Do taxpayers pay for free government cell phones?

There seems to be an ongoing controversy as to whether or not the “phones for the poor” programs by Safelink Wireless, ReachOut Wireless and Assurance Wireless are paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars. We are going to set the record straight.

Yes and no.

How’s that for clarity? The confusion arises because it depends upon whether or not you think a mandated fee tacked on to the phone bills of virtually almost every American is a tax or not. Some say it is, and some say it isn’t.

Federal Law requires telecom companies to contribute to the Universal Service Fund (USF), which in turn pays for the free cell phones program, in addition to funding telecommunications services (including high-speed Internet access) for eligible schools, libraries and rural health care providers.

A law of economics is that any tax on a corporation always results in the tax being paid by the consumer — taxes are always passed on. And this is the case with the telecom companies “contribution” to the USF. These companies collect the money from everyone that pays for phone service by tacking on a few cents to every phone bill. It’s listed on those bills as the Universal Service Fund.

To put it simply, the U.S. Federal government has mandated that every phone bill include this charge. And the charge, in part, pays companies who provide free cell phones for the poor — like Safelink, Assurance, and ReachOut — for each customer they sign up — some money for the phone and then an amount for each month of service.

Some consider a federally government mandated fee that funds government programs a tax, and some consider it a fee. We think the answer depends upon which side of the politically-charge government phone giveaway you are on.

What do we think? To be honest, to us a tax and a federally mandated fee are one and the same — so call it whichever you which. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think this is a valuable program for those in need. It is.


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  1. Randall says

    I was in Walmart in Florida in April of 2015 when a young lady asked if I would like a free phone. She asked if I was on Medicare not Medicaid but medicare. Explained that if I was on medicare I could receive a free safelink phone. She signed up hundreds of people and there were several such people throughout the store signing up hundreds of people. I now understand you need to be on Medicaid to receive a free phone but every person that signed up safelink received money from the government whether the people were eligible or not. This was a scam that we taxpayers paid for. It seems to me that there needs to be a little more policing of this program

  2. wanda says

    Someone really needs to investigate Assurance wireless Their extremely rude, Unprofessional and customer service is horrible. I’ve called multiple times to have my $10.00 top up converted into minutes and was told I could only use $5.00 at a time. So why not make the top up card with a starting increments of $5.00. The lowest top up card you can purchase starts at $10.00. Then to make matters worse, once your money is converted to minutes, they start charging you .10 cents a minute which eats up your money. I then request a phone number for Corporate..i found myself being challenged by the phone reps and being transferred multiple times..3 times it was the same male person, providing me a different name but the voice was still the same. I never got the telephone number for corporate. And was on hold for 1 hour. I feel like I need to contact the news to handle these issues. Does anyone have the Corporate telephone number.

  3. Laurie says

    Seems to me the more that is given the more that is needed.
    Many so called poor do their best to stay that way.
    Many would take a job if it was offered on a platter.
    I’m tired of paying for all these programs.
    Get people to work instead so they can pay for their own phone.

  4. Jimbo says

    I work 6 days a week from 7 am to 11pm at night 5 of those days. i love when I go grocery shopping and can only afford a few items I like and then here comes Laqueesha with an overflowing cart of food. Amazing. These people do absolutely nothing to help anybody including themselves. They sit on their fat lazy worthless asses all day and on top of it, they are demanding. I have a deep hatred for these people. They seem to have money to rent movies, games, etc. the welfare system has to change because us hard working Americans are paying for it. You leeche’s could die a painful slow death and I would stand right next to you and piss on your face as you are dying. Try working 80 hours a week and see how you feel. Karma will give you yours.

  5. Pat says

    Just received my Verizon bill for phone/internet/TV and there is $11.38 in federal taxes on it, but I don’t see a Universal Service Fund listed. There is 23 cents federal tax; $1.00 Access Recovery Charge; $6.50 for Federal Subscriber Line Charge; $1.25 Federal Use and $2.40 FTR Long Distance Charge. So which of these pay for those free cell phones for everyone who applies for one (or two or three?) When you add the state and local taxes, it adds $26.87 a month to the bill….

