As we all know, the lifeline program is the ticket to a free government cell phone and service. However, can one benefit from the program if on Social Security benefits? And if yes, how do I get a free cell phone through social security benefits of a deceased beneficiary?
Well, this will be our topic today in case you find yourself in this kind of situation or want to help a friend on it. In the article, we’ll share the key details about social security benefits, what it entails, and how you can use it to apply for a lifeline program.
Common Ways To Qualify For A Free Government Cell Phone
First of all, the lifeline program is for those individuals who can’t afford paid phone services like T-Mobile or Verizon or AT&T. You become eligible if your total household income level is at or below the federal poverty line or you’re on any of the government-funded welfare programs.
Overall, the said government assistance programs are quite a handful, but the most mentioned include:
- Food stamps,
- Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP)
- Federal public housing assistance
- Tribal Temporary assistance for needy families (TTANF)
- Food distribution program on Indian reservations (FDPIR)
- Head Start, and other Tribal-specific programs
- Veterans pension and survivors benefit programs
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
In the list, you can see there’s no direct mention of the Social Security benefits. However, we could say the SSI program is indirectly related as shown below.
SSI vs Social Security Benefits
First, both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security are under the Social Security Administration. They also offer monthly payments to eligible adults and also children.
However, the SSI is available for people at least age 65 (retirement age) or any age but disabled/ blind and have limited income (wages/ pensions) or resources. The limited resources here refer to the things you own, in which case they have to be $2000 or less (as an individual) or $3,000 or less (as a couple).
Another thing, the federal government finances the SSI through the U.S. Treasury funds- taxes from personal income, corporate and others. This is quite different from Social Security benefits, which come from the Social Security taxes.
Note, Social Security benefits are also based on your earnings, or rather Social Security credits accrued over 10 years of working. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that means you’ll need a total of forty credits to be eligible for social security benefits since each year’s equivalent to four credits.
Another thing, Social security benefits are available to not only the aged and disabled but also survivors of the beneficiary. In a nutshell, this means a family member/s can also receive the benefits on their partner’s or relative’s eligible work record. The SSI doesn’t have family benefits.
How Do I Get a Free Cell Phone Through Social Security
As was mentioned earlier, you can receive a free government cell phone if on any of the federal welfare programs. Even though it’s rarely mentioned, Social Security is also a type of federal program but based on your earnings throughout the year.
Therefore, you automatically qualify for free cell phone and service from lifeline providers if you’re already receiving Social Security benefits. But again, this program is available to different kinds of people, or otherwise beneficiaries. So, even the lifeline benefits will also be limited.
In any case, the six ways you can receive Social Security benefits and qualify for the free cell phone are:
1. Retirement Social Security
One of the main beneficiaries of Social Security benefits is a retiree. So, we can say retirement is the first way you can get free cell phone through social security. As of 2021, the full retirement age is 66 if born between 1943-1954. For those born in1955 – 1959, you can add two months for each year to get the full retirement age. For instance, the full retirement age is 66 and 6 months if you were born in 1957.
As for those born in 1960 (currently 61) and later, the full retirement age is 67, which means you still have 7 years to go. Luckily, the SSA provides that you can start receiving your Social Security benefits early at age 62. Sadly, however, your early benefits will be lesser than what you would’ve received before your full retirement age.
But whether you’re receiving your retirement Social Security benefits early or at the full retirement age, you still qualify for the lifeline program.
2. Disability Social Security Benefits
Other than retirement, lifeline providers do have free cell phones for the disabled on Social Security benefits. Usually, SSA provides this benefit under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which covers people with disabilities but has secured enough social security credits. Or else Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you don’t have enough credits but have proof of limited income and resources.
In short, the Social Security Administration provides SSDI or SSI benefits to people with a medical condition that hinders their ability to work. The said medical condition should also be expected to last one year or result in death.
As for the question of eligibility, you can get disability social security benefits if you satisfy the two necessary earnings tests. That’s a recent work test (based on your age when disability started) disabled) and duration of work test (proves you worked long enough under Social Security).
You can visit Social Security Disability Benefits guideline to determine how many years of work you generally need to be eligible.
3. Spousal Social Security
Overall, retirees and the disabled are the main beneficiaries of Social Security benefits. However, the family members, like a spouse or ex-spouse, can also be eligible for the benefits based on their partner’s earnings record. That’s to say, you can qualify for the spousal benefits even if you’ve never worked under Social Security. The monthly payment you receive can be as high as one-half of your partner’s retirement benefit amount.
