Updated on 12/15/22
The Federal Communications Commission has been getting plenty of applause for amending the rules of the Lifeline Assistance program to eliminate fraud. But buried deep in the amendments was one change that is sure to please applicants for the program:
Establishing a one-per-household rule applicable to all providers in the program, defining household as an “economic unit” so that separate low-income families living at the same address can get connected.
In plain English, that means one household can now qualify for multiple free government cell phones.
This solves one of the primary problems the Lifeline program has created for needy Americans. As the economy has worsened, many low-income families have found themselves sharing a home with other families in an attempt to cut their monthly expenses.
Lifeline’s original rules stated that only one free government cell phone was permitted per household. While the rule was undoubtedly designed to control fraudulent, multiple accounts per household, it unintentionally resulted in harming these multi-families households by restricting the ability of each of those separate families to qualify for the free phones for which they would have qualified if the economy hadn’t forced them to share a home.
“We salute the Federal Communications Commission,” said Mark Henry, editor of FreeGovernmentCellPhones.net. “They’ve solved a nagging problem and now more people who really need free cell phones can get them.”
Of course, this will add to the cost of the Lifeline free government cell phone program, but the FCC has also figured out a way to pay for it.
The commissioners plan to save as much as $2 billion over the course of three years by eliminating the fraud, waste and abuse that has plagued the Lifeline program.
“We’d like to see the FCC revisit this very soon,” Henry added. “Residents of homeless shelters still don’t qualify for the free government cell phones and no one needs them more. We urge the FCC to correct this oversight at the earliest opportunity.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must already participate in another state or federal assistance program, such as food stamps (SNAP), public housing assistance, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, Supplemental Security Income, various Home Energy Assistance Programs, National School Lunch and other programs.
You may also qualify if your household income is at or below 135% to 150% (depending on your state) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Until now the guidelines said that only one free government cell phone was allowed per household.
But that regulation is now a thing of the past.
UPDATE: The new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has raised a lot of questions and we’re here with the answers. Readers ask, “Will any of the new regulations change the one-per-household exemption?” The simple answer is no. ACP will give you unlimited talk, unlimited texts, and unlimited internet, but it will not give you an unlimited number of free government cell phones per household. (We apologize if our pathetic attempt at humor fell flat.)