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Free government phones in California and help paying phone bills.

Find free government cell phones, wireless devices, tablets or financial help to pay bills from the California Lifeline program. Combining both the state and federal government resources, the low income assistance program is available for families across the state. It will provide customers with a free device or reduced rate on their monthly cell phone, or landline bills. Or find how to get a free phone or tablet in CA from the government or Lifeline assistance below.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has implemented this telephone discount program for low income families nationwide. California has also adjusted the benefit to meet the particular needs of their residents. There will be free iPhones, tablets including the iPad, Samsung Galaxy smartphones and other devices from the government benefit program, including for people on EBT, CalFresh, disability or other government benefit programs. A major focus is on helping seniors, disabled people and the homebound have a way to communicate in an emergency.

There is also some additional support provided for the disabled or deaf as part of LifeLine. Unemployed people, if their income is low enough, in CA can also get a free call phone from the government program. So this partnership between the state and federal government have, if anything, enhance it and made it even more effective than it would have otherwise been.

The program, including a free tablet or cell phone, is generally for residents that meet certain low income guidelines, that have no money or that receive some form of state or federal government benefits, including CalFresh, CalWorks or other benefits. The application process is also in depth, and proof of income, expenses, number of household members and other information will be required as well. The discounts provided on your monthly telephone bills will only be available for either a cell phone or a home service, but not both. More information on the terms of LifeLine are below.

Applying for the Lifeline phone program in CA

In California, the program is a little more comprehensive. Those households that receive government benefits, such as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, CalFresh, SSI - Supplemental Security Income, TANF, or CalWORKs will qualify for a free cell phone, tablet or wireless device. There are many other benefits that apply as well, even including families with a child enrolled into Head start of free school lunches. In general, if the household receives any type of income support from the state of California or the federal government, then they will more than likely be qualified for LifeLine.




Even those families that are not enrolled in some type of public aid program can still receive a discount on their monthly phone bills or a free device, including an iPhone. However, they will need to meet the income conditions that are in place. While the range can change from year to year, it will normally be for a household with an income under $40,000 per year, if they have two members living in the home. For each additional person that lives at the residence, the approved income can range increase by about $8,000 per person. However these are general guidelines and terms can and do change.

For those that think they may be qualified, they will need to call a cell phone carrier or other provider. So companies such as Verizon, AT&T, TMobile or others will actually need to handle the application process and will need to pass on the savings. There are also many smaller providers of the LifeLine service in California, and examples of them will be Assurance, Freechoice, Matrix, Budget Mobile, Safelink and many others. More details on the companies that can provide a discounted cell phone or free Samsung Galaxy or iPhone can be obtained from the customer service number below.

It will take time for the administrators to review and approve any applications. During that period, customers may be provided with access to payment plans to pay for any connection costs, such as deposits, fees, or any other expenses that are required by the phone company. There may also be a waiting period involved before the person is provided with a free or low cost cell phone, so please plan accordingly. Then, if and when the application has been approved, the costs will be reimbursed to the applicant as part of LifeLine.

There some basic service levels that cellular companies need to meet as well per the terms of the LifeLine program. The customer needs to have adequate coverage and signal strength in their area, as well as access to apps for their smartphone. If they do not, then they can cancel their phone service. Or if they are using a home phone, then the service needs to be consistently maintained. If a customer is not happy with the quality of what they were provided with, whether a new government iPhone or tablet, they do have some termination rights if they decide to cancel within about 14 days.

Even if someone is provided a discount or a free home or cell phone (smart device or touchtone or iPad), they will also need to renew the LifeLine service every yea to keep the free cell service. This is required as part of the program. So the various income conditions, or access to benefits including EBT or food stamps, will need to be satisfied each year.





Applying for phone bill assistance or a free government phone in California

For more information, dial 1-866-272-0349. Customer service online and in apps is available in California as part of LifeLine in multiple languages, including Spanish, Korean, and Chinese. Representatives can answer information on program terms, give details on how to get a free phone, tablet or financial aid to pay a monthly bills. Or learn about the  application process in California.


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By Jon McNamara











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