Can you imagine having a physical or mental disability plus not being able to afford a phone? We can only say, it’s not the best combination to live a comfortable life. Luckily, the FCC has addressed this issue through its free phone program for disabled persons. That’s wonderful, right? But how do you get free phones for disabled people?
To get free phones, you have to apply for either a Lifeline or an ACP program. Find a suitable carrier and send your application through them. You might have to show documents of proof to verify your eligibility.
It’s okay if you still haven’t heard of the program yet. Here, we have answered any questions you might have about this topic. So, if you are interested, let’s jump into it.
Overview Of Free Phones For Disabled People Program
Not many people are aware of the free phone program. Famous carriers regulate programs that facilitate less-fortunate individuals with a new smartphone of their choice. This program is fully funded by the Federal Government.
There has always existed some kind of grants from the government to help the needy. But, people need more than a monthly allowance to live a life of dignity. And, a smartphone is on top of that list.
Here are some reasons why disabled persons require free phones:
Disabled persons have a higher need to stay connected to their close ones. If you are out, you might want to update your friends and families about your condition. If anything goes wrong, your phone can be a great tool to ask for help.
Better Medical Care
A disabled person needs medical treatment more often. Sometimes, you would require a fast response from your doctor. A phone would help to connect you with the nearest hospital. The ambulance can be at the door within a few seconds after you make the call.
Which Programs Provide Free Phones For People With Disabilities?
There are mainly two programs that support low-income disabled citizens with free phones. The application process is pretty much identical for both programs.
It is the first program ever introduced to provide this kind of grant. Apart from a one-time discount on device purchases, you also get a monthly allowance.
It is for the wireline or internet bills. But the program won’t cover both your landline and cell phone. You can include only one. The FCC provides $9 to $34 monthly depending on your condition.
It is the short form for the Affordable Connectivity Program. It has come to light in 2021. Before that, people knew it as the EBB program. It supplements the lifeline program.
Because after Covid-19 hit, the use of mobile devices has risen dramatically. The lifeline allowance couldn’t cover it anymore. Here, you will get $30 to $75 monthly depending on your condition.
Which Cellular Provider Gives Disabled People Free Phones?
Finding a suitable service provider is the first step in this process. Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as we would like it to be. Because not every provider is big enough to work simultaneously in the whole country.
As a result, you might not find the provider someone on the internet suggests. But don’t worry. Here, we have gathered the best three cellular providers that are available across the country (or at most parts).
Assurance Wireless is a part of the T-Mobile mobile carrier. Their service is available all across the U.S.A. It doesn’t matter what city you live in. You can receive your free phone from assurance wireless. T-Mobile established this branch to carry out the Lifeline and ACP programs effectively.
T-Mobile remains on the front line when it comes to promoting inclusivity. For example, they charge the lowest fees for the senior 55+ unlimited plan (only $27). No doubt, their free phone program is super reliable.
You can visit their official website to learn more about the eligibility criteria (https://www.assurancewireless.com/).
The offer includes:
- Unlimited data, messaging, and talk time at no cost.
- 10GB mobile hotspot
- Access to T-Mobile’s Fast network
- New Phone
- Scam-block activated
Easy Wireless is operated by the AT&T network provider. It’s a very popular provider with a strong 5G network. Easy Wireless was established only to support low-income households through ACP or Lifeline program. It has built two separate plans for free phones-
- for low-income people and
- for tribal communities.
It ensures that nobody is left behind. Even if you don’t become eligible through income, you can try the other one. However, it is still not available in every state. Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas are some of the states where they operate.
To get a free phone, check out their official website (www.myeasywireless.com).
The offer includes:
- A free smartphone
- Unlimited texts and data
- Free access to Wi-Fi hotspot
- $120 Tablet at only $10.
SafeLink is another trustworthy name when it comes to lifeline services. It was previously owned by TracFone wireless. SafeLink was a branch that oversees the whole “free phone program” for underprivileged groups. But now, it works under Verizon mobile carrier.
For your information, Verizon has taken over TracFone wireless and all its branches. That includes SafeLink as well. Luckily, Verizon didn’t interrupt social work at all. Instead, SafeLink is now stronger than ever with the high-speed network coverage from Verizon.
You can check out the website for further information: https://www.safelinkwireless.com/
The offer includes
- Free (350) minutes per month
- No limit on messaging
- Free access to 911
- Free access to 411 directory
- 3-way or conference call at no additional cost.
- New Smartphone
How Can Disabled People Apply For And Receive Free Phones?
You must have already understood the perks of participating in a Lifeline or ACP program. But, how do you do that? that’s a more appropriate question right now. So, here we are with our step-by-step guide to the application journey. Take a look.
Check For Eligibility
First of all, you need to check your eligibility. As we have said, being disabled wouldn’t make you eligible automatically. Unfortunately, neither the Lifeline nor the ACP is granted only based on disability. You have to qualify like everybody else. But there are several ways for that.
