How do I help my patient get a cheap or free smartphone (sometimes called a Lifeline smartphone)?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Lifeline program provides monthly discounts on phone and internet service to qualifying low-income consumers or those receiving certain federal aid programs. Eligible people will get up to $9.25 towards their internet or phone bill. They will also qualify for special smartphone rates and programs offered by vendors, that sometimes offer a free phone. The program can support discounts on phone or internet costs, but not both. To qualify for the program, a patient needs to have an income of 135% or less than the federal poverty line, OR the patient (or anyone in their household) is on SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, or lives on Tribal lands or is part of a Tribal Program.

A patient can apply online here or complete a paper application on the program website and mail to: Lifeline Support Center, P.O. Box 7081 London, KY 40742. Once qualified and registered, a patient is able to see and access services and companies that partake in the program in their area. Some companies that partake in the program offer different smartphone packages that sometimes will include a free phone as well as other services like a certain amount of data and voice minutes on the phone. For example, in May 2020, Assurance Wireless offered 3 GB of data each month as well as free unlimited text messages and up to 350 minutes of voice calls per month along with a free smartphone.

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