Through the continuous advancement of mobile technology, people can now stay in touch with their loved ones. Phones have evolved from merely communication devices to smart computers in the palm of your hand. However, this technology comes with a hefty price tag, and not everyone has access.
For low-income families who need iPhones but can’t purchase them, giving them for free is one of the assistance programs launched by the government. In this article, you will learn more about getting a free government iPhone in 2023.
Is It Possible To Get A Free Government iPhone In 2023?
24% of adults in the US with household incomes below $30,000 a year say they don’t own a smartphone. Considering that smartphones and connectivity are a must-have, it’s not surprising for the government to organize programs that help people without financial capacity access these devices.
In response to the necessity of smartphones in daily life, the American government launched programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications program.
Getting A Free iPhone Through The Lifeline Program
The Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications program, also known as Lifeline, is a program launched by the Federal Communications Commission. The main goal of this initiative is to make communication services more affordable to low-income families and individuals.
Through Lifeline, subscribers can access a discount on monthly phone services, broadband Internet services, or a package bundle for voice and broadband. These packages must be purchased from participating wireline and wireless providers to maximize the discount.
How Lifeline Works
Lifeline benefits are available to eligible low-income individuals across every American state, commonwealth, and territory, including Tribal lands. The general discount is $9.25 per month for low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 for people in Tribal lands.
However, the Lifeline discount is allowed for only one of either wireline or wireless service. Consequently, the Lifeline program limits its benefit awards to one per household.
Lifeline Program Eligibility
The Lifeline program is managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). They help consumers sign up for the program, fulfill all the eligibility requirements, and complete the recertification process required yearly.
The full details of Lifeline eligibility are available on their website, but some of the most important requirements are:
- Have an income that is equal to or below the 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- A participant in one or more federal assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, or the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
- If you reside on Tribal lands, you must enjoy at least one of these programs:
How To Apply For Free iPhone Benefits Through Lifeline
Before anything else, the applicants must also present specific documents to solidify their identity and eligibility. Here are some documents to prepare copies of:
- Birth certificate
- U.S. driver’s license
- A valid government-issued, state, Tribal, or military ID
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or naturalization
- Green card or permanent resident card
- Utility bill
- Tax return
- Lease or mortgage statement
- Income statement from current employer
- Paycheck stub
- Divorce decree or child support award
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
- Tribal or Federal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
- Benefit verification letter
- Approval letter
- Benefit award letter
- Statement of benefits
Once those documents are ready, start your Lifeline application using the National Verifier application system. It is a system designed by the FCC and operated by the USAC. This system verifies the information sent by the applicant and checks if they match eligibility for first-time or recertification.
Additionally, they provide a tool that allows consumers seeking assistance to find the providers in their locality that are partners with Lifeline. You may opt to mail in your application or go directly to the service provider to process the application.
For questions regarding the Lifeline application process, call the toll-free number for the Lifeline Support Center at 1 (800) 234-9473 or email LifelineSupport@usac.org.
Getting A Free iPhone Through The ACP Program
The government launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program as a temporary solution to help low-income households with discounted broadband services during the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2021, this program was modified, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act) became law.
With this new act, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was introduced. It is a program from the FCC that aims to help households stay connected in school, work, healthcare, and other services through broadband connections.
How ACP Works
The ACP gives eligible households a $30 monthly discount they can use to pay for their internet service. For Tribal land households, the discount may go as high as $75 per month.
The program’s beneficiaries may also enjoy a one-time discount of up to $100 that can be used to purchase a tablet, desktop, computer, or similar device if they can contribute $10 to $50 toward the purchase price.
However, it is crucial to remember that ACP benefits are limited to a one-time one-device purchase discount per household and one monthly internet service discount per household.
A person may be eligible if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. They may also qualify for ACP if they meet one or more of these criteria:
- A recipient of the Federal Pell Grant
- Meet the criteria of a low-income internet program of a participating service provider
- Participate in assistance programs similar to the qualifications for the Lifeline program
How To Apply For Free iPhone Benefits Through ACP
There are three main ways to enjoy the benefits of the Affordable Connectivity Program:
- Create an account on Affordable Connectivity’s website and fill out the ACP application forms
- Print out an application and a Household Worksheet, fill out the information accurately, and send it by mail
- Contact a participating internet company and process the application through them
If you are already part of the Lifeline program, you don’t need to apply again to get ACP benefits. All you need is to talk to your Lifeline provider and opt to apply extra discounts to your existing Lifeline service.
Alternative Ways To Get A Free Phone
Aside from maximizing the benefit programs of the government, there are other methods you can try to obtain an iPhone. Admittedly, some of these may be based on sheer luck, but they are also worth trying if you have the time.
1. Join Giveaways
There are many giveaways that you can join to get a free phone. All you have to do is sign up for the giveaway and follow the instructions. Make sure you read the rules carefully, so you don’t accidentally disqualify yourself.
2. Take Surveys
Another way to get a free phone is by taking surveys. Many companies offer free phones as a way to get feedback from consumers. You can sign up for a survey panel and start taking surveys. Once you reach a certain number of points, you can redeem them for a free phone.
3. Join A Phone Beta Testing Program
If you’re lucky, you may be able to join a phone beta testing program. These programs are usually offered by phone manufacturers or service providers. They’re looking for people to test out new phones and give feedback. As a beta tester, you’ll get to keep the phone after you’re done testing it.
4. Join Online Contests
There are often online contests that you can enter to win a free phone. These contests are usually run by phone companies or retailers. To enter, you must fill out a form with your contact information.
5. Take A Free Phone From A Recycling Program
Many phone companies offer recycling programs where you can trade in your old phone for a new one. You can usually find these programs on the website of your chosen phone company.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about obtaining a free government iPhone through our answers to the top questions about it.
Aside from iPhones, eligible Lifeline or ACP awardees may be given Android phones from LG, Samsung Galaxy, Kyocera, Motorola, and ZTE.
If you lost your free iPhone from the government or had inflicted the phone with damage, you must call your provider right away. In some cases, you might be able to get a new phone for free, as long as it is within warranty and consumer law. On the other hand, you may have to pay a small fee to get one.
The government programs usually award iPhone 6, 7, and 8 models to qualifying individuals. If you seek a newer version, you may need to pay extra fees. Also, not all providers are willing to give access to newer models, so you have to do extra research to check if upgrading is an option for you.
The government provides free iPhones to low-income families to help them meet their daily needs in this modern era. However, you must still meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for the program. Here’s our article that contains the all the requirements on how to obtain a free iPhone 7.
If you want to learn more about government phones for low-income families and other things you may get for free, check out the rest of Gov Relations today!