    • ronald says

      the fund is from the universal fund communication fund which is nearly 7.8 billion dollars per year or set of years depending. Each phone in america- business or private- and from other countries are tax a % that goes into this fund including the interest it accrues. This fund is then used to fund everything from libraries, schools, public, (includes everything telecommunication related) and of course these free phones programs … the FCC and then each state controls the rest.
      This program was started back 50-60 years ago for all telecommunications, and started to help states get the poor phone access under Clinton, and then Bush in 2008 push allowed cell phone part. It is not clear how much money is spent per phone but it is estimated at nearly 1-2$ per phone and 1$ per month per service which is still in the millions.
      But companies like Safelink are the ones pushing the most and paying the most because they make a nice profit out of it. Servicing the very needed and poor – they know this group most likely does not have land-lines or access to other forms of communications- they give so many mins per month initially and then scale it back to around 120mins which also includes 1/3 of minute per text. They will not release the numbers but some estimate that nearly 60% or more then go and buy 10-20$ more minutes every few months because most can go through 120mins pretty fast. They also have access to the names – and information of the poorest of each state which is then shared by third parties -which can also be quite profitable for companies.
      Democrats, Republicans, States and more love the program as it costs them very little – but allows increased access to their citizens for whatever reason and 911 calls or programs. Phone makers, phone services then give a kick back to all forms of government for this access in ways I hate to imagine.
      How do I feel about the program ? that is a tough one, per citizen the actual phone safelink program costs almost nothing but the companies that run these programs prey on the poor, ignorant, bad luck, mentally challenged, and helps to keep them that way. IT does add to overall safety, and security but almost all of these phones are tracked by the government way more then private plans – say through Verizon – which have pushed back against rogue wire tapping. Well thats as much as I know, and my thoughts.

    • Sandman619 says

      It does not show on your bill as a tax, because the telcos cannot tax customers. A service provider can use any term they choose, because they are accepting the funds for themselves. There is no law to break, no audit to ensure fairness, telcos can charge any amount they want to, it’s called capitalism & free market enterprise. The FCC taxes the telcos, who then charge their customers. By spreading it among their growing customer base, the fee that they recoup is less than a quarter, ie 25¢

      For fun, here is what AT&T says about their government fees & taxes billing:

      Administrative Fee
      Defrays expenses AT&T incurs
      Cell site rents
      Equipment maintenance
      Property Tax
      **These fees are not taxes or government-required charges**

      These charges are not included in the monthly rate they quote you when signing up for service with them. All wireless providers & telcos charge similarly. While I have no position over charging taxes to customers directly some of these are routine operating expenses that they are adding onto the customer’s monthly bill & making it look like a government tax, which is wrong. Maintenance & cell tower rents should not be disguised as a tax.

  6. LOL says

    we all pay it. it’s on my home phone. the bible says we should help the poor. it should be our choice though, not forced on us by government.

    Just got my FREE safelink phone. I do qualify since Im unemployed and on medicaid. I feel guilty for activating (have not done so yet its still charging)… but since “fees” or “taxes” from my home phone that I pay because it’s forced on me, then I guess I sort of pay for my FREE phone don’t I? All the taxes I pay in my state in the last 40+ yrs, I certainly have paid for my FREE phone.

  7. Jacque says

    I am so tired of hearing ” put ur self in our shoes don’t judge” heck ya I’m going to judge my husband and I ( and everyone else who work) are tired of paying
    For ur choices we work 7 days a week make sacrifices for our kids and for our way of life . No one has gave us anything and why should we have to pay for your phone if u want one go get a job ( yes there is jobs maybe not the one u want) your food housing … U have no right to except someone else to pay for u and your family yes I am for helping when needed short term most will live till they die off of goverment and breed kids to do the same so when I hear they r crappy old phones tough crap they r free all u do is set on ur a

    • Sandman619 says

      Current facts on public assistance:

      9/10 of the recipients of public aid are composed of the elderly, physically disabled & working poor.
      The most represented group is white Americans
      Average recipient is on public support for less than 3 months
      Government funds are restricted & not available to undocumented aliens, however, federal funds are given to the states to administer. While they cannot legally distribute federal funds to undocumented aliens, states do provide their own funding which can be distributed to whomever the state authorizes.

  8. Leonard says

    I don’t think anyone on here is saying everyone on public aid is just lazy or doesn’t want to work but we have all seen or know of abuse. The free cell phone is probably good for a portion of the poor public but are they using it for the intended reason. The thing that I see is the person with the link card talking on their smart phone in the grocery line buying all top name grocery items. I make a good living but I buy the house brand and choose not to spend the extra money for a smart phone. So how does a person qualify for food stamps afford to make the choice to have smart phone.
    Last gripe. My son does travel baseball and we sacrifice other things to make this happen. We traveled to Cooperstown NY for a tournament with hit our finances hard that year. However while in Cooperstown a baseball mom from Utah was using her link card to pay for her filet. Where is the need. By the way I was buying brats with cash.

    I believing supporting the needy with the basic needs to support life and health while they get themselves back on their feet. Being an unwed mother is not a disability and doesn’t keep you out of the work world for 18 years.

