Qualified residents in South Carolina have the option to select from a few government phone programs. Just recently (January, 2011) Assurance Wireless was approved to offer free government phones in the state. Prior to January, 2011, the only free government phone program approved in South Carolina was the Safelink Wireless program. Now South Carolina residents can choose either a free phone from Safelink or Assurance Wireless or opt to take advantage of the discounted home phone service.
Qualifications for Both Programs
Both the free and discounted government phone programs offered as a result of Lifeline/Link Up programs have qualification criteria to meet. These programs are offered to low income individuals/families and therefore to qualify you must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Medicaid (Healthy Connections),
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or
- Food Stamps (SNAP)
Free Phone/Discounted Phone Benefits
In general, South Carolina telephone service providers offer a discount of $13.50 per month off of the basic monthly service charge. There are a few companies that offer a different discount but in general most of them offer $13.50.
For more information on the exact discount that your phone company offers, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company USAC website . Click on the state of South Carolina to locate a listing of telephone service providers. Locate your telephone service provider to find the discounts offered.
If your telephone service provider is not listed on the USAC website, that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer a Lifeline discount. Contact them to find out the type of discount they offer.
Applying for Discounted or Free Phone Service
To apply for discounted or free phone service, contact your telephone service provider and obtain an application. Complete the application and submit it with the necessary documentation that proves your eligibility.
If you’re applying for free telephone service as offered through Assurance Wireless and Safelink Wireless, you must go to their website and complete the appropriate application.
It may take several weeks for the application to be processed and approved. During that time, please continue to pay your monthly phone bills until the discounts take effect.