Goverment Cell Phones For The Elderly

The US government has created a wonderful scheme where free cell phones with free talk time are given to the elderly in certain states.  The aged can now obtain a free cell phone plus they can make and receive calls without cost.  This has come about since the government has recognized the hardships that senior citizens on fixed incomes undergo.  The Universal Service Fund (USF) funds the Lifeline and Link-Up programs and is being administered by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (“Free Cellphones,” n.d.)

Contrary to popular knowledge, this free cell phone plan is not a recent program.  This was pioneered during the time of President Reagan in the year 1984, which was for the benefit of senior citizens as well as low income groups by providing them a means of communication to use during emergencies.  This was started by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and was further enhanced as the Lifeline Program of the  telecommunication act of 1996 (Hollands, n.d.).

The Safelink program was initiated by the Tracfone Wireless company after the Lifeline Program.  The former program gives free cell phones a free call time to low income groups across the nation.  Expenses for this does not come from the taxpayers.  The phone and service is paid for by Tracfone Wireless.  Users cannot be recipients of both programs, either they opt for Lifelin or Safelink to know which one fits their needs best.

Features like call waiting, caller ID, and voicemail services are all included in the free cell phone.  Emergency number 911 is also available.  The state policy gives guidelines on the number of free minutes that each person will receive.  If the senior citizen opts to get more minutes by paying additional charges, they can do that by using TracFone recharge Cards. Senior citizens can use unused free minutes that are carried over along the next few months.  

The beneficiaries of this program are not required to sign any contracts, nor are they restricted for the phone usage or international roaming.  Everything about this program is free.  The free talk time strategy is applicable for the next 12 months, although there will renewal of usage once in a year to continue the services.  Although this might seem to be too easy to be true, there are still guidelines, restrictions, and eligibility factors to consider so that a senior citizen can be qualified to avail of the services.  Citizens whose state laws do not have this kind of policy can obviously not avail of the said services (Smith, 2011).

In order that a senior citizen gets to be qualified for the free cell phone program,  he must be enlisted under any Federal Assistance Programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Low Income Home Energy Assistant Program (LIHEAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid.  A person who applies should belong to the class who has low income, has disability or is handicapped.  A written document should be provided to prove that they are beneficiaries of the aforementioned programs.

In addition to the requirements stated above, the following should be included also: income tax return copy, last four months’ pay slips, and a letter from the employer.  If the applicant is unemployed, they should inform about the financial resources they have in order to live.  If circumstances become better for them, they should also notify the company in charge.  Their free talk time will stop, but they will still be owners of the phone.

How do the services work?

Link-Up Free Wireless Plan Activation

Discounts or outright waiver are provided for your landline or primary wireless cell phone plan by Link-Up.  An example of this is Verizon Wireless who provided free activation and installation for all new customers who are qualified Pennsylvania residents.   In addition to the regular phone, Verizon adds a free phone.

Lifeline Discounted Monthly Charges

Lifelines assists in providing subsidies in your monthly expenses after setup.  Discounts of up to $12 on Pennsylvania residents are offered by Verizon.

How to Apply for the Service

States have different eligibility and application process.  You can do your research first before application by finding a list of phone companies that are participants in Lifeline and Link-Up by surfing  After clicking the state you reside and picking a telephone company, complete information on eligibility requirements, available discounts, and who to contact to apply will be given.

Citizens who are recipients of any form of government assistance like Medicaid, Food Stamps, or National School Lunch’s Free Lunch Program are qualified to apply for this free cell phone program.  In addition to senior citizens, Native Americans and individuals supported by tribally-administered organizations are also qualified (“Free Cell Phones,” n.d.)

One mobile company that has jumped in the bandwagon of providing free cell phone with free plan is Virgin Mobile through Assurance Wireless, which is its subsidiary company.  Virgin Mobile provides 200 free monthly minutes in addition to the free phone.   Virgin Mobile’s program is available only in nine states but they plan to expand in the years to come.

Companies that also provide these services are Consumer Cellular and Jitterbug. Although Consumer Cellular does not specifically targets seniors, it has inexpensive simple cellular wireless plans.  Consumer Cellular purchases airtime from other providers, thus then can cover the same as other cellular companies.

Another mobile phone provider is Jitterbug.  It is a senior-friendly mobile company since it has a simple cellular plan that can be used for travel, emergencies, and low-volume calling (Smidt, 2008).

If you are a senior citizen who wants to avail of these services can qualify depending on your income and the cell phone plan you choose, you can easily obtain a very inexpensive cell phone plan with a free cell phone. Families that try to make ends meet will do a great choice if they opt to have this for their families who have senior citizens who need to be communicated with.  Apply in one today.

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Free Cell Phones for Seniors and Low-Income Families through Lifeline and Link-Up. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Hollands, A.  (n.d.) Free Cell Phones for All. Retrieved from

Smidt, D. (2008). Senior Citizens Can Find Special Cell Phone Plans and Discounts. Retrieved from

Smith, J. (2011). Government Free Phone for  Elderly People.  Retrieved from