    When is the last time you saw a senior citizen use a link card? I never have

  9. Debbie says

    Kryss knows her stuff. She is totally 100 % correct in every sentence. People who don’t know all the rules and have imagined the possibilities of how this works and decide to be negative and hateful….well all I can say is…I cant wait for when it is their turn or a loved ones turn to be at the bottom due to illness or hardship and have to deal with haters that want to hate disabled , ill, elderly or weak people. What comes around goes around. There are crooked people everywhere, not just in the poor and disabled community. . Shame on you people who talk without truly having full knowledge and Shame on you for turning your backs on the disabled and elderly and poor—–you are inhumane and undeserving of any recognition of being an intellectual , problem -solving humanitarian. I would feel like a horrid person to not help or deny that there is a need and try to hel. It is out humane responsibility including our moral responsibility to do what is right and help those that cant help themselves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good post Kyrss !

  10. Kryss says

    The phone have 250 minutes, texts cost .10 of a minute… and the phones are for people who dont have one and need a phone for doctors, and such, you know, like for a potential employer to call? or how about calls to different social services/social security, utility companies etc… how often have you had to sit on HOLD for 30-40 minutes, hell even an hour or more… 250 minutes is NOTHING…
    There are strict rules for getting one as well. there can be no LAND line in the household, and there is a limit to ONE per address. So it isn’t like ‘welfare’ mom and all her 12 kiddies get one.
    A cell phone is only a luxury if you have other options, these phones are for people who DONT. not everyone has someone they can use as a “message phone” or even if they do, that can be relied on.
    It really pisses me off that people who are “better” than those who need these things think everyone who DOES are lazy, do nothing, “takers”… If you haven’t noticed, the economy sucks, and jobs are very difficult to find. People with COLLEGE degrees are working at McD’s… Get off your high horse, and actually pay attention instead of judging other people… NO ONE has a right to make judgements about others. You don’t know the details of anyone else’s life but your own, and I’ll bet $100 you dont know half as much as you think you do about relatives or neighbors…

  11. Mail Man says

    Isn’t having a cell phone a luxury? … as a city letter carrier working in an unprivgleged part of the city I would have to say for the most part the poor got it good, and it seems like its only getting better now, every day since March ive been delivering these phones like hot cakes, I see new public housing with central ac/heating, pathed driveways for there own parking? , I mean wow? Talk about a slap in the face, in the summer these ac units on constant overdrive, guess whos paying that bill too? U guessed it the guy outside dying from heat stroke working so I can pay my on bill!,… its a discrace to all people who try making a honest living and cant qualify for any type of help simply because the goverment says ” u make too much money”? I might just throw in the work towel too “the working man is the sucker” seems true anyways with this goverment!

  12. nucklebuster says

    just thought i would give my over view of safelink trac phone?
    i was a loyal customer for several years 5+ had problems a few times not getting minutes. seems when you call them it cost minutes i never gave that much thought? well when you reach a dead end 3-4 times with out speaking to any 1 but listening to automated messages this pisses 1 off. then when you do talk to some 1 its not english that can be understood?
    i never really used the phone much any how only when i would travel incase of a emergency . i had a landline in my home any how.the minutes keep rolling over for several months i had 1200+ minutes at 1 time to use got to the point where i think they safelink was not loading them each mth?
    about 8 mths. ago i had a big blob on the screen when i would turn it on and use it(keep in mind the screen being small hard to see) i call their customer service i had 1 hell of a hard time getting them to give me a new phone. phones dont last for ever! plus not 1 person spoke english so i had a hard time understanding them. so they shipped a new phone to me then the nightmare started the minutes i had 1200+ they gave me a hard time about transfer then . the phone would not activate for some reason? customer service said we will send a new phone. this was on a friday as i recall so i get nothing till monday . monday comes fed-ex comes with a flat package its a new sim card so i put this in the phone it works with all those minutes. great. 4 days later a new phone came i did not need a new phone the 1 i had worked fine. i told customer service that before the sent it. NO NEW PHONE!so i sent it back in the postal bag provided.i been real sick got medical bills i cant pay in my life time even withh blue cross. i got rid of my landline phone to save some cash ported the home phone number to safelink trac phone heck i thought i had 1200+ minutes . 1st of the mth. comes no minutes i try by phone to redeem no luck . so time goes on my minutes run right down from the second i dialed the phone till i hung up.even if no 1 answers. i got down to 28 minutes 1 day so i went to my local walmart to buy minutes i find out the phone is locked. so i call safelink trac phone use up my last 28 minutes talking to them with no help.SO NO MINUTES OR PHONE SERVICE! i emailed them no help or quick response.
    at that point i went to a at&t fusion#2 go phone its modern and you can see the screen.i ported that trac phone number to the go phone..
    3 days later i get a call and text and email my friend answered the phone when safelink called they wanted to make things right as their email this was a english speaking lady my friend said she wanted to record the conversation.once she found out that i was not home she turned off the recorder.
    after costing me my last minutes and all the b-s.they want to keep me as a customer?
    what do you think?

