Working low income families, our nation’s working class, the backbone of America. These families that survive on the poverty line are truly our strongest foundation. Providing for their children and spouse are all they have on their minds. They want to do right by the people they love.
The working lower income population strives to make ends meet. Making ends meet might mean a 12 hour shift at the restaurant with no breaks, staying late at the office going over the next days work, or coming home from one job only to get dressed and out the door to the next.
They are our waiters and waitresses, our bus drivers and our janitorial crew. The working lower income population bracket is an open-hearted one, working solely for their spouses, children and home that shelters them. If America needed someone to give a break to, these are the people we should look for.
Hard times in America
Our National unemployment rate is still at a staggering 7.9% in 2012, although it has gone down from 8.3% earlier last year. Families across the country are having to spend more time working and less time with their loved ones. This is especially true for the low income working population.
Sixty-nine percent of these families need their younger children watched during the day while the parents are at work. This usually leaves older siblings in charge of their little brothers and sisters after school. Although this seems like an easy decision, these older siblings are still children themselves.
Children watching children puts that household at risk for abduction, in-home accident or home invasion without an adult present or readily available to provide proper assistance. This statistic is even more frightening if the children have no way to contact help.
How a phone can help
By providing these working low income families with phones they could not otherwise afford, we are providing safety. Most modern families only have a landline as their “just in case” phone or do not have one at all. One could only imagine the terrible trouble an 11-year-old could be faced with while babysitting their five and seven year old siblings, with no communication to the outside.
Having a cell phone comes with any responsibility taken on in life. If a child is going to begin babysitting they need an emergency number. Adults need communication to network with others in their field and check-in with family at home.
Telecommunication anymore is unquestionably essential to function in our modern day. Even older adults have said to themselves, ‘what did I do before I had a cell phone?’ It’s true, life is so concentrated on constant connectivity that we couldn’t imagine our existence any other way.
Lifeline is a government created program that provides free phones to lower income families and individuals. These free cell phones are funded by the Universal Service Fund collected from varied telecommunication providers. Lifeline’s goal is to provide safety, communication and opportunity to excel with its cell phones.
In 1985 Lifeline was created to provide government subsidized landline phones to lower income families. This provided these families the help they needed then to stay connected, educated and safe. The program upgraded to include cell phones in 2005 to maintain the effectiveness of their mission.
Lifeline has many different providers. Depending on which provider you choose, varied cell phone models and service plans will be available. Individuals can also alter their plans so it fits their lifestyle perfectly. Additional features may be added to your plan for a fee if the original free plan does not align with your preferences.
How Lifeline can help
Lifeline can help your lower income family finally gain communication, for free. Although there are requirements to be eligible for Lifeline’s help, the program encourages you to learn more about it and see if you qualify for free cell phones.
First collect any documents that prove you are receiving assistance from one of the programs listed below. If you are currently not seeking any assistance, provide documents that prove your monthly income is 135% less than the US poverty line.
If you have proof documents for either or both of these points, you’re halfway to finally getting a cost free cell phone. Learn more about the government assistance programs and other requirements below. These requirements will change by state, but these are the general programs Lifeline looks for when determining eligibility. Research your state’s specific requirements to continue on to the next step of your application process.
These are some of the things you can use to provide proof of assistance in order to apply for Lifeline’s free cell phones:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
- State assistance programs (if applicable)
Also remember, even if you are not receiving assistance from any of these government programs, you still may be eligible for a free cell phone. Review your monthly income, if it is at or below 135% of the nation’s poverty line, you are qualified to get help from Lifeline.
Lifeline wants to provide the support to our working low income families that they deserve. One less bill to worry about along with the relief of having a cell phone is what Lifeline strives to give every working low income family in America.