If you are among those seeking a senior citizen cell phone plans free in 2021, then there is good news for you. For instance, some years ago, a new healthcare law in the US had a clause that allowed up to three million middle-income/class retired workers to be eligible for free mobile phones courtesy of the government’s Lifeline Assistance Programs.
However, the free cell phone for seniors and disabled includes some terms and conditions depending on your cell phone provider and the US state where you live. Note that these government programs are not exclusive to senior citizens alone but meant for everyone eligible.
Top 10 Best Senior Citizen Cell Phone Plans For Free
Senior citizens can qualify for free cell phone plans in 2021 via the programs presented below.
1. Lifeline Assistance Programme
Lifeline is a program facilitated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It was established in 1985 with the objective of making communications services available at lower costs for the low-income class.
Features of lifeline:
- Provision of as much as $9.25 discount on service for qualified low-income subscribers
- To qualify for the program, subscribers must either have an income that is equal to or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or be involved in other assistance programs such as the ones below
- The program can be accessed by eligible low-income subscribers in every US state, territory, and commonwealth, as well as on tribal lands
- FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household
2. Food Stamps
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamp Program, is a US federal program that offers food-purchasing assistance to people of low or no income. It operates under the auspices of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the US Agric Department in conjunction with other public agencies.
Features of Food Stamps:
- To be eligible, individuals and households must have a gross income of less than 130% of the federal poverty line (FPL).
- Individual or household net income must be below the FPL.
- Apart from the above conditions, eligibility is also possible if an individual or household is involved in other assistance programs (such as the TANF or SSI).
- Participants must use an electronic benefits card to purchase food at officially approved food outlets
Medicaid is a US government program that provides healthcare services to millions of Americans. The program takes care of the elderly, eligible low-income class, pregnant women, children, and the disabled. Medicaid is operated at state levels but is subject to federal oversight. It is funded by both the state governments and the federal government.
Features of Medicaid:
- Physician services
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital services
- Prescription drugs
- Prenatal care
- Physical therapy
- Case management
- Home health services, and others
4. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) aims to offer energy crisis assistance to eligible low-income households. This can be in the form of assistance in areas like payment of heating and cooling bills, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs. LIHEAP is under the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Funding for the program comes mainly from federal government grants.
Features of LIHEAP:
- Eligibility is based on the annual income of a household, depending on the size of the household. The more the number of people in the household, the higher the income requirement
- An individual who participates in other government programs such as SNAP, SSI, and TANF or who has family members participating in such programs may be considered
- Funds are meant for every state in the US as well as U.S. territories and tribal governments
- To assist federal funding, state legislatures usually provide additional resources yearly
5. Supplementary Security Income – SSI
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a United States program that offers monthly cash payments to certain individuals who have made social security payments and those working to retire. SSI commenced in 1974 and is an outcome of the Social Security Amendments of 1972.
Features of the SSI:
- Intending participants must be US citizens or foreigners who meet certain requirements
- Be either blind, disabled, or aged 65 and above
- Have limited income
- Unless you are a child of military parent(s) on permanent duty outside the US or a student temporarily studying abroad, you must reside in any of the 50 States, or the Northern Mariana Islands to be eligible
6. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The TANF program is a time-limited program through which the US federal government provides grants to the various state governments to be used in assisting low-income households where parents or relatives cannot provide essential family needs.
Features of TANF:
- Providing support to poor families so that children can be properly catered for either by parents or relatives
- Stopping the dependence of poor parents on government benefits by promoting job training, work, and marriage
- Prevent and limit the occurrence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
- Encourage the incidence and sustenance of two-parent families
7. Federal Public Housing Assistance
Public housing assistance, or PHA, is a collection of programs in the US designed to assist in subsidizing the rent payments of low-income individuals and families. These PHA programs are operated by state and city public housing authorities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supervises the implementation of federal PHA programs by state and city authorities.
