Residents in the state of Washington can sign up for the Washington Telephone Assistance Program. The WTAP is Washington’s version of the Lifeline/Link-Up phone assistance program. Qualified individuals can sign up to receive discounted phone service.
According to the Washington Public Utilities Commission website, eligible residents will pay $8 per month (plus taxes and fees) for phone service. The $8 does not include features such as caller ID, voicemail, call waiting or long distance calls. However, according to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the monthly basic phone rate varies by phone service provider.
The Universal Service Administrative Company in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission administers the federal Lifeline/Link-Up program. The USAC website lists companies such as Inland Cellular offering a savings of $8.25 on the basic monthly bill to a savings of $13.50 offered through Pend Orielle Telephone Company. To see if your phone company offers a savings different than what’s listed on the Washington Public Utilities Commission website, visit the USAC website.
Free Government Cell Phones
Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless are approved to provide free cell phones and free airtime to qualified Washington residents. The amount of free airtime provided varies depending on the plan you select. You also have the option of purchasing additional airtime if you so choose.
Eligibility Requirements for Free or Discounted Phone Service
Because the discounted service is provided to low income individuals, you must be the recipient of one of the following financial assistance programs offered through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
- Community Options Program
- DSHS Chore Services
- Food Stamps
- General Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income
- Medical Assistance
- Refugee Assistance
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
In addition to the above programs, you may qualify for the Tribal Lifeline and Link-Up program if you live on federally recognized tribal land. With the Tribal Lifeline/Link-Up program, the cost of basic home phone service is $1 a month. Additionally, you can receive up to $100 to offset the cost of initial phone installation costs. Visit the FCC website for more information on Tribal Lifeline/LinkUp.
Applying for Free Cell Phones
To sign up for the SafeLink Wireless or Assurance Wireless free cell phone programs, visit the appropriate website and complete their online application. Please be advised, however, that you must have a permanent residence in order to receive a free cell phone. They will not ship cell phones to PO boxes or temporary housing facilities.
Applying for Discounted Phone Service
To apply for the WTAP program, call your local phone company. You will need to have your DSHS client identification number as proof that you are eligible for the program. If you have any further questions regarding the WTAP program, call them toll free at 1-888-333-9882 or visit the Washington Utilities and Transportation website.
Community Voice Mail – Another Phone Option
If your living situation is such that you do not currently have a home residence you might be able to take advantage of the free community voicemail program.
The Community Voice Mail Program provides a free voicemail box so that no matter where you live, you can dial in to retrieve your messages. This is particularly useful for people who are homeless, unable to afford home phone service, residing in a temporary residence for domestic violence victims or any other circumstances where a home phone is not possible. You can either visit the Community Voice Mail website or call at 206-441-7972 to find more information on how to sign up.