The government is currently running a lot of social welfare programs to aid in economic empowerment of low-income citizens. One of these programs involves issuing out of free cell phones. This is the Lifeline Access program. Through this program, beneficiaries can get free government touch screen cell phones and free monthly subscription plans. Verizon, one of the largest telecommunication companies in the country, is currently offering this free service. Below is a detailed description of their involvement in the Lifeline Access program, and how you can get a Verizon wireless free government phone.
What is the Lifeline Access Program?
Lifeline Access is a project run by the federal government to aid the economically challenged citizens to afford communication services. It is part of the larger Lifeline program that has been running since 1985. Until 2012, the program only offered subsidized landline telephone services. It was later upgraded to include cell phones due to the growing popularity of mobile phones, and the irrelevance of landline services.
So why provide free government cell phones? Well, according to social and economic analysis, telephone communication is not a luxury, but a necessity in this modern age. Everyone needs a cell phone to access emergency services, to communicate with utility companies, get information on available job opportunities, and even communicate with family members. Without access to all this, it would be very difficult for any person to be a functional member of the society.
How Does The Lifeline Access Program Work?
It is a partnership between the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and mobile network companies. The government pays these companies $10 a month for every customer they offer free mobile services. The companies therefore only invest in providing free cell phones to new subscribers. Verizon is one of these free government cell phone companies.
The program is funded by Universal Service Fund (USF) and gets administrative input from Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Using their vast data on income levels, cost of living, and personal expenditures, they provide guidelines on who qualifies for the program. USAC also helps work out cell phone plans that would satisfy beneficiaries.
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Who Qualifies For Lifeline Access
The program is limited to individuals with low income. The inclusion criterion, therefore, focuses on income levels. Anyone with an income that is below 135% of the poverty income line qualifies for the program. The poverty income level varies from state to state and even city to city. Therefore check to ensure that you truly qualify for it. Also, anyone who is a beneficiary of any government welfare program is eligible for Lifeline Access. These programs include:
- Food Stamps and Supplemental Nutrition Program
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF)
- Child’s Health Insurance Program
- Supplemental Security Program
- Housing Assistance
There may be other requirements that vary depending on the company offering the service.
About The Verizon Program
Verizon was one of the network companies that were selected to offer this free service from its onset in 2012. It is one of the largest telecommunication companies in the country. it holds the record for having the largest network coverage in the country, thus making it a convenient option for customers seeking to benefit from their free cell phone service. Their package entails a Verizon wireless free government phone and a free monthly cell phone plan to all beneficiaries.
Verizon Wireless Free Government Phone How Much Save You Monthly?
Every free government cell phone Verizon plan comes with a fully paid monthly package of $9.25. This is a comprehensive plan that includes both local and domestic long distance calls, as well as text messages. The plan is often sufficient to cover your monthly communication needs, therefore saving you the need to pay any phone bill. In case you go for a higher plan, the free government cell phone plan will cover only $9.25 of the bill, while you pay the rest. So in brief, you get almost $10 knocked off your monthly phone bill.
Locations Served By The Verizon Wireless Free Government Phone Program
Despite being a nationwide company with coverage in all the 52 states, the Verizon wireless free government phone is only accessible to residents in four states: Iowa, North Dakota, New York and Wisconsin. The reason why Verizon has not expanded to other states is not clear, as other free government cell phone companies offer their services almost nationwide.
Also, the Verizon wireless free government phone service is not available in all areas of the above-mentioned states. It is limited to various counties. So check up to see if your location is covered before attempting to subscribe.
Qualifications For The Verizon Wireless Free Government Phone Program
Apart from fulfilling the USAC provided guidelines for income level, there are additional requirements that one must meet before being signed up for the Verizon wireless free government phone program. These include:
- Provide documentation to certify income level
- Provide a physical address that falls within the area covered by Verizon’s free cell program
- Notify Verizon of any changes in locality
Tribal Land Residents Automatically Qualify
Verizon Wireless USA and the Lifeline Access program, in general, is largely committed to improving the living standards of Native Americans living in tribal lands. For this reason, anyone residing in a tribal land covered by Verizon’s free cell phone program automatically qualifies for the program, regardless of all their other details.
Restrictions On The Verizon Wireless Free Government Phone Program
Getting a Verizon wireless free government phone does not necessarily mean you have full autonomy of your plans and access to Verizon’s services. There are certain restrictions that may limit your use. These include:
- Only one user in a household can benefit from the program. This means that families have to pick one member to get the phone.
- Must sign a contract of service, which includes a minimum duration in which you will benefit from the program. Any termination of the contract before expiry will attract a termination fee.
- Participants need to provide two different documents to certify their identity and sign under penalty of perjury that they are eligible for the program.