Regardless, SSA provides that you can only get Spousal social security benefits if you’re at least 62 years of age or on a disability program. So, you must be either of the two to qualify for a free cell phone through Social Security too.
4. Widow/ Widower Social Security Benefits
Technically, the Administration counts widows or widowers under the Social Security Benefits of survivors. That means you’ll be eligible for the program if you’re a spouse of a worker who was under Social Security at the time of his/ her death.
As an eligible widow or widower, you’ll start receiving the full Social Security survivors benefits at full retirement age. However, you can also get your benefits from as early as age 60, but at a reduced amount.
Furthermore, you can start receiving the widow/ widower benefits as early as 50 years of age if you’re disabled. But you’ll qualify for the survivors benefits at any age if you’re looking after a child/ children (under age 16) of a deceased worker.
5. Social Security Benefits for Unmarried Children
The Social Security benefits are also available to children, and so is the eligibility to the lifeline program. However, the child must be younger than 18 years of age or between ages 18 and 19 if she/ he’s in high school. Also, you can qualify for this program if you’re 18 or older and have a disability that started before you were age 22.
*As the child in question, you must be unmarried to qualify for the benefits. Also, you must have a parent who’s either disabled, retired, or deceased and entitled to Social Security benefits.
6. Social security Benefits for Dependent Parents
Lastly, parents can qualify for the Social Security benefits, as well as a free government cell phone based on their “child’s” earnings record. It also falls under the survivor’s benefits, which means the said “child” will either be a deceased or disabled worker.
However, the worker must be under Social Security at the time of his/ her tragedy for the dependent parents to receive the benefits. Also, the worker must have been providing at least one-half of the parent’s needs (timely documentation required).
Furthermore, the parent/s must be at least age 62 and not married after the worker’s death. He/ she/ they must be the natural parent of the deceased/ disabled worker, or else became the adoptive parent before the worker reached 16 years of age.
Key Takeaway: The 8 Best Free Cell Phone Providers
Literally, you can apply with any lifeline provider for a free cell phone through the Social Security program. Here are few options you can try if you haven’t yet.
|Lifeline Provider||Carrier Network||Minimum Free Minutes||More Details|
|Q Link Wireless||Sprint (Now T-Mobile)||1000 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|TAG Mobile||Verizon/ T-Mobile||1000 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|TruConnect||Sprint (Now T-Mobile)||1000 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|Life Wireless||AT&T||500 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|Safelink Wireless||Verizon/ AT&T/ T-Mobile||350 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|Assist Wireless||Sprint (Now T-Mobile)||250 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|Assurance Wireless||T-Mobile||350 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
|Access Wireless||Sprint (Now T-Mobile)||250 Minutes||Check Texts & Data|
Common Related Questions:
Can you get a free phone on Social Security?
Social Security benefits are the monthly payments you receive after retirement or if you’re disabled or taking care of children of a deceased worker. It’s similar to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), only that the Administration funds it by Social Security taxes instead of the general taxes. But since it’s still from the Federal assistance funds, you can qualify for the lifeline program. So, yes, you can get a free phone on social security.
How can I get a free cell phone?
There are various ways you can get a free cell phone today. One of the ways is through the limited-time free-phone-switcher deals like that of MetroPCS or Cricket Wireless. If not that, you can go through Lifeline providers like Access Wireless or TAG Mobile. You’ll get a free device and service.
Does the government still give out free cell phones?
A simple answer, YES. However, you must apply with the appropriate lifeline provider and satisfy the requirements. That’s your total household income level must be below the federal poverty guidelines or be a beneficiary of a government-funded program.
Who qualifies for a free government cell phone?
Under the Social Security benefits, you can qualify for a free government cell phone if you’re a retiree or disabled. You can become eligible under the survivor’s benefits, which include spouses, ex-spouses, children, or dependent parents of the deceased.
To conclude, we can say Social Security is more like insurance since you have to earn the credits to qualify for the future benefits. Luckily, eligibility for these benefits is also an automatic qualification for the Lifeline Assistance programs. So, you can get a free cell phone and even free monthly minutes + texts + data from your preferred lifeline provider.
Note, you can still qualify for the full lifeline program (free phone + minutes) whether you choose to get your benefits at early or full retirement age. However, the total retirement benefit you receive will be lower compared to a retire who has waited for the full retirement age.