In a world where connectivity has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, staying in touch with loved ones, accessing vital services, and remaining informed is crucial for everyone, especially those who have dedicated their lives to serving our nation. As a gesture of gratitude and support, various initiatives have emerged to provide veterans with essential resources, and among them, the offering of free phones stands out. The significance of communication cannot be overstated, and for veterans who have selflessly served their country, the gift of a free phone represents not just a device, but a gateway to renewed connections, opportunities, and a sense of empowerment. In this article, we delve into the profound impact of free phones for veterans and guide you through the process of receiving your own device.
Which Programs Enable Veterans to Receive a Free Phone?
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) oversees the Lifeline Program – a government assistance program that was designed to help make communications services more accessible to low-income households and individuals. Lifeline offers phone and wireless service discounts based on income and eligibility criteria. It also offers free or discounted cell phones for eligible applicants.
In addition, the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is also managed by the FCC, offers discounts on broadband services and connected devices.
Lifeline and ACP are the two assistance programs that offer free phones for eligible customers, including veterans. As such, you can apply for just one of the two programs. However, by combining these programs, veterans can unlock the opportunity to acquire a high-quality free cell phone from a top brand, along with unlimited talk, text, and data!
How Can Veterans Qualify for Free Phones (2023)
Veterans (as well as other eligible applicants) can qualify for Lifeline and/or ACP either based on a low income or based on their participation in a qualifying government assistance program.
Veterans are most likely to participate in the Veterans and Survivors Pension benefit, as such, this participation may be your ticket to applying for Lifeline/ACP and receiving a free phone for veterans. However, there are also other ways that can make you Lifeline/ACP eligible:
- You qualify for Lifeline if you have an income 135% below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You qualify for ACP if you have an income 200% below the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- You qualify for Lifeline if you are already benefiting from other government assistance programs, such as:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
- A Tribal Assistance Program
- ACP has additional qualifying programs, including all Lifeline Programs mentioned above and Lifeline itself, as well as NSLP (National School Lunch Program), Federal Pell Grant, and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Program).
Additionally, to apply, you must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
Will I Get a Free Phone for Veterans if I Meet Any of the Criteria Above?
Even if you meet the Lifeline/ACP eligibility criteria mentioned above (for instance, you participate in the Veterans and Survivors Pension benefit or another qualifying assistance program or your income is low enough), it doesn’t mean that you will automatically receive a free phone for veterans.
To get your device, you must first:
- Prepare for the Lifeline/ACP application process (check your eligibility and think about how you can prove it).
- Apply for Lifeline and ACP.
- Find a company that offers Lifeline/ACP free phones for veterans in your area and apply for its benefits.
These steps may sound like a lot, but in reality, you can do all of this within a day or even a few minutes. Simply follow the instructions provided in the next three sections.
How to Prepare for the Application Process to Get a Free Phone for Veterans (2023)
To prevent misuse of government assistance programs, applicants are required to provide evidence of eligibility during the application process. Valid official documents confirming low income or program participation, age or emancipation status, address, and other personal information must be submitted for approval.
- Examples of valid documents for income verification include: Veterans Administration statement of benefits, child support awards, pay stubs, current income statement from your employer, divorce decree, Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance, prior year’s state, federal or Tribal tax return, Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation statement of benefits, and more.
- Program participation can be proven with benefit approval or verification letters. For instance, if you qualify for Lifeline/ACP based on your participation in the Veterans and Survivors Pension benefit, you could prove your participation with a copy of the approval letter, benefit award/verification letter, or statement of benefits.
- Age or emancipation status can be confirmed with documents like ID, passport, or birth certificate.
- Address verification requires documents like ID, driver’s license, utility bills, or mortgage or lease statement.
Note: Never send original documents, but instead, prepare clear copies in advance for submission during the application process.
How to Apply for Lifeline/ACP to Get a Free Phone for Veterans?
Before applying for government assistance, it is essential to begin the process through the National Verifier, a secure online platform. This method is highly recommended due to its speed, safety, and potential for immediate approval.
To apply online, visit the appropriate links for Lifeline (https://getinternet.gov/apply?id=nv_home) or ACP (https://getinternet.gov/apply?id=acp&amp;awsl=link-from-how-to-apply) applications, and log in or create an account if needed. Complete the online form, providing the necessary information and digital copies of the required documentation. Progress through the pages by clicking ‘Next’ and submit the application when finished.
