Tennessee belongs in the top ten poorest states in America. They have about 1,077,000 people who live below the federal poverty guidelines. This is why the lifeline assistance programs are very helpful in this state. One of such programs is the free government cellphone program. With this, less privileged Tennessee residents can have access to mobile phone services if they are eligible. If you live in the state of Tennessee and you are in need of a free government cellphone, then keep reading. In this article, we will be discussing how you can be eligible for a free government cellphone in Tennessee and how you can apply.
Which Mobile Phone Companies Offer Free Government Cellphones in Tennessee?
Sadly, there are only 3 cellphone companies who are part of the free government cellphone program in this state. However, more are expected to partake in the near future. The mobile phone companies who are part of the free cellphone program in this state are listed below.
They offer several packages to eligible candidates, but it would be wise to go through each of them one by one to determine which would be best for you.
How Can You be Eligible for a Free Government Cellphone in Tennessee
There are two ways by which you can be eligible for a free government cellphone in this state. First of all is by being a participant in a lifeline assistance program. Secondly, you can be eligible based on your annual household income. If you are not eligible by any of these means, then there is no need to apply. Let us take a look at these eligibility criteria individually.
Eligibility Based on Program Participation
One of the ways by which you can qualify for a free government cellphone in Tennessee is by being a beneficiary of one or more lifeline assistance programs in the state. If you are a participant of any of these programs, then you are eligible to apply. These programs are listed below.
- Food Stamps/ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Pension and Survivor’s Benefit
- Section 8/ Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
- Tribal Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
As a beneficiary of the above-mentioned programs, you will be issued a membership card with which you can use to apply.
Eligibility Based on Annual Household Income
The second way you can be eligible is if your annual household income is leveled with or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. This is according to the federal poverty guidelines for the state in 2020. If you earn above this level, then you are not eligible to apply. Below are the ratios of household size to eligible annual income per household. Go through them to see if you are qualified based on annual household income.
1 member: $17,226
2 members: $23,274
3 members: $29,322
4 members: $35,370
5 members: $41,418
6 members: $47,466
7 members: $53,514
8 members: $59,562
For each additional person, add $6,048
How to Apply for a Free Government Cellphone in Tennessee
There are certain important steps you need to take to get a free cellphone in this state. The process is basically the same in every other state. If you are eligible, follow the steps below to begin the process.
1. Choose a Mobile Phone Company
The first step to take is to choose a mobile phone company to get your free mobile phone from. There are currently three mobile phone companies that are part of the free cellphone program so making a choice wouldn’t be so hard. Nonetheless, you have to visit their respective websites to be sure of exactly what they are offering. After proper investigation regarding talk time, SMS, data plans, and other discounts, then you can make up your mind on which company to go for.
2. Get an Application Form
After your mind is made up, you can proceed to request an application form. The mobile phone company of your choice will provide you with a form based on request. You can also get one from a lifeline assistance support center in the state of Tennessee. Downloading and printing out the form is an option. It is still very valid.
3. Fill the Form
Here’s the part where you have to be very careful. This is because the application form must contain only truthful information. False information, provided intentionally or otherwise can disrupt your chances of getting a free mobile phone. Remember, investigations will be carried out to ascertain your eligibility, regardless of the information you provide. A good tip here is to cross-check the information you have provided on the form before you submit. This will make sure there are no mistakes in your application. Your full names, date of birth, employment status, household size, annual household income, and participation in any of the above-mentioned lifeline programs.
4. Provide Proof of Eligibility and Submit
After the form has been filled, you will need to provide sufficient proof that your claims of eligibility are legit. Without this, your application will not be complete. If you are applying based on your household income level, then you will need to provide either your bank statements or tax receipts. You can visit any of your bank’s branches to obtain your statement. You can also send them a mail and have them email it to you. If you are applying based on program participation, then you will need to provide your membership ID card as proof. Your eligibility has to be re-certified every year, just in case your financial status has changed. After this is done, you can submit the form to a lifeline support center in your state.
Tennessee is one of the poorest states in America, therefore many of its residents are in need of government support.