Features of the PHA:
- Unlike the other assistance programs discussed above, majority (more than three-quarters) of those eligible for PHA under the HUD do not receive any assistance
- HUD’s housing programs are designed for very low-income households who earn only up to 50% of the area median income
- There is a greater concentration of assisted housing urbanized areas than in other areas
- It is more likely to find recipients of HUD-assisted housing in the northeast region of the US than in the western states
8. Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is a Financial Assistance and Social Services (FASS) program that assists government-recognized members of the American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) tribes.
Features of BIA:
- To be eligible, an individual must be an official member of an AI/AN tribe recognized by the US government
- Not be a beneficiary of comparable government assistance
- Lack the capacity to meet basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and utilities
- Live in an approved service area or near an approved service area
9. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
Apart from providing food, the USDA also provides administrative funding to formally recognized Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) and state agencies to help maintain the program.
Features of FDPIR:
- Households wishing to participate in the program must be certified by the US federal government based on income and non-financial standards. After certification, they must also be recertified at least every 12 months. It may take up to 24 months to certify elderly and disabled households
- Income eligibility is similar to the Food stamp income standard for each household size
- Low-income American Indians and non-Indians who stay on a reservation, and household members in officially approved areas near a reservation or in Oklahoma with at least one member hailing from a federally recognized tribe qualify for FDPIR.
- Applicants may be asked to provide documents such as Social Security, Unemployment or Workers Compensation benefits, SSI benefits, Veterans benefits, Pensions or retirement benefits, and Dependent Care Expenses, among others.
10. National School Lunch Program’s Free School Lunch
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a US feeding program that focuses on public and nonprofit private schools as well as residential child care institutions. It receives some assistance from the US government. The program offers nutrition-rich, subsidized, or free lunches to children every school day. It was established by the National School Lunch Act of 1946.
Features of NSLP:
- Children in households with incomes lower than 130 percent of the poverty level or participants in SNAP or TANF are eligible for free meals
- Children from families whose incomes range from between 130 to 185 percent of the poverty line are eligible for subsidized meals
- Even during summer when schools are not in session, children still receive nutritious meals and snacks via the Summer Food Service Program
- The program is mandated to provide a third of the daily calorie, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin E requirements of beneficiaries through lunchtime feeding.
How to Get Senior Citizen Cell Phone Plans Free of Charge
Two options qualify you for the US government senior citizen cell phone plans free of charge:
Providing evidence that your income is lower than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines in your state (this makes you eligible for the Lifeline Assistance Program).
As mentioned above, the Lifeline Assistance Program does not demand any age requirements for anyone to apply. Thus, there can be AARP free cell phones for seniors as well as free cell phones for much younger individuals in society. Apart from the government, some charities also provide free, refurbished mobile phones to seniors which they usually make available via thrift stores or donations.
1. Affinity Cellular
If all the above offers elude you, then, if possible, you may have to opt to try some mobile phone companies that offer free mobile phones and low-cost cell phone plans for seniors. A good example is Affinity Cellular, which offers you a free flip phone when you purchase its monthly service plan. Affinity’s voice plans can cost as low as $10/month.
- free flip phone when you purchase its monthly service plan.
- Simple and affordable low rate plans that can cost as low as $10 per month.
- Free AAA emergency roadside assistance calls.
- No long term contracts.
- Limited phone selection.
- Does not offer unlimited plans for smartphone users.
There are also the Verizon free cell, phones for seniors, Verizon senior plan, T-mobile plans for seniors, Sprint senior plan, AT&T senior plan as well as related services from other companies like Cricket, Assurance, and Safelink.
- Strong nationwide coverage.
- Wide range of plans and phones.
- Decent international features.
- Fast hotspot data.
- Plans tend to be relatively more expensive.
Are There Any Free Cell Phone Plans for Senior Citizen?
Yes, there are various senior citizen cell phone plans free of charge from tech companies like Q-Link, Assurance and Safelink, and other related firms that offer Lifeline Assistance Program services.