  13. CARROLL says


  14. Elisabeth O says

    The jobs created by “free phones” are overseas. I am disabled and low income (voted Republican,) but heck if I will use an “Obamaphone.” I got one, waited five months to activate (out of shame) when the phone proved to be cheap, battery doesn’t hold a charge, doesn’t activate but I get a message saying “out of air time. Pay for more.” I have spoken to customer service in India, Columbia and Central America. I have not asked for customer service after confirming their location. I have hung up or made my anger clear about their job and my crap phone and then hung up. It’s not the “fees/tax” we need to worry about. It the jobs sent overseas by our “fees and taxes”. If my parents who can afford to put me on their family plan decided to “unfamily” me, I will get a Metro phone (cheap as they are) for $40.00 month and support jobs in my neighborhood and city. Charity begins at home and only counts if it stays at home.

    • Cheeky aka dmk says

      At age 58, I’m am on my parents family plan, but only because they feel guilty. I’m tired of their abuse but at least I have a phone….for now. I was looking at going this route but I can’t afford mentally and physically to be with a phone that doesn’t work.
      The other thing I’ve see posted all over here today, is people wondering how us “poor” folks sucking off the system can afford internet? The cheapest I can find is 20.00 a month plus tax for 2mb/s DSL (the slowest available and still allowing basic websites to run…sometimes w/o flash enabled). I don’t have a landline phone as I can’t afford the $16.00 + a month for Lifeline with AT&T….besides that, Lifeline plus $15.00+ for dial-up is more than I pay now.
      I have no TV. I get my news and almost all my daily life’s interactions on the PC. I have a radio that gets poor reception so I listen to streaming radio. I don’t use Netflix, etc., I find full movies on Youtube and deal with the buffering.
      I have nothing else and can’t get to the library all the time. It’s been a long cold, snowy, icy, winter….yet people have looked at me for years and say crap like, “You don’t look like anything is wrong with you.” or “You don’t look sick”. Pain is INVISIBLE and I do my best to take care of myself because I hate going through life looking as bad as I feel.
      Unless you’ve walked in these shoes, don’t assume you even have a clue. I seriously wish people would grow some compassion.

    • nucklebuster says

      also i think the safelink trac phone is owned by a company in mexico i read that here on the web not long ago?the owner himself is a mexi. why not american 100% put jobs out there for us citizens.
      i had 1 of their phones they are remanufactured old phones this is why they have so many problems.
      also it boils down to profit for them giving a new up to date phone would cost too much its that profit. having service in other countrys costs less that why when you get service no good english spoken.
      this program is 100% abused by those who use period! these phones were made for emeregencys the commercials on tv show the lady broke down on the side of the road.their pitch to the poor to take advantage of tax dollars. lets actually find out who does own the safelink lets find out how much of it is based in the usa? then we ppl need action lets put them out of business in the usa!

  15. Donna says

    To JC – you need to make sure you facts are true: Lifeline was started under REAGAN

    The Lifeline program originated in 1984, during the administration of Ronald Reagan; it was expanded in 1996, during the administration of Bill Clinton; and its first cellular provider service (SafeLink Wireless) was launched by TracFone in 2008, during the administration of George W. Bush. All of these milestones were passed prior to the advent of the Obama administration. The Lifeline program is not directly subsidized by taxpayer monies. It is paid for out of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) through a fee assessed against telecommunications service providers, who may or may not pass those costs along to their customers:

    • Brian says

      However i has been expanded under Obama even further. Now they can pay a small amount (like $30) and have unlimited talk, text and web.

      The Lifeline program is for a home phone and the service was not free. It was a local calling plan in the days where you may have toll charges for calling accross town. It was a lower cost alternative for those who were elderly, disabled, etc.

      The problem with this and most governemnt programs is that they expand to the point of absurdity, not matter which party has control.

      However to be fair, in 2008 while bush was president, congress was fully controlled by the Dems. Since Bush didn’t sign it in as an executive order it was congress who passed the bill, Bush just didn’t veto it. Just a little chunk of the way a bill becomes a law, since they dont seem to teach that anymore.

      • Ashley says

        Hate to bursts your bubble Brian..but what you posted is not true! These BUSH phones can not access the web…there is NO “pay a small amount to get this extra” The BUSH phones are cheap LITTLE candy bar phones that can’t take a picture or access the web. You can make/take a call, and yes, Text. That is all. I believe what you are referring to is Straight Talk…its 45.00 a month for unlimited everything…but that is for ANYBODY. It’s just another cell phone company. Has NOTHING to do with the low income phones.

        • Diane says

          You’re right about the BUSH phones. BUT I dont know of any of them that have the text thing on it. Most of them dont.

          • Dan S says

            Sorry, Diane, as of this year-2013-Assurance started giving 250-FREE TEXT-in addition with the 250 talk minutes. I know, I receive this package monthly. I am not a texter but they are nice to have for emergency if minutes run low.
            Any more stupid, misinformed statements anyone? I didn’t think so.

