hand, it’s usually easy to keep in touch with family and friends to cheer them up. Then smart devices now have many fun things to do and get the mind off their current predicament.
So, in my opinion, free cell phones for seniors and the disabled are definitely worth it. It’s even better at the moment as you now get free touch screen government phones instead of the old flip devices. You only need to apply and prove you deserve it with your preferred provider.
We Now Have Free Specialized Phones for Seniors with Disability
As weird as it may sound, we all don’t age the same way. Some of us will still be able to sprint in our 60s, whereas others will need an extra hand to walk around the house.
Fortunately, our government has worked hard to represent everyone. You can now easily get free phones for hard-of-hearing seniors that can’t use the regular models.
We also got cell phones for seniors with dementia in the early and mid stages. But, unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a local program that offers this one for free. You’ll have to purchase one from your pocket- they are pretty cheap, though.
How to Get Free Cell Phones for Seniors and Disabled
As was mentioned, disability and age tend to impact the everyday life activities of a person. So, many people in the group will struggle with a low income and may be unable to afford the paid AT&T and T-Mobile service or even their cheap subcarriers.
At the same time, our government has tried to take good care of everyone. We have various programs that offer free cell phones for seniors and the disabled throughout the year. The service now even comes with unlimited data to browse and do other online activities. Thus, it’s more of a choice if you’re still in the dark, locked from the world.
The most common program with free government phones and service is the Lifeline service. It’s available through a small surcharge on all wireless phone bills, listed as the “Universal Service Fund Fee”.
Meanwhile, there are usually two main ways to qualify for the lifeline program: level of income or participation in an assistance program.
Method 1: Free Cell Phone by the Level of Income
Income level is currently the easiest way to get a free cell phone for seniors and the disabled. Many people, including healthy citizens, have been out of work since the COVID-19 thing became a global disaster.
Anyhoo, an annual household income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines qualifies for the free lifeline phone. And as of 2022, the poverty guidelines stand at $13,590 to $58,290, depending on the family size and location.
|Size of the Family||Poverty Guidelines in the Contiguous States||Poverty Guidelines in Hawaii||Poverty Guidelines in Alaska|
If you compared the current chart with that of the previous years, you’ll notice the federal poverty guidelines cap has been climbing. So, we can expect that one for 2023 to be a little higher as well.
Method 2: Free Cell Phone By Participation In Assistance Programs
If in government welfare programs, you also automatically qualify for the free cell phone for seniors and the disabled. But as I’ve mentioned in some old posts, not all of these benefits are a pass to discounted service. A few that are on the whitelist include:
- Tribal Head Start
- Veteran & Survivors Pension
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental security income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Food Stamps/ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The other day, we saw that various lifeline providers do offer free phones for seniors on social security benefits. But your social security benefits come from the credits accrued during your working years. And for that, you will still need to pass the requirement for a low income or participate in government-funded programs.
Basically, this is the same situation with the free cell phones for seniors on Medicare Health Care insurance. Thus, you must have the required eligibility documents when applying with your lifeline carrier of choice.
The Best Lifeline Carrier with Free Cell Phone for Seniors & Disabled
The government has partnered with several companies to deliver discounted phones and services. Some of the options to consider for seniors and the disabled in 2023 include:
SafeLink is one of the most-talked-about providers of free government phones. It does have its drawbacks, like any other company. But the positives are still far more, starting with the availability of the nation’s largest coverage, Verizon.
Other amazing perks of the lifeline provider include:
- A free LTE smartphone
- Unlimited talk & text per month
- Up to 25GB of high-speed data per month
- Up to 5GB of mobile hotspot data per month
- Free calling and texting to Canada & Mexico
Cintex Wireless is another great phone service available to seniors and the disabled across the country free of charge. It’s better the most as you get to receive a more decent free phone, including Samsung, iPhone, Google Pixel, et cetera.
Other amazing features of Cintex Wireless are:
- Unlimited talk & text per month
- Up to 15GB of high-speed data per month
- Free call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, and 3-way calling
- Access on all three major carriers (T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T)
Similar to Cintex Wireless, TAG Mobile offers service through T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T cell towers. Thus, the senior or person with a disability you’re helping apply can opt for the service that works best in the area.
