Obama Phone – History, Eligibility and Providers

During the era of the Barack Obama presidency, there was a rapid increase in the popularity of the free government phone program. The program seeks to help needy Americans to have access to free cell phones. It’s for this reason that the program took the name “The Obama Phone”. It’s important to point out that the Obama Phone is the informal name of the Lifeline Assistance program. While communication capability is a very important aspect of everyday life, not all Americans are able to do so. That is why the Obama Phone program came about to give struggling households an opportunity to access affordable communication.

A Short History of Obama Phone

The idea behind the Obama Phone started in the 1980s during the Reagan presidency. During this time, cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. So, the government program covered landlines, which were the means of communication then. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) came up with the Lifeline Assistance Program to provide subsidized communication services to needy Americans. The persons who were deemed as needy were the ones considered to be living below the poverty level.

As the importance of phone service grew, cell phones replaced landlines and the FCC made changes to the program to allow needy Americans to have access to free government phones. It was during the Bush Administration that these significant changes came into place. The program continued to become more and more popular and President Barack Obama followed in the footsteps of his predecessors in ensuring that communication opportunities were made available to all Americans.

It was during the Obama Administration that the Lifeline Assistance program took up the name “The Obama Phone”. After the 2008 financial crisis, an increasing number of Americans were not in a position to afford the cost of cell phones and monthly plans. Therefore, the phone program came in handy to provide free cell phones to low-income persons.

Do You Qualify For An Obama Phone?

Generally, the persons who qualify for an Obama Phone are the ones that earn a low income or those participating in government assistance programs. Most of the people who qualify for the Obama Phone program are the ones that participate in either state or federal assistance programs. For example, the elderly fall in this category because they don’t earn incomes as other populations do. Here is a list of some of the federal assistance programs that are available in every state:

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance– This program meets housing needs for low-income persons and their families, the disabled, as well as the elderly.
  • Veterans Pension and Survivor’s Benefit– If you are a financially struggling veteran, this program helps you and your family by providing tax-free financial benefits.
  • Medicaid– This program seeks to provide health care services to households with low income as well as the elderly. Individual states have their own Medicaid programs, but there are particular health care services that the federal government expects them to offer.
  • Supplemental Security Income-This is a federal financial assistance program that provides monetary aids to disabled persons, disabled children, and low-income earning elderly.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program– This program helps low-income households and persons with financial assistance to buy food at grocery stores.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance– This program provides financial assistance to documented American Indians. The money provided goes towards meeting their basic needs.
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations– This program seeks to benefit low-income households and the elderly living on Indian reservations with food products.
  • Tribal Head Start– This program offers the following services to low-income children and households living on Native American lands: Early childhood classes, family support services, health services, disability services, nutrition services, and mental health services.

If you participate in any of the federal assistance programs, you qualify for the Obama Phone in your state. Moreover, it’s important to take note that there are states that have their own assistance programs like MassHealth in Massachusetts., and you can check that out If you participate in the state-sponsored assistance programs, you also qualify for an Obama Phone.

Even if you don’t participate in a federal assistance program, you can still benefit from the Obama Phone if you have a low income. Usually, qualifying through the avenue of low income is harder compared to qualifying by being part of assistance programs. This is because you’ll have to show more documentation to prove that you are eligible for the free phone. Each state has its criteria for determining the income level that makes one eligible for the Obama Phone. Most states have set the income level of those who qualify at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For more information on how you can qualify based on your income level, you can find out from your state.

Obama Phone Providers

There are many Obama Phone providers that partner with the federal government to provide free cell phones to those who qualify to be part of the program. There are two types of companies in the program: (1) Regional and (2) Nationwide companies. Some of the regional companies in the program include:

Nationwide companies include Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, and ReachOut Wireless.

Is it a Good Program for Needy Americans?

Indeed, the Obama Phone Program is a good one for needy Americans. There are households and individuals who don’t have the capacity to afford normal cell phone services without being assisted. That is why this program comes in handy to assist those in need. To begin with, if needy Americans have free phones, they will be able to reach out to prospective employers and, consequently, boost their chances of improving their income levels. Moreover, they will be in close contact with medical practitioners, thus reducing medical costs and improve their quality of health. Of great importance still, participants are able to stay connected with their family members.

Below are other articles that you may be interested in:

How to Get a Free Government Phone

Do I Qualify For A Free Government Phone?

Medicaid Eligibility and Types

A Guide to SSI and SSDI

What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

Companies That Offer Free Government Phone – Free Cell Phone Providers

Assist Wireless 

Terracom Wireless

Life Wireless

StandUp Wireless

Safelink Wireless

Assurance Wireless