  16. J says

    Haha I just got to see a commercial from assurance wireless and one of the lady on the commercial was at the gym lol

  17. J says

    I agree with some people in here. We hard workers have to pay $39 0r 50$ for a 250minutes.
    I wonder what other considerations the government though about before implementing this tax fees. I do believe that maybe olderlie people should have a phone for emergencies. But I have seen young people using this phones, people who stay home, drive BMW & Mercedez, live in nice houses, food stamp, section 8 and more. To me no fare! One of the reasons our country is on debt. I wonder why they didn’t give a code so that they could used a public phone and find out I their benefits. 911 is free on public phone as well.

    • Kim Taylor says

      “But I have seen young people using this phones, people who stay home, drive BMW & Mercedez, live in nice houses, food stamp, section 8 and more.”

      You must have an amazing ability to tell what phone provider a person has just by looking at them when they drive by in a car or when they are in their homes. Perhaps you should get a little government assistance so you can go back to school and learn how to use proper grammar and spell correctly.

  18. Donald says

    Where were all of you when President Regan signed this??????? 1984……it’s been around for a long time now…….oh, yeh, let’s blame Obama…..yeh, he’s the target…..just throw more bs about him…….yeh, let’s win an election on lies…….

    • jc says

      It was Clinton, not Reagan. I got the information straight from my phone company when this law went into effect. Reagan would have never signed a bill for free phones for ALL! Do your homework Donald.

      • Jason says

        In addition to what jc stated, it was for the lifeline program. The program did not give free services, just helped offset the cost and the primary recipients were the elderly and thise with major medical problems. This allowed them to have a home phone line in case of emergencies. Why couldn’t they just receive old used phones without minutes or a plan…they can still call out to 911 (emergencies, remember). It seemed to be good enough for domestic violence victims who did not have the means. Spew your lies elsewhere.

      • OJay says

        Actually, it WAS Regan in 1984 for landline phones. And GWB broadened the scope to include cell phones.
        Are you still angry?

  19. Mary Jane says

    I am very tired of paying for other peoples cell phone and house phone. I just looked at my cell phone bill and I paid $5.32 and my home phone I paid $2.63 for Universal Communication Service tax. I just saw a commercial that even said that there is texting on the free phone. I do not even have texting because I can not afford it.

    • Diane says

      I have to pay the same things on my home phone. We ALL have to. Deal with is what we do cause there is nothing we can do about it short of turning off our home phones. As for the texting on the free phones, that is a lie. There is none on mine. I am one of those that need a free phone. For doctors appts. and alot of other important things. Not all of us are taking advantage. Lots of us need this phone. I wont ever apologize for needing something and asking for help. Hope you never have to go through what others like me have to go through.

      • Free Government Cell Phones says

        You are incorrect, Diane. Your plan may not have texting, but several of the plans offer 250 texts along with 250 voice minutes per month.

      • Grace Morris says

        Diane, if you have a home phone…you don’t need a cell phone to make doctor appointments, etc., you can use your landline…I call it taking advantage & won’t apoligize for the fact!!!!!

  20. big man from maine says

    I consider myself a liberal, and this free cellphone business pisses me off. They get 250 minutes a month for ’emergencies’? If you are having this amount of trouble in your life that you are really making 250 minutes of emergency phone calls a month, you do not need a free cell phone, you need a new life. Being liberal does not mean giveaways to people who do not need it. This kind of nonsense is giving a bad name to legitimate services that people in need actually have to have.

  21. La says

    My Dad is 75 years old,is on social security AND drives a school bus to make ends meet. He probably would be eligible for one of these but prefers to pay for his own cell phone. I on the other hand strongly RESENT paying for this and plan to look into this further. The entire welfare system is a JOKE and needs to be reformed. I would guess that only about 11% of people that get benefits actually are in need of them. I realize that there are people with “special needs” that will require help for life. However, It pisses me off to see the capable but lazy people who continue to make welfare a way of life. Then they have the nerve to breed more welfare recipients. It is supposed to be a temporary crutch to help you through a rough patch. NOT AN INDEFINATE SOURCE OF INCOME!! Get a god damn job and get you hands out of my pockets !!!!!!

  22. joe patriot says

    when did it become a “right,” that people receive free phone service? and people wonder why this country is bankrupt…

  23. tripmom92 says

    Having a cell phone is not a right…. it’s a luxury item. The looney left says that you have a right to a cell phone and it’s the taxpayers responsibility to pay for it. If on disability,that’s different, those who are not able to provide yourself but a large number of these entitlement leeches/sponges that are capable of working, and should be paying for the own phones. I am tired of supporting everyone else. It’s take away from my family.
    You the constitution says “to promote the general welfare” this is where the looney left gets their reasoning, but the problem is that it doesn’t say to “provide for the general welfare, it just says to promote. Promote means to move forward, so it doesn’t mean to provide for the general welfare. promote means to encourage the general welfare. provide means to give.