Same as other lifeline companies, TAG Mobile usually provide a free smartphone when you sign up for the first time. Then the free monthly service currently includes:
- Unlimited talk and text.
- Up to 8GB of high-speed data
Assurance Wireless is yet another lifeline provider you can consider for a free cell phone for seniors and the disabled. It hasn’t had a high reputation in recent years. But now it’s a brand of T-Mobile, we can hope for things to get better- say, they start offering BYOP option.
In the meantime, the perks you can enjoy with Assurance Wireless include:
- A free Android smartphone
- Up to 35GB of high-speed data
- Unlimited talk minutes and texts
- Up to 10GB of mobile hotspot per month
- Occasional offers, including free Amazon gift cards
TruConnect is also a nice subcarrier you can get a free cell phone for seniors and the disabled. It runs off T-Mobile towers, which currently leads on 5G. But, of course, most lifeline services only have access to 4G LTE.
Besides a free Android phone, TruConnect offers a free monthly cellular service with :
- Unlimited talk & texting
- Free international calling
- Up to 14GB of high-speed data
- Mobile hotspot to tether with your devices
Q Link Wireless
Q-Link is another well-known lifeline service across the country. It has not been on the right side of the limelight of late. But it also runs off T-Mobile towers and is one of the few you can get a free Sky Devices government tablet.
Other features you might love on Q Link include:
- Unlimited talk & texting
- Free WiFi calling & texting
- Up to 28GB of high-speed data
- Free Voicemail & 3-way calling
- Free two months of Amazon Prime
- Access to millions of FREE Wi-Fi across the country
EnTouch Wireless is another great carrier you can apply for discounted phones for seniors and the disabled. It runs off the Verizon network the last time I checked, and like the others will come with a free 5.5-inch smartphone.
As for the monthly service, your EnTouch lifeline package will come with features like:
- Unlimited talk & texting
- Free international calling
- Up to 20GB of high-speed data
- Free voicemail & international calling
Although last on my list, SafetyNet Wireless also packs some decent features in its monthly lifeline service. It used to be on the Sprint Legacy network, but T-Mobile took on that obligation after the merger in 2020.
Some of the best parts of the free government phone service include:
- A Free Unlimited talk & texting
- Up to 10GB of high-speed data
- Free access to Relay Service via 711
- Free calls to customer care & emergency services
The service allotments above comprise both the lifeline and ACP (affordable connectivity program) packages. If you opt for the lifeline only, the monthly allowances you receive will be slightly lower as per the location applied.
Common Related Questions
Why are Lifeline and ACP Offered?
The purpose of the Lifeline and ACP deals is to offer discounted phone and broadband service to the underprivileged. If you apply both, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data- with up to 40GB of high-speed browsing.
Is there income that qualifies for ACP or Lifeline?
The income qualification applies to either those who apply for ACP or Lifeline. But when you apply for ACP, the income qualifiers need to be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, whereas Lifeline is set at 135%.
How does a disabled person get a free phone?
The process of how a disabled person gets a free phone varies on several aspects. But the most common ways include having a low income or participating in social security disability insurance, Food Stamps, or other eligible federal assistance programs.
Can you get a free phone if you are on Social Security?
YES, you can get a free phone if you’re on social security benefits. But since the benefit comes from your work taxes, you’ll also need proof of low income or participation in a welfare assistance program.
Does Medicare give you a free phone?
Medicare does give you a free phone through the lifeline program. But, the health insurance is usually available to everyone-, including even middle-class and high-income earners. Thus, you’ll need to meet the requirement for low-income or participation in federal welfare programs.
Which cell phone company has the best deals for seniors?
In my opinion, the cell phone company that has the best deals for seniors is SafeLink Wireless. You get unlimited talk, text, and data, with up to 25GB of high-speed browsing and a 5GB mobile hotspot. The lifeline company also supports BYOP (bring your phone) program, something Assurance Wireless still doesn’t have.
Well, these are the relevant details you should know for now if trying to get a free cell phone for seniors and the disabled. Even if not for you, the information could help a friend or neighbor who doesn’t have a phone but could use one.
Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning lifeline carriers require the users of their service to qualify every year. If you’re helping another person to apply, make efforts to come back to the provider you’re using to reapply.