South Dakota is another one of the few states that do not participate in the free government cell phone program. The three phone companies that offer free cell phones, ReachOut Wireless, Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless are not approved to do so in the state of South Dakota.
Instead of participating in the free government cell phone program, eligible South Dakota residents can enjoy discounted phone services made available through the Lifeline/Link-Up program.
Home Phone Discounts
South Dakota phone companies that participate in the Lifeline/Link-Up program offer discounts ranging from $8.25 to $22.75 according to the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) website. The US AC website (aka LifelineSupport.org), lists the various phone companies in the United States that participate in the program. It also lists the discounts each phone company offers.
By visiting the website and clicking on the state of South Dakota on their US map, you’ll find out that C.R.S.T. Telephone Authority offers a discount of $22.75 when most other phone companies in South Dakota offer a discount of $8.25. Since the discount varies from phone company to phone company it’s best for you to visit the site to see how much of a discount you may be entitled to.
Although the USAC website has a pretty extensive list of phone companies, it does not necessarily have a complete listing. For a complete list of phone companies participating in the South Dakota Lifeline program, visit the South Dakota Department of Public Utilities website.
Discounted Phone Installation Costs
In addition to providing discounts on the monthly phone bill, qualified residents can get assistance in offsetting phone installation costs. The Link-Up portion of the program will pay for up to 50% of phone installation costs up to a maximum of $30. Households living on federally recognized tribal lands may qualify for the Enhanced Link-Up program which will pay up to $100 in installation costs.
Qualifying for Discounted Phone Service
The Lifeline/Link-Up program was created to help low-income families obtain phone service. Therefore, in order to qualify for the South Dakota discounted service you must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Food stamps
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Low Income Energy Assistance
- National School Lunch Free Lunch Program
- Supplemental Security Income
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
- Or, have a household income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
If you participate in any of the following services, you may also qualify for the Enhanced Lifeline Program:
- BIA General Assistance
- Head Start
- Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Applying for Discounted Phone Service
To apply, call your telephone company and ask for the lifeline application. You can find a generic application on the Public Utilities Commission website. You should still call your phone company to find out where to mail the application. Don’t assume that the billing address is the same address to which Lifeline applications should be mailed (don’t forget to keep a copy of the application for yourself).
Once you mail the application, be prepared to wait. The application process takes several weeks. If you have any questions about the status of the application, call your phone company.