Through Lifeline Assistance, the government provides free cell phones for eligible citizens, which are those with financial difficulties. Everyone needs access to communication technology, including senior citizens. Cell phones help citizens of ages 65 and stay connected with their family and friends. Besides, free cell phones allow seniors to make necessary emergency calls. However, seniors may have a limited source of income and couldn’t afford a cell phone. Thus, the government provides free cell phones for seniors on Medicare. If seniors are recipients of Medicare, they may apply for Lifeline and receive a free cell phone. They are also eligible for a free monthly phone plan.
Free cell phone for seniors
The government provides free cell phones for low-income senior citizens. Free cell phones allow seniors to stay connected with family and friends. Plus, free cell phones also allow them to have access to immediate emergency health care. Seniors can also enjoy entertainment with free cell phones.
There are two ways seniors can qualify for the Lifeline Assistance Program:
- Based on income
- Seniors have income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Participate in government assistance
If senior citizens or one of the family members are currently receiving benefits from one of the government assistance programs, they’re eligible to receive a free cell phone. Plus, a monthly free cell phone service. The government assistance programs include:
- Food Stamps
- Supplementary Security Income (SSI)
- National School Lunch Program’s Free School Lunch
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
What is Medicare?
Medicare is different from Medicaid, but they’re so much alike that it’s easy to confuse them with one another. However, both are government programs that help people pay for health care. Medicaid is a state government program, while Medicare is a federal government program.
As the federal health insurance program, Medicare caters more to the elderly. It also caters to people with disabilities. Whatever their income is, they may qualify for Medicare. Its cost depends on the coverage plan you choose.
To eligible for Medicare, you have to meet one of these requirements:
- People of age 65 and more
- Younger citizens below 65 with disabilities
- Any citizen with End-Stage Renal Disease/ESRD. These are people who have permanent kidney failure and requiring dialysis or a transplant
You may still be eligible if you:
- Have Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Gets a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board
- Have been receiving Social Security benefits for at least 24 months
Parts of Medicare
Coverage of Medicare is based on 3 main factors. The first factor is federal and state laws. Second, national coverage decisions about whether something is covered that made by Medicare. Last factor, local coverage decisions made by companies in each state that process claims for Medicare. Whether something is medically necessary and should be covered in the area, they’re decided by these companies.
Medicare has different benefits that help cover specific services:
- Medicare Part A or Hospital Insurance
- It covers inpatient hospital stay, hospice care, care in a skilled nursing facility, and some home health care
- Medicare Part B or Medical Insurance
- It covers several outpatient care, doctor’s services, medical supplies, and preventive services
- Medicare Part D or prescription drug coverage
- It helps cover the cost of prescription drugs, including many recommended vaccines or shots
How do Medicare works?
You have two options to get your Medicare coverage:
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) are part of the Original Medicare. The coverage is managed by the federal government. Generally, you pay a deductible at the start of each year before Medicare pays its share (coinsurance/copayment). Medicare covers its share, while you pay yours for services and supplies that are covered. In most cases, you don’t need to file Medicare claims. The law requires providers and suppliers to files your claims for the covered services and supplies you get. These providers include doctors, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies.
Medicare Advantage is an alternative to get Original Medicare coverage. It’s also known as Part C or MA Plans. Usually, the plans include Part A, Part B, and Part D. Most Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits that are not covered in Original Medicare. These include dental, hearing, vision, and more. MA Plans are offered by private companies that Medicare-approved and must follow Medicare rules.
There are several most common types of MA Plans:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans
- Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans
- Special Needs Plans (SNPs)
How to get free cell phones on Medicare for seniors
The government provides free cell phones to eligible citizens through the Lifeline Program. If you’ve read our guide on how to get a free smartphone from the government, you know there are many ways to take advantage of this program, and Medicare is one of them. These free cell phones from Lifeline are based on income. Medicare recipients may qualify for a free cell phone from the government. Note that seniors who participate in Medicare don’t automatically make them qualify for the Lifeline program. However, seniors are still qualified by confirming their low-income status. To get free cell phones, their income should be at or below each state’s poverty line. One household is only eligible for one Lifeline.
Each state may have different requirements for seniors to get a free cell phone. Here’s what you can do to enroll for Lifeline:
- Check your income;
- Find out or do some research on which participating communication providers are available in your state;
- Fill the application form with detailed information like name, address, and SSN;
- Submit the application form with the necessary documents. You can submit it through the website, by phone, or by mail. The required documents include proof of income and a government-issued photo ID; and
- Once the provider approves your application, wait for your new cell phone to arrive. Depending on the provider, the shipment of your cell phone may take some time from a week to several weeks.
Most of the free cell phones from the government are low-end phone types. However, they have complete features to be used by seniors. Some providers like Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon allow you to choose the cell phones.
If you qualify, you’ll get a new cell phone. What type of cell phone you get depends on the providers. Overall, free cell phones are not high-tech phones like iPhone or Android. But, they have basic necessary features that senior-friendly.
