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Free government phones or assistance with paying bills in Ohio.

Find how to get financial help to pay a phone bill in Ohio, discounted service, or even a free government cell or home phone. Telephone companies across Ohio participate in the Lifeline program in partnership with the federal government as well as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, or PUCO. Find how to apply for free service and financial aid for phone bills below.

The government provides discounts on monthly services or a free phone to seniors or low income families. There are programs to help pay for landlines, tablets, cell phones and other wireless devices such as tablets. In some cases there is also assistance for any installation or connection fees.

Types of phone bill help or free cell service in Ohio

The government funded service provides qualified customers with a discount, a free device or some form of credit on their monthly bill. The objective of the program is to help ensure low income families, the disabled or senior citizens can afford to pay for their service and have some type of access to communication.

This can be important when an emergency comes up, or maybe a senior needs to stay in contact with friends or relatives for medical reasons. Lifeline can help these individuals, and many others that meet the guidelines in Ohio, keep their telephone service connected while they work to increase their income and address their financial hardship.

The Lifeline program in Ohio is wide ranging. Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, AT&T, Assurance Wireless, Verizon, Frontier Communications, Cricket Communications, and many others participate. As a matter of fact, almost every phone company in Ohio will offer some version of Lifeline, though the income limits may be slightly different. Consumers can also inquire into any other assistance or payment plans they offer.

The discount will be provided on a monthly basis for home phone and/or cellular service. There may also be deposits waived as well as other bills or costs, such as installation. Or of course some low income families in Ohio can be given a free government phone, including from companies such as Safelink. If a households wants some features, such as call waiting or other features on their wireless phone, they will need to pay for those separately.




Several requirements need to be met by applicants in order to receive a discount from Lifeline. Clients will need to meet the low income guidelines that are in place, that are based on roughly 150% of federal government levels. However there can also be financial assistance or free smart phones or tablets offered for those residents that receive some form of federal government or state of Ohio benefit. So there is more than one eligibility criteria in place that can be met.

Families that receive, or have a member of the household that receives, Medicaid, SNAP Food stamps, SSI Disability Assistance, Section 8 housing vouchers, SSDI for the blind, or social security may also qualify for savings. In addition to that, many Ohio families that are able to enroll also receive low income energy bill help from HEAP or weatherization.

In almost all cases, residents on some form of public assistance can qualify. So they may also be able to receive telephone bill assistance from the Lifeline program as well as support for those other utilities or entitlements. Other qualified benefits are Ohio Works First (TANF) as well as the National School Free Lunch Program.

There can only be one phone covered (or free unit given) per household, and it can be a cell or landline. This will be one unit for all members of the home, regardless of how many people that is. In addition, the discount from Lifeline will only last for one year, and then the individual will need to reapply and also meet the income conditions that are in place at that time as well. So the telecommunication provider, or the state of Ohio, will continue to require proof of income, and government benefits, and other supporting documentation.





Contact information for Ohio phone bill assistance programs

To apply, people need to call their telephone company directly, or they can call their wireless provider. The applications are processed by those companies, working in partnership with state regulators. Another option is for individuals who want a free cell phone or assistance to pay a bill is to contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which can be reached at (800) 686-7826, as they regulate Lifeline and can help address any disputes. Staff are also available to answer questions of callers if and when needed.

By Jon McNamara

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