As a result of the Lifeline and Link-Up government programs, New Jersey residents can take advantage of free government phones offered through SafeLink Wireless, Assurance Wireless or Q Link Wireless. In addition to free government phones, New Jersey residents who qualify may sign up for discounted phone service through local New Jersey phone companies.
Qualifications for Free/Discounted Programs
The state of New Jersey in order to qualify for the low-income phone discounts or free government phones you must participate in one of the following programs:
- Supplemental security income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families/Work First New Jersey (TANF)
- General Assistance
- Lifeline Utility Credit/Tenant Lifeline Assistance
- Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD)
- Food Stamp Program
- Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP/HEAP)
Free Government Phones
SafeLink, Assurance Wireless and Q Link Wireless offer free cell phone and free airtime for qualifying individuals. The amount of free airtime varies depending on the type of plan selected when signing up.
In addition to meeting the qualification criteria for getting a free phone, New Jersey residents must also have a valid home address. The wireless phone companies will not mail cell phones to post office boxes or temporary housing facilities.
Discounted Phone Service
Several New Jersey phone companies participate in the Lifeline program and offer discounted phone service. According to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the phone companies offer discounts up to $16.29 off of the basic monthly home phone service. However, according to the Universal Service Administration Corporation (USAC) website (the USAC administers the Lifeline Plan in conjunction with the FCC), the discounts range anywhere from $8.25 to $12.29.
The best way to find out how much of a discount your phone company offers is to contact the phone company directly and ask them.
Applying for Free or Discounted Phone Service
To apply for the free cell phone service you must visit the Assurance Wireless, SafeLink Wireless or Q Link Wireless website and complete the appropriate online application. To apply for discounted phone service contact your phone service provider, request an application. After you complete and return the application along with the documentation proving that you qualify for the service, it will be processed. Processing time may take several weeks.
Phone Service Selection
You can only enroll in one Lifeline program per economic unit. Therefore, if you opt to take advantage of the free cell phone service, you may not enroll in the discounted plan also.
In order to enjoy these free or discounted phone benefits, the name of the person requesting the phone service must match the name of the person participating in the qualifying government assistance program. In other words, if the husband’s name is on the phone bill and the wife is participating in the qualifying program, the phone bill must be in the wife’s name.