If you live in the state of Massachusetts and meet the eligibility requirements, you can sign up for a free government cell phone through SafeLink Wireless. SafeLink will not only ship a free cell phone to you, but you’ll also get free air time. You can opt to purchase airtime above the free time allotted to you. Free government cell phones are made possible through the Lifeline and Link Up programs.
Discounted Phone Service
In addition to free cell phones, Lifeline makes it possible for qualified Massachusetts residents to enjoy discounted home phone service. You will have to call your local phone service provider to find out how much of a discount they offer.
There is a website run by the Federal Communications Commission and the Universal Services Administrative Company which has a comprehensive listing of Lifeline phone service provider discounts by state. Unfortunately, as of this writing (July 2011), the website, Lifeline Support.org only has one listing for the state of Massachusetts. They list Granby Telephone which is offering a discount of $16 off of the basic monthly service.
With a little more poking around, I found the following Massachusetts phone companies that participate in the Lifeline program:
- FairPoint Communications: 1-800-822-6642
- Verizon: 1-800-837-4966
- RCN: 1-800-746-4726
- Richmond Telephone: 413-698-2255
Phone Installation Charges
Qualified residents can offset part of the cost for installing a home phone through the Link-Up program. Link-Up will pay up to 50% of the installation charges for qualified residents (up to a maximum of $30). If you live on federally recognized tribal lands the maximum increases to $100.
Qualifying for Lifeline Phone Services
To qualify for the Lifeline/Link-Up services you must be a low-income individual/household. You are eligible if you participate in at least one of the following state assistance programs:
- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC)
- Fuel Assistance (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- MassHealth or Medicaid
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)
If you live on federally recognized tribal lands, you qualify if you participate in any of the following programs:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance
- Head Start Program (under income qualifying eligibility provision only)
- National School Lunch Program (free meals program only)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
How to Apply for Lifeline Phone Service
To apply for the free government cell phone program through SafeLink Wireless, visit their website and complete their online application. To apply for services through any other phone company either call the phone company and request an application or download the Lifeline Application from the Massachusetts website.
A Couple of Tips
- There are a few things you should know before applying for free government cell phones, so take a moment to read this post.
- You can only participate in one Lifeline program at a time. Therefore, you either sign up for the free government cell phone or participate in the discounted home phone plan. You may not participate in both.
- Once you receive Lifeline benefits, you may be subject to periodic recertification reviews.