Pennsylvania residents have several options when it comes to free or discount government phones.
Free Government Cell Phones
Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless are approved to offer free cell phones to qualified Pennsylvania residents. As participants of the Federal LifeLine and Link-Up programs, these companies offer free cell phones and free talk time to residents meeting the income requirements (income requirements are listed below).
Once you meet the qualification requirements, all you have to do is visit either of the websites and fill out the online application.
Discounted Phone Service
In addition to the free government cell phone program, Pennsylvania residents have a few options when it comes to discounted phone service:
Lifeline 135 offers discounted phone service to individuals or households with an income of 135% of the federal poverty guidelines . Through this program, customers can save approximately $8.25 off of the basic monthly phone service. Services such as Caller ID or Call Waiting can be purchased for an additional charge.
Verizon offers the Lifeline program to Pennsylvania residents. To qualify for the Lifeline program the household income must be at or below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in any of the following government assistance programs:
- General Assistance
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANFP )
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Food Stamps
- National School Lunch Programs Free Lunch Program
The Lifeline program is only offered to Verizon PA and Verizon North phone customers only.
The monthly phone discounts vary between the Lifeline and Lifeline 135 programs. To find out what type of discount your phone company offers, visit LifelineSupport.org . Once there, click on the Pennsylvania state link to see the listing of phone companies available. Monthly phone discounts vary by phone company. For example, according to the Lifeline Support site, Hickory Telephone Company offers a discount of $8.25 while West Side Telecommunications offers basic phone service as low as $4.25 per month.
If your phone company is not listed on the Lifeline Support website that doesn’t mean they’re not participating in the Lifeline program. While the Lifeline Support website is helpful, it is not necessarily a complete list of participating phone companies. If your company is not listed there, call your phone company and ask what type of discounts Lifeline discount they offer.
Through Link-Up America, qualified Pennsylvania customers get assistance in paying the initial phone installation charges. The Link-Up program will pay up to 50% of the installation charges (to a maximum of $30). The remainder of the installation charged can be paid on a deferred bases spread over a 12 month period of time.
Households that qualify for Lifeline 135 and Lifeline also qualify for the Link-Up program.
Universal Telephone Assistance Program (UTAP )
The Universal Telephone Assistance Program helps Verizon customers pay their past due bills. This helps to avoid termination in phone coverage. This is only available to Verizon PA customers.
Signing up for Discounted Phone Service
Enrollment applications are processed through the phone company. Therefore, you must contact your phone company and ask for the necessary applications to apply for the programs. After completing and submitting the application, allow several weeks for processing. In the meanwhile, continue to make timely payments on your current phone service.