  24. mike barber says

    I could support a program that allowed only a call to 911, but I resent paying for conversations that are strictly social. Let these freeloaders work for a living and pay like the rest of us saps.

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      Mike, there are calls that fall between 911 and “strictly social.” They include calls to doctors, calls to find work, calls to school, etc. It’s not that black and white.

      • Sher says

        I’ve seen the ads on TV for these phones. They PROMOTE calling family and friends for social purposes, not emergencies. They talk and the taxpayers pay. All of these federal give-aways are to buy votes, especially in this election year. This can’t go on forever and it won’t.

        • Nelson says

          You do realize that “social calls” as you put them, ie. calling parents, relatives, is a form of therapy for lonely seniors and disabled people. Like someone said before in this forum ” … and you call yourselves christian, catholic, etc”. I’m horrified at the inhumanity and disregard most of you are displaying. To quote the great Philip J. Fry : “I don’t want to live in this planet anymore”

          Are there people who abuse the system, you bet, but, does this mean that every person that uses the system does? No! Please don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

          I’m 35 years old, I’ve been disabled for 5 years. I worked since I was 12 years old. I have severe pain most of the time, to the point that I cant even eat by myself. I take care of my 77 year old mother and my 98 year old blind grandmother who has Alzheimer. We have a Safelink phone, its our only phone. We use it to call our doctor, and to call transportation services to pick us up when we are ready to head home (believe it or not, most doctors offices don’t allow you to use their phones to make pick-up calls). To be honest without that phone it would be almost impossible for us to take care of ourselves (we have no other family nearby).

          I came from a communist country, and for those who say these services are turning this country communist, then I invite you to spend a month where I came from (Cuba) and I’m sure you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at how wrong you were.

          Also, please excuse my English, its not my first language.

  25. Robert says

    Just another example of taking something from those who work and giving it to those who do not. I think Thomas Jefferson voiced an opinion on this very same issue. Ridiculous.

  26. Jules says

    If the schools and libraries have this service for the children then why are american children attending school has the lowest grade and iq. It’s because they use this service just to chat and surf the web and do absolutely nothing to educate themselves. Do you ever wonder what the hell to they learn in school? Why are they still dumb? Spending too much time chatting on cell phones and surfing the web.

  27. Nobama says

    I think everyone in protest should pay their phone bill each month ALL BUT THE FEDERAL TAX TO SUPPLY THESE PHONES TO FREELOADERS. If enough people did this then it would make a statement

  28. sue goodrich says

    my daughter is disabled and we don’t have a cell phone. she has seizures daily and is on a boat load of meds. i could probably get a free government phone, but we have a land line and pay for it ourselves. my husband works fulltime 1st shift and i work fulltime second shift so that someone is always home with our 25 year old daughter. when i see people who are not working, or on disability with arthritis in a knee, welcome to old age or fibromyalgia, say hello to old fashioned rheumatism, it infuriates me. who doesn’t have aches and pains as they get older? who doesn’t have arthritis? my husband is 63yrs. old and i’m 56 yrs. old with 2 fake knees, arhtritis and fibromyalgia. i take motrin and work 40 hrs. on my feet every night. so free cell phones? how appalling!

  29. Kassie says

    If you want to be angry at someone; don’t get angry at the poor and disabled. Get angry at the former (and now dead) President Ronald Reagan who started the LifeLine program back in the 1980’s. Learn to do some research instead of just blaming Obama for everything. Also this USF fee helps to go to put internet in schools, libraries and other places….But I guess those services shouldn’t be offered either right? Probably because its the poor who use the library for the internet and they don’t deserve access in your opinions…..

    I am disabled and very ill and don’t get enough money from my Social Security to be able to afford a landline phone, let alone a cell phone. However, my ReachOut Wireless phone helps me to be able to keep in contact with my family, allows me to be able to contact my doctors for appointments, call to get transportation to those appointments, call my pharmacies for my medicines, check on my elderly parents, be able to be contacted by my son’s school if necessary; and have the security of knowing that if something happens to me or my son; that we can call for help.

    There was even an instance where one of my medicines was causing my liver to have problems and if left untreated could have caused me to get very very sick, and go into liver and kidney failure, and without my ROW phone, my doctor wouldn’t have been able to call me and inform me and change my medicines…..But I suppose to some of you that shouldn’t matter right? Let me die and orphan my son….Just one less “Free loader” you have to pay a quarter a month for.