Note that most US states have diverse Lifeline service providers who offer diverse products and services that vary from one state to another. Hence, you’ll have to thoroughly scrutinize each provider’s offer so you can select the one you see as most suitable for you.
In a nutshell, if you want to select your most ideal Lifeline provider, consider the following tips:
- Identify all the Lifeline service providers in your locality and study the cell phone types and wireless service plans offered by each.
- Make comparisons between the identified providers.
- Create your account with the provider you find most suitable for you.
Take a look at some Lifeline wireless service providers in the US below:
1. Safelink Wireless
Safelink Wireless is a tech firm under the ownership of Tracfone. It is one of the top companies in terms of providing senior citizen cell phone plans free of charge. Tracfone deploys the networks of the four major carriers. Senior citizen cell phone plans free of charge from Safelink Wireless. As noted above, the services offered by Lifeline service providers, including Safelink Wireless, varies from state to state.
- Free 3GB of data per month.
- Free 3-way calling.
- Safelink Wireless Free 350 minutes per month.
- Free text messaging.
- Weaker coverage when compared to Assurance.
- Inefficient customer service.
2. Assurance Wireless
Assurance Wireless is another top provider of free senior citizen cell phones. It is part of Virgin Mobile which adopts a T-mobile Sprint network.
Assurance Wireless Free Phone Service:
Like the other companies, the services offered by Assurance Wireless are not uniform across all US states. Some of its common services include a minimum of around 350 talk minutes in some states and unlimited talk minutes in other states, as well as 2GB of free data per month.
- A minimum of around 350 talk minutes in some states.
- Unlimited talk minutes in other states.
- 2GB of free data per month.
- No activation fees and long-term contracts.
- Critics say some of the free phones are junk.
- You can’t access the free plans if you decide to bring your own phone which is not compatible with the Assurance firmware.
3. Q LINK Wireless
In October 2019, Q Link Wireless was voted the fastest-growing tech company in the US. It is based in Dania, Florida.
Some Features of Q LINK Wireless Free Senior Citizen Cell Phones:
- Nationwide coverage
- Free Caller ID
- Free monthly 3GB of data
- Q Link Free unlimited talk, and text
- Free Voicemail
- You can bring your own phone
4. Life Wireless
Life Wireless is owned by Telrite Holdings. It is headquartered in Covington, Georgia, the USA.
Some Features of Life Wireless Include:
- Nationwide coverage
- Free 3GB of data per month
- Free 1000 minutes per month
- Caller ID
- Call waiting
- 3-way calling
- Free unlimited SMS, and MMS
- Access to 911/emergency calls
- No domestic long distance calls or roaming charges
The Best Pay As You Go Phone Plans for Seniors
Pay as you go plans can be a good choice for those that do not intend to use phones regularly. With such plans, all you need to do is to subscribe with an initial fee of nearly $14 and then pay for subsequent data, calls, and text messages according to usage. AT&T and T-Mobile particularly offer plans that are suitable for folks who make minimal use of cell phones, for example, to contact family members or seek emergency health care.
Both plans are discussed in greater detail below:
- Plan: T-Mobile PayGo (via Ultra Mobile).
- Monthly subscription fee: $3.
- Plan details: low cost,100 MB 4G LTE data, 100 minutes talk time, and100 text messages; additional usage charges=three cents per megabyte of data/per minute of talk and one cent for each text message.
- Qualitative and varied unlimited plans.
- Strong coverage.
- Holistic pricing with taxes and fees included.
- Netflix available for multi-line plans.
- International extras in texting and internet use.
- Ability to access Mexico and Canada.
- Some T-mobile plans are comparatively more expensive, sometimes.
- You may be unhappy with their Ads.
- Not all plans come with international data.
- 2G speed for international data in some plans.
- Some prefer Verizon or AT&T for their coverage.
- Plan: AT&T Daily.
