Lifeline Phones

Government Program to provide free phones to those in need


ReachOut Wireless gives out free cell phones to the financially disadvantaged, through the federal government’s Lifeline Assistance program, which was established in the 1980s, and has provided free telephone service for those in need since the 1990s. The free cell phone portion of this program was added during the Bush Administration.

A free government phone isn’t a cheap wireless phone or a discounted model. These are recent model, fully featured cell phones, backed by prominent mobile phone companies. You won’t get an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, but you’ll get a basic, modern phone.

In addition to the phone, which comes with voice mail, call waiting, caller ID, and select text messaging, you will typically get up to 250 minutes of airtime per month for free.

If you live in any of the following states you may be able to get a phone through ReachOut Wireless:  Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa (beginning April, 2012), Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. They are actively working on other states and hope to be up and running in New Jersey and some other states very soon.

You do need to qualify, but it’s simple to know if you do. You are eligible If you already receive assistance from any one of the following government programs:


  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Supplemental Security Income (also know as SSI)
  • Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF)
  • National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Programs


If you are eligible through one of these programs, it’s really easy. Just complete and sign the application. There is no submission of proof required.

You can also qualify by a low-income status. If your total household income is below between 135-150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, depending upon what state you are in, you can qualify.  Check the chart at the bottom of this page to see what your State’s standards are. You’ll have to submit some proof of income with this type of application.

Only one Lifeline account is allowed per household.

You must have a valid United States mailing address. Post office boxes are not acceptable because your cell phone must be mailed to a valid street address.

Cell phones from ReachOut Wireless offer the following features:


  • 3-Way Calling
  • Call Forwarding
  • Caller ID
  • Call Waiting
  • International Long Distance
  • Select Text Messaging
  • Voice Mail

For a small monthly fee, you can also upgrade your phone and your services.

The free plan limits you to 250 minutes per month, but you can buy more minutes.  You can also take your phone into a Currency Exchange and pay for additional minutes if you find you need them. 


2011 Federal Poverty Guidelines X 135%


The default is 135%, but it is 150% for Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas.


Poverty levels multiplied by the 135% that the Lifeline program uses in most states.


Size of
Family Unit

48 Contiguous
States and D.C.



































For each additional
person, add





If you think you qualify, simply fill out the form here, and then print the form out, sign and date it, and fax it to 847-298-4484 for processing.

You can review a summary of eligibility requirements by state Here.    

If you have any questions, just give us a call at 847-961-4440, and we will be happy to help you. 

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