    Some of you who have commented make me physically sick. You should hear yourselves, sounding all high and mighty, I bet some of you claim to be such good Christians too then you sit there and judge others……and I won’t even go into the one person up there who wishes to disenfranchise a whole bunch of voters because they feel that the “Freeloaders” do not deserve the right to vote, totally disregarding the Constitution where it says everyone has the right to vote, even the poorest of the poor. Its extremely shameful and embarrassing to me to read some of these comments, I worked as a Nurse and EMT and cared for the men and women of my country, saving lives and healing the sick, and now that I am one of the sick, the people who now live in my country would rather spit me out to the side of the road like an old, flavorless piece of chewing gum than pay a few cents so that I can have a phone. Its not the “Entitlement attitude” that is destroying America, it is the attitude of “I got mine, I don’t give a eff about you” that is.

    So those “haters” out there should stop judging others without knowing anything about a person’s situation. When I was able to work and afford a phone, I too paid the USF tax and never complained, and now I am grateful and thankful that there are programs out there like ROW to help people like me.

    • Philip Grady says

      you can do all those things from a land line with vonage for less than $10 dollars a month. No matter how you couch it a cell phone is a luxury not a nessesity. I all ready contribute to your welfare through social security disability. I do not feel obligated to provide you a cell phone.

      • Heather says

        Miss Kassie, you are mistaken. The lifeline phone program was started by Bill Clinton (D) in 1996. I took this right off the website: “So, the subsidization of phones began under President Clinton, and has continued under Presidents Bush and Obama.”
        I’m sorry you’re ill and I’m sorry for the disabled. My daughter is disabled and has been since birth. Her father walked out when she was 2 because he couldn’t handle it. I never got child support because he worked under the table in construction. What I did do though, was work 2 jobs to support us and take care of her and I never got subsidized housing, food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc. and I always paid for my own phone bill. Now, she’s 25 years old. She has a cell phone of her own now. How?? Because I pay for it!! So I pay for yours, mine, hers, everyone’s cell phone too! Hey Mr. Obama!! Is this what you call fair?

        • Nelson says

          From :

          “The LifeLine and Link-Up programs were established by the FCC in 1984 and 1987, respectively, during the administration of Ronald Reagan.
          The SafeLink Wireless service was launched by TracFone in Tennessee August 2008 and in Florida September 2008 months before the election that put Barack Obama in the White House.”

          So as you can see, President Obama had nothing to do with the free cellphone program.

  30. Ira says

    Just saw an add on TV, became curious, then I found this site.
    I resent the corrupt & morally void pseudo elites in DC stealing money from those who work in order to buy votes from the parasites. If they would do their intended constitutionally restricted jobs (that would reduce the government’s bloat, the budget and congressional terms) by 70%) & leave us to do ours we will take care of our own (while they try to find honest jobs like we are).
    There are those who truly do need help with the basics but free wireless is not on that short list. It is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; not “Let me bleed you so that I can have the life to which I would like to become accustomed.” Need to go or I may start going into detail about the way I deeply feel about this whole subject………

  31. Jody Connoy says

    Don’t care how you look at it. This is NOT any entitlements you get as an American citizens and should not have any funding for such a cell phone program, even if there is the poor has a need. A cell phone is not required to live and neither is a TV. Why is it all poor people have more TV’s, luxury items and eat better than people who work? Why is it people who work and shop are frugal with their money and the people on food stamps eat well. In fact, many of the wellfare people I see with their kids on WIC and collect food stamps are extremely overweight, which tells me they are eating quite well.

    Bottomline is the poor might find a cell phone useful. Then someone can create a non-profit and those who want to donate for the cause can do so with a tax deduction. But hard working families should not be asked to pay for others services, especially when its not the basic food, water and shelter. Give me a break!!!!!

  32. Charles Yahn says

    Another government give away program that is completly out of control and being paid for by the taxpayer. Put in place by the corrupt politicians for acguiring votes from the free loaders. TIME TO TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK, FOLKS.

  33. Shean McManus says

    For the generations before us who have paid their dues to Social-Security and literally built this country up after WWII, this is not meant for you! You deserve the support you have so painstakingly earned during your WORKING years!
    What has happened to our country?
    Do we remember the words “Ask not what your country can do for you, rather, what you can do for your country” ?
    See how far we have fallen in to socialism and entitlements. Today, people expect to be taken care of and an entire generation is now being raised on welfare money with unwed mothers who do not marry to keep the monthly checks flowing in and continue to reproduce off spring in order to get a “raise” in their “paycheck”. Rent Money, Food Stamps, Cell Phones, and Socialist health care on the way… Why should someone work for minimum wage (at an entry level job) and give up all these expensive perks!
    It’s one thing to need some help to get through a tough times, it’s an entirely difference thing to expect others to provide you what others work hard to achieve for themselves.
    It’s an Obamanation!

