The Lifeline/Link-Up government program makes it possible for qualified Missouri residents to receive free cell phones through ReachOut Wireless or SafeLink Wireless. As of this writing (September 2011), Assurance Wireless does not offer free cell phone service in the state of Missouri. It may change in the future, but if you’re looking for free cell phones now, ReachOut and SafeLink are your only options.
Along with the free cell phones, the companies provide free airtime.
Discounted Home Phone Service
Missouri residents also have the option to choose a discounted phone service instead of free cell phones. The discounted home phone service is also made available by the Lifeline program. Discounts and the forms in which they are administered vary. For example, qualified residents may pay as little as $.15 to $6 for basic monthly phone service through AT&T while TDS Telecom, on the other hand, will discount the basic phone service by as much as $17 per month.
The above information was obtained from the Lifeline Support website. Lifeline support site is co-administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC). They have an extensive listing of the phone companies providing service to Missouri residents.
Visit their website, click on the state of Missouri from the US map to find the listing of phone service providers and the discounts they offer. Although their list is extensive it is not complete. If your home phone company is not listed on the Lifeline Support website, don’t fret. Call your phone company to find out what types of discount they offer.
Linkup Phone Services
The Link-Up section of the program helps Missouri residents to offset part of the cost for phone installation. If you are applying for new phone service and meet the eligibility requirements, Link-Up will pay up to 50% of the phone installation costs. The amount they pay will not exceed $30.
If you live on federally recognized tribal land, you may be eligible for the enhanced linkup program, which will offset the installation costs up to $100.
The Lifeline/Link-Up program was created to help low-income individuals meet their telephone service needs. Therefore, the eligibility requirements state that you must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- National School Lunch (free program only)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Additional eligibility criteria may apply to residents of federally recognized tribal lands
Applying for Service
To apply for phone service through reach ReachOut Wireless or SafeLink Wireless, visit their website and complete the online application.
To apply for discounted phone service through your local telephone company download and complete the Lifeline/Link-Up application. Once you complete the application submit it to the phone company along with the necessary eligibility documentation.
Be prepared to wait because it takes several weeks for the applications to be processed. If you have any questions regarding the status of your application call your local phone company.
Words of Advice
Please be advised that you may not sign up for both the free cell phone program and the discounted phone service program. You may only apply for one service at a time. Additionally, if you apply for the free government phone, make sure that you have a valid home address. They will not ship a cell phone to a temporary housing facility or PO boxes.