Along with a free cell phone, you’ll also get cell phone services every month. Each provider may give you different free services to those who qualify. You may get 250 minutes of talk, text message allotment, call waiting, voice mail, and caller ID. What’s more, seniors can always dial 911 for emergencies anytime, even if they don’t have any minutes. You could also purchase additional minutes or text at a very affordable price from the provider.
We recommend you to check the provider websites to know if they operate in your state, so you’ll get the best one for you. Keep in mind that the Lifeline program limits one free cell phone per household. The program is a yearly service and non-transferable. To continue with the program, you will need to recertify every year.
Lifeline cell phone providers
On this program, the government works together with the participating providers. You can visit the Lifeline website to check the list of providers. You can choose the most suitable one from different carriers. Some Lifeline providers cover most of the state across the US. There are also many regional companies. Here is a list of some of the best Lifeline providers that give free cell phones for seniors on Medicare:
Safelink Wireless offers nationwide coverage on reliable networks in most states. These include Missouri, Texas, California, and Wisconsin. If you qualify, you’ll get a cell phone, sim card, free 350 minutes of talk, and unlimited texts. You’ll also get voicemail, 3-way calling, and Caller ID features. On top of that, there’s free access to 911 and 411 directory assistance.
A subsidiary of the Virgin Mobile Corporation, Assurance Wireless offers services in Georgia, Oregon, South Carolina, and more. They offer free cell phones along with free cell phone plans. Mostly, the eligible customers get Assurance phones. You may receive a cell phone like Kyocera Verve S3150. It can also be Alcatel Cinch or LG LN280 Aspire, depending on the cell phone availability. As for the free service plan, you may get 350 minutes, unlimited talk, and 2GB of data.
enTouch Wireless covers service in Indiana, Maryland, Utah, and other states. They may provide a different service plan based on the states. Eligible seniors will get a cell phone along with free 100 texts, 500 minutes calls, and 10 MB of data every month.
Q Link Wireless
Q Link Wireless gives free cell phones to seniors in more than 97% of the United States. With the most reliable coverage, these include Maine, Rhode Island, and Iowa. Not only get a free cell phone, but qualifying seniors also get free monthly data, minutes, and unlimited text. They give cell phones like HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Alcatel.
TruConnect gives a free cell phone for the eligible seniors in 26 states. These include Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio. They also give free talk, text, and data each month. Plus, free international calling to selected countries. TruConnect gives seniors the freedom to communicate and stay connected to family, friends. Plus, free cell phones and services give access to 911 in case of emergencies.
Features to look for in senior-friendly cell phones
Eligible seniors have two options cell phones from the providers. They can have basic cell phones or even the best 10 smartphones government provides. Most seniors may prefer basic cell phones since they’re using them more for texting and calling. Besides, most providers don’t offer specific cell phones for seniors. But, they have plenty of senior-friendly cell phones with useful features. Here’s what to look for on senior-friendly cell phones:
One of the important things to consider for a senior-friendly cell phone is a long-lasting battery. Seniors will need it because they often forget to charge their cell phones. Raz Memory Cell Phone can be the best cell phone for seniors.
If your beloved seniors live alone or have memory issues, you can get cell phones with monitoring features. Easyfone Prime A4 can be a perfect option. The location tracking system could track the device’s location and allows you to keep an eye on them.
Emergency and health features
Seniors will need cell phones with the right features. Features like the SOS button and voice assistance help seniors if an emergency arises. Jitterbug Flip has an emergency one-touch 5-star button. So, seniors can access 24/7 healthy and safe help. It’s one of the best senior-friendly cell phones you can choose.
Easy to use design
Seniors may have issues with hearing and vision. Thus, having a practical and easy to use a cell phone is important for seniors. Jethro SC435 is one of the cell phones with a large button, powerful speaker, large text, and large icons. These features make it a great choice for senior-friendly cell phones.
Seniors tend to choose cell phones with simple navigation like ‘yes’ and ‘no’ or ‘answer’ and ‘hang up’ button. It helps seniors using the phone easily.
Cell phones have become a necessity for everyone, including seniors. A cell phone allows seniors to stay connected with family and friends. Besides, it helps seniors with emergency health care when needed. So, senior citizens need to have one. But, most seniors may live with limited finances, and they couldn’t afford a cell phone. So, the government provides free cell phones through the Lifeline program. Low-income seniors can qualify for free cell phones. Their income must at or below 135% Federal Poverty Guidelines. They also qualify if they receive benefits from federal government assistance.
These include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. There’s also a program for free cell phones for seniors on Medicare. Eligible seniors on Medicare may qualify for free cell phones based on income. Each state may have eligibility criteria. The communication providers and types of cell phones may also differ in each state. If you or your beloved seniors can’t afford to get a cell phone, you can try to enroll for Lifeline.