Violation of any of these terms will most likely lead to you being kicked out of the program, or even fined. You are also required to re-apply for the free cell phone service every year, where all the parameters are again re-assessed.
Verizon Wireless Lifeline Plans
There are two planes available in the Verizon wireless free government phone program. These are:
- The Lifeline Plan, $25
- The Home Phone Connect (HPC) Plan, $19.99
The Lifeline $25 Plan
The Lifeline Plan requires a compatible Verizon wireless free government phone. This is either provided by the company upon signing up or can be bought separately. Of the $25, the government pays $9.25. Verizon Wireless, therefore, bills you the remainder, that is $15.75 a month.
The package is comprehensive and covers both calls and text messages. It includes:
- 750 talk minutes. These can be used at any time, any day.
- Unlimited local mobile to mobile call minutes
- Domestic long distance calls
- Unlimited text messages
- Free night and weekend talk time
The Lifeline Plan also charges a one-time activation fee of $35.
Verizon Home Phone Connect Service
This plan requires a Verizon Home Connect Phone Device. It is a wireless device that serves as an alternative to the traditional landlines. It allows you to connect two phones on the same line. The device features 3-way calling, TTY, voicemail, and free access to emergency numbers. You will most likely be required to purchase this box upon enrolment to the plan. A decent second hand Home Connect Device cost about $30.
As for charges, the Verizon wireless free government phone program knocks off $9.25 off your bill, leaving you with only $10.74 a month.
The plan is more or less similar to the Lifeline Plan, with the major difference being the devices. It includes:
- Unlimited anytime talk minutes. This is the outstanding difference
- Unlimited local mobile to mobile call minutes
- Domestic long distance calls are included
- Unlimited text messages
- Free night and weekend talk time
The one-time $35 activation fee is also applicable to this plan.
International Calls Not Covered
The free government cell phone does not cover international calls. This is because the program focuses on providing essential service, and international calls do not qualify as necessities. To make such calls, you will have to incur the market charges of international calls
Additional Benefits For Tribal Land Residents
As already stated, the Lifeline Access program offers greater support for residents in Native American tribal lands. If you live in one of these areas, you’ll be accorded additional discounts in the Verizon wireless free government phone program. For starters, you are not required to pay the one-time activation fee of $35 charged in both plans. The second, and probably the largest benefit, is that you won’t be charged a penny for your monthly subscription plan. The government covers the entire cost of the service, that is $19.99 for the Lifeline and $25 for the HPC. Unlike other individuals who receive a $9.25 monthly relief, you get the full cost covered. The service is therefore 100% free to anyone residing in tribal lands.
What Happens When You Exhaust Your Plan Early?
Although the provided call minutes are often enough to last most people for the whole month, you may occasionally find yourself burning through them quickly. Should this happen, you always have the option of buying extra talk minutes from Verizon. The charges will, however, come from your pocket, as the Lifeline Assistance program does not cover any extra charges incurred by beneficiaries. Verizon, however, offers extra minutes to beneficiaries of this program at a rate lower than the standard market price.
What Kind Of Phones Does Verizon Offer?
Like all other free government cell phone companies, Verizon Wireless does not offer high-end devices for free. You are most likely to get a refurbished old model phone. This is because the company is trying to minimize the cost of purchasing phones for every new client. The phones are however decent enough to meet your needs; that is calling and texting.
Verizon, however, offers subscribers the option of upgrading the phone at an extra fee. This way you can get a device that can even connect to the internet, or even create a wifi hotspot. Additionally, you are always free to bring any phone of your choosing to the program.
What If You Are Already a Verizon Wireless Customer?
For customers already subscribed to regular Verizon plans, it is much easier to switch to the free government cell phone plan. All you have to do is confirm that the program covers your locality and that you meet the qualification requirement plans. You can then easily transit to the free plan. There will be no need to get a new device, as your current one will be compatible with the network
The Elderly Get Free Cell Phones For Seniors Verizon
Verizon Wireless once again proves itself to be caring for all customer groups. They offer specially designed easy to use phones for the elderly. This is a very brave move, as most companies really distance themselves from any product that is termed “for the old”. It is almost a suicide move in the technology industry. However, Verizon has been brave enough to create a phone for this niche that is largely ignored.
The reason behind this is that most elderly individuals are not well conversant with operating hand-held devices. Using free government touch screen cell phones is a nightmare for them. That’s why Verizon created free cell phones for seniors Verizon for the Lifeline Assistance program. This way, the elderly benefiting from this program get to use a handset they are comfortable with.
Verizon Wireless USA is one of cell phone companies offering free cell phone services under the Lifeline Assistance program. Beneficiaries of their free cell phone plans stand to benefit a lot, not only from their wide network coverage, but also from their comprehensive plans, and competitive pricing. You can look up if you qualify for their program and get yourself a Verizon Wireless free government phone.