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Financial help paying phone bills from telephone assistance program.

To help ensure that some form of telephone service is both affordable and available to all Americans, especially lower income families as well senior citizens, the federal government created an assistance program that is run by individual state governments. There is also financial help given to customers that are facing a financial hardship or a short term crisis. Each state listed below will provide its residents a combination of credits on a existing telephone bill plan or they may offer free cellular or home phones to low income households.

The first component of this program, known as Lifeline, will provide lower income consumers along with people living in poverty a discount of up to $15 per month, depending on the state where the applicant lives. The savings will apply to the local service portion of your telephone bill. The discount can last for a year or even longer.

Then if you also select the lowest cost residential service plan that is offered by your local telephone company or wireless provider, that will ensure that those in need have an affordable monthly telephone bill. This assistance program does not provide discounts for long distance charges or special phone features such as Caller ID or Call Waiting. Note that the government Lifeline program will even provide financial aid for buy a cell phone as well.

The second component of the government telephone assistance program is Link-up. This will pay for half of the telephone installation charges or deposits. The credit is given to someone installing a new telephone service in their home or that is activating a wireless phone. The amount of cash assistance paid out will be to a maximum of $50.00 or so, depending on your state.

Link-Up is also flexible. It will even pay for cell phone service as well as a more traditional landlines. Link-up is but one program offered by many states and local organizations. Find additional government assistance programs.

To further reduce the initial cost to families to establish this new telephone service, consumers that need help can also request to your local phone company that the balance of the installation charge be divided over a period of several months. So you can pay the initial installation costs over a period of time rather than having it due immediately.




Also, in many states you will not be required to pay a deposit if you request "local phone service only" and also request "long distance block" when connecting your service under This is another form of financial help from Link-up that can benefit low income families. In addition, the Link-Up program will also let consumers borrow up to $200-$300 of setup fees, interest-free, for up to one year time frame, so customers can technically get a zero percent interest loan to help pay their phone installation bills.

This program was created to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers across the nation. The government wants to help provide them access to some form of communication service, and even cellular phones, at affordable rates. The Lifeline program is funded by the Universal Service Charge which is billed to all cell phone users across the county.

How do you qualify for Link-Up and Lifeline?

Each state has its own criteria. Individuals that receive some form of public assistance, including, but not limited to, SNAP food stamps, TANF, Section 8 housing vouchers, or SSI may be qualified. The government Link-Up and Lifeline Telephone Assistance Programs are available in every state across the country. People can even be eligible for the program if they live in US territories and commonwealths.

A household can only enroll into the program one time, so that means only one account can be subsidized by this government benefit. They can also only use one phone per residence, so select a cellular or home phone that is to be covered. Currently since states have their own Lifeline program, they will have their own criteria for being able to apply.





Some states will even partner with private companies and telecommunication providers to provide these telephone assistance programs to their residents. Or a municipality will work with other companies in the state to pass out free phones to people living in poverty as well as the elderly or disabled.

Individuals can also dial the Universal Service Administrative Company at 1-888-641-8722 to learn more about the Lifeline or Link-Up programs or other related plans. Or call your telephone or cellular provider and inquire into this with customer service. The FCC also has information on low-income phone discounts. All phone companies, including AT&T and Verizon, will have information available to qualified low income customers.

Find low cost, high speed Internet service that can be used for telephone calls

Another option for lower income families is to explore programs that provide low cost Internet access. Cable companies such as Comcast and others offer this to households with children that are enrolled into school. So the family can use the Internet for both every day tasks and also to make telephone calls, using services such as Skype. So Lifeline can be combined with these programs from Comcast and other providers for significant savings. Find more details on low cost Internet.

Free cell phones with discounted pricing plans

There are companies that provide low income families with a free telephone as well. This is also available as part of the Lifeline program, and both SafeLink Wireless as well as Assurance provide millions of consumers this service. Some providers will not need a contract either. Anyone who gets a phone, or has one now, can also find details on how to make money using apps on a cell phone, which is free to do.

While the phone may not be the latest model available, it will almost always provide access to the Internet, come with texting functions, and have many other features. Not only can an individual get a free phone from this component of Lifeline, but the monthly plan provided to them will also be much less expensive than their competitors. The program can help them cut back on the bills associated with their monthly plans. Learn more information the Assurance free telephone programs.

The federal government also partners on these programs as they are paid for using taxpayer dollars. This means that if a household does not qualify for a free telephone phone from one company, there are many others they can try. The FCC regulates this service on a national and local level in an effort to ensure that all low income families have the ability to communicate in an emergency. For more information, locate free government funded phone programs.







Low income senior citizens can also receive a free wireless or home phone. This is part of the Lifeline service listed below. The primary reason that the elderly may be given priority is it can help them ensure they have some form of communication for medical reasons, such as calling a doctor. The free phone as well as minutes given to them can also combat loneliness of our elderly population. Find how seniors can get free phones.

Information by state to apply for help with phone bills
















New Jersey

New Mexico

New York





North Carolina










Additional ways to get phone or cell bill assistance

Another option is to contact a non-profit agency in your county. The Lifeline telephone assistance program is part of the Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund. Many community action agencies can also refer people to the program and provide more information on Link-Up and Lifeline.


By Jon McNamara

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