The Lifeline/Link-Up program makes it possible for Maine residents to enjoy free government cell phone service. Qualified residents can sign up for the service through SafeLink Wireless. Once accepted, the eligible candidate will receive not only a free cell phone but free airtime along with the phone. The amount of free airtime get depends on the type of airtime package signed up for.
As an alternative to free government cell phones, qualified Maine residents can opt for home phone line discounts. Through Link-Up eligible residents can offset the initial phone installation cost by up to 50% (up to a maximum of $30). Individuals who are on federally recognized tribal land may qualify for additional help through the enhanced Lifeline program which will cover up to $70 of the phone installation costs.
Home Phone Line Discounts
Lifeline discounts are not all the same. Each phone company offers a different discount so you’ll have to check with the phone company to see what they offer. For a quick rundown of phone company discounts visit the Lifeline Support website. Lifeline Support is a website run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC). They co-administer the Lifeline program and provide a listing of Maine telephone service providers and their discounts.
Once on the site, you’ll see a United States map. Click on the state of Maine to access the listing of phone carriers. You quickly note that FairPoint – NNE offers a discount of $9.50 while Lincolnville Telephone Company has a $13.50 discount off of the basic monthly phone charge.
While the USAC has an impressive listing of telephone service providers, it’s not necessarily a complete list. If your phone company isn’t listed on the website, contact your phone company to find out how much of the discount they offer.
Qualifying for Free or Discounted Phone Service
Since the Lifeline/Link-Up program was designed to help low-income individuals obtain and pay for telephone service, in order to qualify you must have a household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in one the following assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Food Stamps
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or
- The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
There are additional qualifying programs for Native American Indian and Alaska Native communities which include:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
Signing up for Phone Service
Free Cell Phones: To apply for the free government cell phones you must visit the SafeLink Wireless website and complete their online application. Before signing up for the free cell phone, however, you must have a valid home address. They will not send cell phones to PO boxes or temporary housing.
Discounted Phone Service: Contact your home telephone service provider and ask them for the Lifeline application. Complete the application as soon as you receive it and return it along with the proper documentation to the address or fax number indicated on the application. Processing the application may take several weeks up to a couple of months.
If you have questions about the status of your application, contact your phone company.