As of this writing, September 2011, Nebraska residents cannot participate in the free government cell phone program. The three carriers that offer free cell phones, Assurance Wireless, SafeLink Wireless and ReachOut Wireless are not currently approved to offer such services in Nebraska. You can check their websites periodically to see if and when Nebraska is added to their approved list. SafeLink will notify you by email if you sign up for their notification system.
Discounted Home Phone Service
Although Nebraskans cannot currently participate in the free government cell phone program they can participate in the discounted home landline service. Eligible residents can sign up for the Nebraska Telephone Assistance Program (NTAP). This program is made possible by the Lifeline/Link-Up program.
Through this program qualified, residents can receive anywhere from $10-$13.50 discount off of their basic home phone service. In addition to the monthly discount, the Link-Up section of the program will offset a portion of the phone installation costs. Link-Up will pay 50% of the installation costs up to a maximum of $30. Individuals who live on federally recognized tribal land might be entitled to the Enhanced Link-Up discount which will pay 50% up to $100 of the installation costs.
NTAP Monthly Discount Amount
To find out how much of a discount your phone company offers, you could either call your phone company or visit the Lifeline Support website. Co-administered by the FCC and the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC), the site lists the Nebraska companies participating in the Lifeline program along with the discounts offered. Don’t worry if your phone company isn’t listed on the site. If it’s not listed, call your company and inquire about the Lifeline discount.
In order to take advantage of this program you must be the recipient of at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Children’s Health Insurance Programs (Kids Connection, SAM, MAC & EMAC)
Applying for NTAP
Once you have determined your eligibility, you could either download the application , complete it online or call the Nebraska Public Service Commission (402) 471-3101 (Lincoln) (800) 526-0017 (Nebraska Only) and ask for an application. After receiving the application, complete it and return it along with the necessary documentation (proof of eligibility).
It’s in your best interest to send the application back as soon as possible because the approval process is a lengthy one. It can take as many as 60 days for your enrollment application to be processed. Once approved it may take another 30 days before you actually see the discount on your home phone bill.
Please note that the Nebraska Telephone Assistance Program does not pay for past due phone bills. Therefore, it is important to pay your phone bill in a timely manner during the application process.
If you have any questions, visit the Nebraska Public Services Commission for more information.