Telephone assistance programs in Massachusetts, including Lifeline, can provide low income families with a monthly discount on their phone bill. There are several terms and conditions in order to enroll into it, and the goal is to ensure that all families have access to some form of communication. Both the state as well as the FCC fully support providing savings to income qualified households.
The program can only cover one phone per home, regardless of whether it is a landline or wireless unit. However, there can be some cases in which a family can receive the entire phone for free, and this is available from companies such as Safelink Wireless and a few others. In either case, Lifeline has been a very effective resource in keeping phones activated for senior citizens, individuals facing a hardship or that have had a reduction in income, as well as the disabled, among others.
Lifeline is not only for those residents with a very low income, but there is also help for households that have at least a member of the home enrolled into some federal government or state of Massachusetts program. Also, the applicant’s credit score will not matter, as that is sometimes a barrier in signing up for some type of communication service.
When applying for Lifeline, the applicant needs to satisfy all of the program terms. The first one includes income. The federal government and state have put thresholds into place and the customers income can’t exceed them. While the dollar amount of that cut off can change from year to year, it will generally be around 150% of the federal poverty level, and this will also factor in the number of children or members of the home or apartment. So the more people, the higher the income can be.
Or another requirement in Massachusetts is someone can apply if they receive some form of public benefits. If the person is receiving aid from the state or federal government, then they will automatically qualify for a discount on their telephone bills. While it can be any government program that qualifies a person, some of the common ones include TANF - Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, MassHealth/Medicaid, SNAP food stamps, LIHEAP, or many families have a child in the National School Lunch Program, and they can also enroll.
The discount is only for standard phone service and not for long distance or special features such as call waiting. The cell phone carrier will not pay for those types of features. While the amount of monthly savings will also vary, it can range from $10 to $20 per month, and there may also be assistance for establishing a new service and paying for any connection fees. For those that are found to be eligible in Massachusetts, there are no contracts, activation or monthly fees involved, so the entire program is offered at no cost.
All applications are submitted directly to the phone company, so that is who someone should call if they need more information or think they are qualified. Verizon, AT&T, and other providers have staff that are well trained on the Lifeline terms, and they can answer any questions. It is strongly recommended to have proof of income, and any benefits being received, and other information before calling a company, as they will request this from the customer.
In addition to those program terms, customers in Massachusetts can also look into an entirely free cell phone. There are two providers that can offer this, and they are TracFone from SafeLink Wireless as well as Virgin Mobile and their Assurance Wireless service. Anyone interested in those options needs to contact the companies directly.
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