Alternatively, you can opt to apply via mail, although this method is not encouraged. To proceed by mail, download and print the Lifeline application form (https://www.lifelinesupport.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/get-lifeline/LI_Application_NVstates.pdf) or the ACP application form (https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf). If applying for ACP, include the Household Worksheet (https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf). Fill out the forms and include physical copies of the required proof documentation. Send the complete package to Lifeline/ACP Support Center, PO Box 9100, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773.
Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed, and hopefully, approved. Once your application is approved, you will receive a notification from the National Verifier. They will contact you via email, mail, phone, or another communication method. When that happens, you can select a provider that offers free phones for veterans through the Lifeline/ACP program in your area.
How to Find a Lifeline/ACP Provider That Offers a Free Phone for Veterans in My Area?
Once your Lifeline/ACP application got approved, you must find a wireless company that offers free phones for veterans in your area. You can only apply for the benefits of a company that operates in your state of residence.
You can find the list of all the Lifeline/ACP companies in your state of residence at https://cnm.universalservice.org/. Simply enter your location, select the program, and press Search and a list of all the available companies in your area will appear. You can then visit each company’s website to compare their benefits and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Which Lifeline and ACP Companies Offer a Free Phone for Veterans?
To make things a bit easier for you in terms of looking for a free phone for veterans provider in your area, you can also check out this list of the best Lifeline/ACP companies in the US in general. As no company operates in all US states, some of these may not be available in your area. You can check if a particular company you like is available in your area at https://cnm.universalservice.org/ or by visiting the company’s website and entering your ZIP code to see if there are any available offers in that area.
The best Lifeline and ACP companies that offer free phones for veterans include:
- Assurance Wireless: A Lifeline provider available in many U.S. states, offering free monthly data, unlimited texts, minutes, and 2.5 GB of mobile hotspot data up to 4G LTE speed, along with a free Android 4G or 5G smartphone. Apply online at https://www.assurancewireless.com/.
- Cintex Wireless: A popular Lifeline and ACP provider operating in several states. Eligible customers can receive free monthly minutes, texts, data, and a 4G/5G smartphone. Additionally, they can purchase a discounted tablet. Apply at https://cintexwireless.com/.
- enTouch Wireless: A nationwide Lifeline provider serving various states, offering free unlimited talk, text, data, a discounted tablet, and a 4G/5G smartphone. Apply at https://entouchwireless.com/.
- SafeLink Wireless: Owned by Tracfone, this Lifeline provider operates in multiple states, providing free unlimited talk, text, data, a 10 GB hotspot, and a 4G/5G smartphone. Apply at https://www.safelinkwireless.com/.
- AirTalk Wireless: A Lifeline and ACP provider with benefits like free unlimited talk, text, high-speed data, and a 4G/5G smartphone. ACP customers can also purchase a discounted tablet. Apply at https://airtalkwireless.com/.
- Access Wireless: Serving numerous states, Access Wireless offers free unlimited talk, text, data, and a 4G/5G smartphone. Apply at https://www.accesswireless.com/.
- Easy Wireless: Operating in multiple states, Easy Wireless provides free unlimited talk, text, data, hotspot, and a 4G/5G smartphone for veterans and other eligible applicants. Apply at https://myeasywireless.com/.
- NewPhone Wireless: Available for Louisiana and Wyoming residents, NewPhone Wireless offers free unlimited talk, text, high-speed data, and a 4G/5G smartphone. You may also be able to buy a discounted tablet. Begin your application journey at https://newphone.com/.
What Type of a Free Phone for Veterans Can I Expect to Receive Through Lifeline/ACP?
The amazing Lifeline and ACP companies that offer free phones for veterans and other eligible customers mentioned above (and many others that operate in your area) generally offer reliable high-quality flip phones or smartphones. Most companies don’t reveal which devices they offer in advance, as the offer tends to depend on availability, state, and which plan a specific customer qualifies for. However, the majority of providers will offer you an entry-level to mid-range Android smartphone.
To increase your chances of getting the best possible free phone for veterans, it’s best to apply for both Lifeline and ACP, as companies tend to offer better devices through both programs.
Some very generous companies (like AirTalk and NewPhone) offer amazing devices such as:
- Samsung Galaxy A52
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Apple iPhone 7
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus
- Apple iPhone 8
- Google Pixel 4
- Motorola G Stylus 2020
- OnePlus 7T
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- OnePlus Nord N200 5G
- LG G8 ThinQ