The FCC might accept your application if you are disabled with a low income. Your annual income has to be below 200% of the current poverty limit. Previously, it was 135% (for the EBB program).
Now, the authority only wants to grant this assistance to people with real needs. You can prove your income through an income statement from your company.
If you can provide sufficient documents for the low-income level along with some other government benefits, you don’t have to show any disability proof. Because only the fact that you are living below the poverty line will get the authority to accept you.
Through Social Security
It would be good if you receive SSI or SSDI benefits. It would prove that you are indeed unable to lead day-to-day life like everybody else.
People sometimes think both SSI and SSDI are identical or mean the same thing. That’s a misconception. Because SSDI means social security disability insurance and SSI refers to supplemental security income.
SSDI is the monthly amount your receive from the government post-retirement. If you receive this benefit currently, you have to still qualify for the Lifeline or ACP program.
In the case of the SSI, you don’t even have to provide the income documents anymore. Only the mention of SSI benefits is enough to make you eligible. Because it is provided to underprivileged households and the FCC has a record of them already. So, no further background check is necessary
Through Other Government Assistance
If you have a disability, you might accept some form of government assistance. Especially, if your disability doesn’t allow you to work at all. All you have to do is provide the certifications, cards, or documents that you use to receive the allowance.
Some useful assistance programs include:
- Veterans & Survivors’ benefits
- WIC-women, infants & children (nutrition support)
- Free Lunch Program- For your kids
- Pell Grant
- The SNAP-supplemental nutrition assistance program
- Food Stamps
The next, step is to find a carrier within your area. Make sure that your carrier offers lifeline or ACP in the first place. Because the regional carriers do not carry such facilities with them.
Once, you have chosen a carrier, visit their official website. There, you can just put your “zip code” and see whether the service is available in your area or not. If the answer is positive, you need to fill up a small form.
It includes your name, date of birth, home address, contact information, national ID, and other documents. The process is not identical for every carrier. But it would be really easy to understand as you keep going.
At the last stage, you have to select the type of phone you want. There is no guarantee that you are going to receive that particular piece. It depends on availability.
Finally, just wait for 5 to seven days for your parcel to arrive.
Ask For Help
If you have a disability that prevents you from completing the process by yourself, you can ask for help.
Just visit the website-(www.lifelinesupport.org). Here, you will easily find front-line volunteers who will send the application on your behalf. Or, you can make a call right now at 800 243 9473.
List Of Free Phone Models For Disabled People
You don’t know what phone you might receive. Even if a carrier is showing an iPhone 7 on the list, it might be out of stock. You might end up receiving a flip phone. That’s something you have to accept.
However, you are allowed to mention your likings during the application process. So, we can hope that you will get something close to what you chose.
Here are the best phones available in the free phone program. Have a look.
iPhones are the most popular choice in this program. Almost everybody wants one. But, for a disabled person, an iPhone can really be more useful than others. As we know, it has an option for voice commands.
It’s wonderful for people who want a touch-free iPhone 7. You can pretty much text, call, or surf the internet without occupying your hands. It would be helpful for a blind person as well.
- Comes with a 2GB RAM
- Battery Power: 1960 mAh
- Resolution: 2160 pixels
- Screen-to-body ratio- 65%
iPhone SE holds the place of second best after the iPhone 7. It has pretty much every feature including the voice command. However, we think it’s very cool because of its lower screen-to-body ratio (only 60%).
As you know, it is harder for kids, seniors, and disabled persons to operate a touch screen phone. Simply because they are not as swift with their hand movements as the rest. That’s why iPhone SE can be a great help when it comes to handling the phone.
- Comes with 2GB of RAM
- Battery power- 1624mAh
- Resolution: 2160 pixels
- Screen to body ration-60.8%
Samsung Galaxy S8
It would be unfair to think that disabled persons only need an easy-to-handle phone. If you are someone who is trying to work efficiently online despite having a disability, your demands are different.
We think the Samsung Galaxy S8 is all you can ask for. It has a sleek body with a bigger screen. Plus, the battery backup is quite long and consistent.
- Comes With 4GB RAM
- Battery Power- 3000mAh
- Resolution: 2160p
- Screen to body ration-83%
- OS-Android 7.0
Home phones For Seniors
All these sleek models might not interest a senior citizen. The good news is, that you can ask for a land phone instead of a cell phone. But the rule says only one phone per household. So, if you have already ordered a land phone, you can’t reapply for a smartphone.
We have only mentioned the free models, which we think would be the best fit for a disabled person. But the real list is longer and different for every carrier. The other models are from LG, Motorola, and Nokia.
Providing free phones will not erase all the obstacles in a disabled person’s life. We know that. But, it can reduce the numbers.
You won’t have to worry about minor things like medical consultations or calling your family. Plus, you can enjoy the features of a high-tech phone without paying a penny.
We think it’s an applaudable initiative. As for the enrollment process, you can follow our guide for that. Good luck!