As of this writing Montana residents cannot take advantage of the free government cell phone programs as offered through ReachOut Wireless, Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless. Although residents don’t have access to free government cell phones, they can enjoy deeply discounted basic monthly phone service through their telephone service provider.
Monthly discounts range anywhere from $13.50 to in excess of $30 per month. To find out how much of a discount your phone company offers, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website . The USAC in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission administers the Lifeline/Link-Up phone program.
The Lifeline portion of the program makes discounted phone service possible. The Link-Up section of the program helps to offset part of the cost of initial phone installation.
Qualifying for Montana Discounted Phone Service
Created to help low-income individuals, the eligibility requirements to participate in the Lifeline/Link Up program are as follows:
Montana residents that live on or near Tribal lands and/or have a household income of 135% or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible to participate in the discounted phone program.
Additionally, participants of any of the following government assistance programs are eligible:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- Head Start
- National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
For further clarification as to whether or not you qualify, visit the Montana Public Service Commission
Applying for Discounted Phone Service
Montana is a little different than other states whereas you must go through a middle organization to apply for discount phone service. You cannot go directly to your phone company and request lifeline discounts. First, you must complete the Discount Coupon for Telephone Services application. The application is short and requires your name address Social Security number, telephone company, phone number and signature.
After completing the application, drop it off at your nearest Office of Public Assistance. They will review the application for eligibility. Once eligibility is determined, they will forward the necessary information to your phone company. It takes about two months for the phone company to implement the discount.
New Phone Service Customers
If you do not currently have phone service you can take advantage of both the Lifeline and Link-Up programs. First, you must contact your phone company to order telephone service. Then, complete the Discount Coupon for Telephone Services application and submit it to the local Office of Public Assistance. They will process the application thus allowing you to take advantage of the monthly phone discount and defray part of the initial phone installation costs.