Arizona residents can participate in the free government cell phone program through SafeLink Wireless or the newcomer, Q Link Wireless. SafeLink and Q Link not only sends a free cell phone to eligible customers the phones come along with free airtime. If airtime allotted is not enough, you have the option of purchasing additional time.
While there are four companies that provide free government cell phones, SafeLink and Q Link Wireless are the only two currently approved in Arizona. The other two are Assurance Wireless and ReachOut Wireless. While they currently (as of February 2012) are not servicing Arizona, periodically check their website as they do add new states from time to time.
Alternative to Free Government Phones
In addition to having it available ability of free government phones, Arizona residents can participate in a discounted home phone service program. The Lifeline/Link Up Program makes both the free and discounted home phone services possible. The Lifeline/Link-Up program helps low-income individuals/households to afford home phone service.
With the discounted home phone service, Arizona residents can save anywhere from $8 and up off the cost of basic home phone service. The savings varies by phone service provider. To find out exactly how much of a savings your phone company offers, visit the Lifeline Support website. The FCC and the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) co-administers Lifeline Support. Once on the site, click the state of Arizona on the US map.
Once on the Arizona state page, you’ll quickly see that Qwest’s discounts range from $8.06 to $19.49 while Frontier offers a discount of $8.25 per month. If your phone company isn’t listed on the Lifeline Support website, call your phone company to see how much of a discount they offer. While the Lifeline Support website is convenient, it does not necessarily list all of the Arizona participating companies.
In addition to the discounted phone service, the Link-Up portion of the program helps to offset the cost of the initial phone installation. Link-Up pays 50% of the installation cost up to a maximum of $30. If, however, you are you reside on federally recognized tribal lands, you may qualify for the Enhanced Link-Up program, which increases the $30 maximum to $100.
Eligibility Criteria for Free or Discounted Home Phone Service
Because the intent of the Lifeline/Link-Up program is to help low-income individuals, to qualify you must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System
- Family Assistance Administration Cash Assistance
- Federal Public Housing
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
- State Children’s Health Insurance Plan
- National School Lunch
- Supplemental Security Income
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)
Or, have an income that is either at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines.
In addition to the above services, seniors 65 and older can qualify for the Senior Telephone Discount Program if their household income is at or below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines. Here’s the link to the Senior Telephone Discount Program application:
Arizona residents who meet the medical need requirement may apply for assistance through the Qwest Telephone Assistance Program for the Medically Needy. Aside from meeting the medical need requirement, the household income may not exceed 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Applying for Free or Discounted Phone Service
To apply for the free government phone, visit the SafeLink or Q Link website and complete their online application.
To apply for the discounted phone service, contact your phone company and request the lifeline application. After you have completed and returned the application, it takes several weeks before the discount will show up on your home phone. During that period of time, please continue to make timely payments on your phone bill.
Keep in mind that you may only select one of the two programs. You may only enroll in one of the two programs at a time. Therefore, if you opt to enroll in the free government phone program you may not simultaneously enroll in the home phone discounted program or visa versa.
For more information on services offered to Arizona residents, visit the Arizona Department of Economic Security website.