Are you on Food Stamps/SNAP or Medicaid in California and want to learn more about how to get a free government cell phone? We have the information you need. In this post, we will walk you through how to get a free phone with California food stamps or other government benefits programs. This is through the Lifeline program, a service created by the government to provide discounted or free phone service to income-eligible people.
Table of Contents:
- What is Lifeline Program?
- How to Get a Free Phone With California Food Stamps
- Lifeline Cell Phone Providers in California
- Free Phone With California Food Stamps FAQs
What is Lifeline Program?
The LifeLine government assistance program started in 1985 to help households, at or below the poverty level line, afford a means of communication.
The California LifeLine Program (California LifeLine) is a state program that provides discounted home phone and cell phone services to eligible households.
The California LifeLine discounts help consumers lower the cost of their phone bills.
Only one discount per household is allowed.
Each household must choose to get the discount either on a home phone or on a cell phone, but not on both.
How to Get a Free Phone With California Food Stamps
There are three steps to getting a Lifeline phone:
Step 1: Qualify for Lifeline Program
There are two ways to qualify for the Lifeline phone program:
Option 1 – Participation in Certain federal assistance programs
If you participate in one of the following federal assistance programs, you may be eligible for the Lifeline phone program.
Participation by you or someone else in your household in one of the following federal assistance programs meets the eligibility requirements:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
- CalFresh, Food Stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
- National School Lunch Program (NSL)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
- Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (StanWORKs)
- Welfare-to-Work (WTW)
- Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)
- Tribal TANF
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Federal Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Program
Option 2 – California Lifeline Program Income Limit
The first option to qualify for the Lifeline phone program is to meet the income limit.
Below is the Lifeline Phone Program income limit for California:
|Household Size||Annual Income Limits|
|Each Additional Member||$7,200|
|Effective June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022|
Step 2: Choose a Lifeline Provider
You have to apply for Lifeline through a Lifeline phone or internet provider in your state. Scroll down below to see the list of Lifeline providers by state.
Step 3: Apply for the Lifeline Program
Ask your Lifeline provider for a Lifeline application. You will need the following information to apply:
What documentation do you need?
Here’s what you need to apply:
- Government Issued Photo ID or Driver’s License.
- One (1) Eligibility Document (like your program award letter)
PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY DOCUMENTS
- Program award letter (i.e. SNAP or Medicaid) clearly showing your full name and program name
- Document with your program ID, name, and benefit name
- Letter from State Agency stating you receive the benefit
INCOME ELIGIBILITY DOCUMENTS
- Last year’s income tax return
- Social Security statement of benefits
- Divorce decree
- Child support award
- Retirement/Pension statement of benefits
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
- Unemployment/Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
- Other official documents showing income information
Note: Effective 12/1/19, the federal government is reducing the Lifeline discount on stand-alone voice service from $9.25 to $7.25 per month.
Lifeline Cell Phone Providers in California
Scroll down below to see the Lifeline program providers in California.
The list is divided into Cell Phone Providers and Home Phone Providers.
You can choose which program to take advantage of, based on your home situation.
However, you can only participate in one program per household.
This means that your lifeline benefits can be used to either get a cell phone service or a home phone.
Cell Phone Services
Below is a list of cell phone providers that participate in the Lifeline program in the state of California.
|Air Voice Wireless||888-944-2355|
|Boomerang Wireless LLC||866-488-8719|
Home Phone Services
Below is a list of home phone providers that participate in the Lifeline program in the state of California.
|TDS Telecom/Winter Haven Telephone Company||888-225-5837|
|Volcano Telephone Company||888-886-5226|
|Pinnacles Telephone Co.||831-389-4500|
|TDS Telecom/Hornitos Telephone Company||888-225-5837|
|TDS Telecom/Happy Valley Telephone Company||888-225-5837|
|Ducor Telephone Company||888-539-5234|
|Consolidated Communications of California Company||844-968-7224|
|Calaveras Telephone Company||800-253-2511|
|Sierra Telephone Company, Inc.||877-658-4611|
Free Phone With California Food Stamps FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the California Lifeline program:
How is “One er Household” defined?
For the purposes of the Lifeline program, a household is defined as anyone living at the same address who share income and household expenses.
Only one Lifeline benefit is allowed per household.
What comes with California Lifeline Wireless Services?
According to Lifewireless, a Lifeline program provider in California, here is what you get with their plan:
- Nationwide Calling
- Unlimited Text Messaging
- Call Waiting
- Three-way calling
- Caller ID service
- No roaming charges
- No charge for domestic long-distance calls
- Free 911 Service
- Affordable Recharge Plans
What amount of Data do I get with Lifeline Cell Phone Service in California?
Qualified customers will receive 6GB of Data and 100 international SMS each month.
See below for details from TAG Mobile, a California Lifeline Provider.
What can I do with 6GB of Data?
According to Assurance Wireless, with 6GB of data, you can:
With 6GB of data a month you can:
- Send 750 text-only emails, view 1500 web pages and listen to 60 hours of streaming music and talk using a web app for 60 hours, OR
- Stream 15 hours of video
Note that data speeds may vary. These examples are estimates. Actual data usage varies by App and streaming quality.
Who are the Top Government Free Phone Providers in California?
Here are the most well-known companies providing free government phone services through the lifeline program:
Are there any restrictions with the California Lifeline Program?
Do any restrictions apply to the California LifeLine and federal Lifeline Programs?
Yes, the following restrictions apply:
- California LifeLine discounts are only available to individuals who participate in a qualifying government program or are income-eligible.
- Discounts provided by the California LifeLine and federal Lifeline programs are limited to one per household and are non-transferable.
- The address you provide for your phone service must be your place of residence, whether permanent or temporary.
- You may not resell your Life Wireless handset or give it to anyone outside your household to use.
How Do I File a Complaint about my Lifeline Provider?
To file a complaint about your lifeline provider, see the options below to reach the California Public Utilities Commission:
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco CA 94102
Locate the “File a Complaint” link on the website.
Free Phone With California Food Stamps Summary
We hope this post on the free phone with California food stamps was helpful.
For a list of Free Museum Admission with EBT Card, click here: Free Admission with California EBT Card.
To see a list of Restaurants that take EBT in California, click here: List of Restaurants that take SNAP EBT in California.
For CalFresh FAQs, click here: California SNAP FAQs.
If you have further questions about California SNAP or CalFresh EBT Card, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles about CalFresh and CalFresh EBT, including:
California P-EBT Extension for 2023
How much will I get in CalFresh in 2023?
40+ ATMs with Free EBT Transactions in California
How to Complete CalFresh SAR 7 Form
$3,000 Stimulus Child Tax Credit for Families
SNAP Benefits for Texas