Washington DC: Free and Discounted Government Phones

| August 8, 2011

Washington DC has two phone service providers that are approved to offer free government cell phones to qualified individuals. They are Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless. Along with the free cell phone comes free air time. This service is made possible by the Lifeline/Link-Up program.

To qualify for the free cell phones you must participate in one of the following government assistance programs:

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
  • Food Stamps
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • National School Lunch (free program only)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medicaid

Or, have a household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (be prepared to provide proof of income).

In addition to free government cell phones, eligible DC residents have the option to enjoy discounted phone service.

Discounted Home Phone Service

In researching home phone discounts in Washington, DC, I came across two phone companies that offer discounted service. They are Verizon and NationsLine.


Verizon offers the Economy II discount service plan in which eligible residents pay $3 a month for basic phone service. Senior citizens (age 65 and older) receive an even further discount to the tune of paying $1 a month for basic phone service. The Economy II plan provides unlimited local calling.

According to the District of Columbia Public Service Commission website, in order to qualify for discounted utilities, you must meet certain income requirements. To find out more about the income requirements and to apply, please contact the District Department of the Environment/Energy Office at 202-673-6750.

Lifeline Discounts through NationsLine

With NationsLine you can save up to $10 per month off of your basic monthly phone service. To qualify you must participate in one of the following government assistance programs:Washington DC

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • National School Lunch (free program only)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • There are additional eligible programs for individuals living on federally recognized tribal lands. Please contact NationsLine for these additional programs.

To apply for service call NationsLine at 866-262-4114 and request an application. For more information on the Lifeline program through NationsLine, visit their website.

Installation Charges

In addition to discounted service, you may be eligible to offset up to 50% of the phone installation charges (to a maximum of $30). This is made possible through the Link Up portion of the Lifeline/Link-Up program. Individuals who live on federally recognized tribal lands may qualify for an additional $70 off of installation charges for a total of $100.

A Couple of Tips

  • Because I only found two phone companies that participate in Washington DC’s Lifeline discount program, doesn’t mean that other companies don’t offer discounts. You should call your telephone company and ask if they offer LifeLine/Link-Up discounts. The worst that could happen is they say no.
  • You may not participate in the discounted home phone service and the free government cell phone program simultaneously. You may only enroll in one program.
  • In order to receive a free government cell phone, you must have a permanent address. SafeLink and Assurance Wireless will not ship cell phones to P.O. Boxes or temporary housing.

About the Author ()

This site was created to help people find information about free government phones. We do not mail, activate or repair free government phones nor do we provide service. If you have questions about phone service we suggest you contact the phone service provider directly.

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