  34. Alicia Carvalho says

    Im a little confused….not to long ago no one had cell phones..why do people that cant afford them need them??? My friend just told me about this so all this time i have been payin for FREE LOADERS to get cell sorry but thats BS!!!! And what am i paying for it with my house phone as well??? I dont get this its really messed up but hey the government just keeps puttin it in deeper and deeper in our as*es!!!!!!! Everyone bendover!!!!

    • Heather says

      Check your phone bills – cell and landline phone bills – for something that says: Federal Universal Service Fund Fee. Don’t you love it??? They call it a fee!! Lol!! It’s a tax on those that can pay it to give something for free for someone that wants it but can’t pay for it. You know what I used to do when I wanted something but couldn’t pay for it?? I did without! That’s what! In my parent’s day, if they couldn’t afford a home phone, they went in on a phone line with neighbors and they all shared the phone line. Each one had a phone but they shared the line and it saved them all money on their bill. It was called a ‘party’ line. Where does this crap end?? Gotta have cell phones, gotta get free breakfast, lunch, and now dinner in public schools, gotta get free computers, big rebates if you buy a house or a new car, free birth control, free health care…. WHY?? Home come I had to pay for all these things when I was young and struggling and now that I’m older and can afford a little more I have to pay for everyone to get the things I had to work hard to pay for? And notice if you will, it doesn’t say anywhere on the requirements for a free phone that you have to be an American citizen! THIS MAKES ME SICK!! Remember this when you vote in November 2012. And if you don’t vote, don’t complain about shoveling all your hard earned money over to the government to hand out goodies to people so they’ll continue to vote for them and keep them in office!!

      • tripmom92 says

        well said Heather. Our welfare entitlement need some serious reform.
        I too am tired of supporting everyone else. Today’s generation is a generation of spoiled brats and they don’t want to work of anything. The generation of me…. generation you owe me….. etc….

      • kentuckywoman2 says

        I guess neither you nor anyone else in your family has/is/will collected/collecting/collect Social Security or Medicare, right? Because if you/they have/do/will, you’ll be guilty of taking something that someone else paid for. So please keep your greedy, selfish, nasty opinions to yourself until you actually know what you’re talking about.

        • rmerrill23310 says

          Comparing Social Security/Medicare which are programs that predominantly help people who are unable to work or who are elligible for retierment, to a program which provides a luxury (not a necessity) to millions of a Americans who CAN work, is obsurd. I believe in helping others but our Government assistance prgrams in the country are way out of hand. We are a point where more people do not pay taxes/get a refund than the people that do pay. We need to have mandatory drug testing for prgrams such as these because all we are doing is enabling and condoneing the problem.

      • wall says

        I am. A. Us citizen, caucasion, tax payer,retired.
        I donot qualify for food stamps, to any to the perks, except senour discounts at resturants. All the other freebies i do not qualify.
        I would like t have a free phone service but i do not want to to to jail for perjury to get one. Why do we. Legetimet tax paying us citizens not get some free helps?????!!!!

  35. william benson says

    I really don’t get it, how can tax payers pay for free phones for the “so called” poor.
    Making availbale services to the poor is a good thing, but this free phone thing has crossed the line I believe. Some of those who are getting phones do have an income and can afford a phone. I don’t believe these “poor people” are being checked out properly. What are the requirements for income to be eligilbe? Who decied this program? I don’t recall it being on a voting ballot.

  36. H.HARRIS says


    • lanaym says

      It is no wonder so many people are on public assistance. Why work when they are given so much for sitting on the couch. The elderly have to choose between food, heat, healthcare or medicine and others that have never worked a day in their lives are given all these freebies

  37. antag says

    At the very least this program should be curtailed — eliminate the long distance, international long distance (safelink says to 100+destinations) and text messaging and voicemail. Good Grief!

  38. tony says

    Cellphone companies are making millions off this thing. Why doesn’t the government supply the phone itself. Nooooo, because it is a scam by the Feds and telecommunication companies to make money!!! I am tired of paying taxes and have it go to lazy, jerks that sit around and get fed off my money! Write Congress and get this stopped!!

  39. Mary Romero says

    I feel as though these “free” cell phones are stealing from people that actually work for a living. Why should tax payers supply phones for people. If it was for the “poor” or elderly I would not have a problem, but it isn’t. I have seen with my own eyes, people that have been arrested for drugs, etc that have these phones. Give them a land line with basic service!!! Enough is enough. I am tired of having to pay for these free loaders!!!!

    • Yvonne says

      I am sick and tired of paying for cell phones,rent,food,medicine,and everything else drug users and low lifes get,I am all for drug testing for these benefits,Not for the elderly but for the ones that are able to work just not willing..WHERE will it stop??????? VERY SORE SUBJECT FOR ME!!!

  40. Anita Bias says

    I am disabled, live alone in a Federally Subsidized housing, I want a safe link phone, how do I get one. Thank You,