How to Qualify
Not sure whether you qualify for a free government cell phone with free minutes and texting? It’s actually pretty easy to figure out whether you qualify for a free phone. The simplest way is to see whether or not you are currently participating in a Federal or state assistance program. If you are, then great! That means you a very likely candidate for receiving a free phone with free minutes. However, if you are not currently participating in any Federal or state assistance programs, then the cell phone companies would have to verify your income. But that’s not something hard anyways. All you’d have to do is submit to the phone companies your tax returns and/or your pay stubs.
Qualification based on your participation of a Federal or state assistance program is actually income based qualification as well. Since you are participating in the federal program, it means that your income is already qualified, thus, you don’t have to qualify again for a free cell phone. If you are receiving assistance in the following programs, then you are eligible for a free phone.
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP).
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
• Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8).
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
• The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program.
• Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance.
• Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF).
• Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
• Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met).
• Other assistance programs in your state.
The other way to qualify for a free phone is through your household income. Household income includes income from all members of a household and includes wages, salaries, interest, dividends, spousal support and child support, grants, gifts, inheritances, allowances, stipends, public-assistance payments, social security and pensions, rental income, lottery winnings, income from self-employment and cash payments from other sources, and all employment-related, non-cash income. In order to qualify by income, you have to meet the guidelines set forth in your state. Most states look for income levels at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Some states will allow up to 150% such as Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas. The Federal Poverty Levels are as follows:
• $11,880 for individuals
• $16,020 for a family of 2
• $20,160 for a family of 3
• $24,300 for a family of 4
• $28,440 for a family of 5
• $32,580 for a family of 6
• $36,730 for a family of 7
• $40,890 for a family of 8
• Federal Poverty Level amounts are higher in Alaska and Hawaii
So for example if you lived in Texas and your household is a family of 4, you would calculate your income requirements using the following formula: 150% * $24,300 = $36,450. And if your household income meets these requirements, then you apply for a free cell phone.