- Daily subscription fee: $2 per day.
- Plan details: unlimited call minutes and text messages. Note that you pay only on those days you use your phone.
- Strong coverage.
- Decent download speeds.
- Discounts available (not for all groups).
- Some plans can be comparatively expensive.
- Lack of HD streaming in some plans.
3. Pay As You Go SIM – O2
Three Mobile Pay as you go and 1p mobile also plans you may want to look at if you use phones sparingly. The latter two are particularly attractive due to their lower fees. Both plans actually attract the same charges (3 pence per call, 2 pence per message, and 1 penny per MB) but the 02 SIM card is compatible with older smartphone versions while the Three mobile SIM is not. Like O2 and Three Mobile, 1p mobile also attracts very affordable pay-as-you-go charges (just 1 p respectively for data, talk, and messages). However, unlike the other two, the Ip plan requires you to top up with around $120 every four months.
The Best Flexible Plans for Seniors
Flexible plans are decent alternatives to pay-as-you-go plans. In the former, you are only required to pay a fixed monthly fee every month albeit usage is classified. Also, your bills are determined by the intensity of monthly usage. For instance, you are bound to pay more in months of heavier usage (whether data, calls, or messages) than otherwise.
If you desire flexible the best senior citizen cell phone plans the consider those offered by US mobile and consumer cellular. But unlike their pay-as-you-go counterparts, you will have to pay significantly higher fees to enjoy these flexible plans. Data, talk, and text plans provided by both firms start at $20 per month respectively.
US Mobile Pros and Cons:
- You can bring your own device.
- Strong coverage.
- Free features (eg, Spotify Premium, etc).
- fast data speeds.
- Strong coverage.
- customizable plans.
- Inefficient phone selection.
- Discounts not available for family plans.
Consumer Cellular Pros and Cons:
- Affordable plans.
- You can customize your talk, data, and text to your taste.
- Problematic network coverage, sometimes.
- Extra data can be expensive.
The Best Emergency Cell Phone Plan for Senior
From an emergency perspective, GreatCall senior citizen cell phone plans come highly recommended. GreatCall enables users to include health services in their plan. For instance, it is possible to have a live chat with a nurse, pharmacist, and/or doctor. You can also solicit a personal operator to help you make phone calls or schedule your appointments.
In summary, at the click of a button, GreatCall offers an impressive urgent response mechanism that speedily links you to an agent who can then see to your emergency needs. Note that any mobile phone can easily make an emergency 911 call, whether or not it is connected to any service provider.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
It depends on what your needs are because these plans are priced according to data, talk, and text. If you need little data, for example, then you may want to consider some plans by Ting and republic wireless. However, bear in mind that the least expensive plan does not translate to the most ideal plan.
Yes. Senior citizens are eligible for cell phones through the US government’s Lifeline Assistance Program. Some charity organizations also offer free cell phones to senior citizens.
Yes. Those under the Medicaid program qualify for a free Medicaid cell phone with monthly minutes and data via any government-approved Lifeline service provider. Note that US Federal laws permit only one cell phone for each household.
The AARP recommends GreatCall’s Jitterbug phones for seniors.
Companies such as Consumer Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Tracfone Wireless, and GreatCall are highly recommended. But again, it all depends on your needs and preferences. Apart from the four firms mentioned above, feel free to study as wide as possible until you identify what you feel will suit you the most.
All those wishing to be part of the US government’s senior citizen cell phone plans free of charge must meet certain conditions. Upon meeting these conditions, you then have a lot of options to select from. Among the cell phone and plan, options are the Verizon free cell phones for seniors, Medicaid free phone for seniors, AARP free cell phones for seniors, T-mobile plans for seniors, Verizon senior plan, Sprint senior plan, and AT&T senior plan, to mention a few.
However, despite these plethoras of choices, you must take care to ensure that whatever free cell phones or free senior citizen cell phone plan that you opt for is a match for your needs and preferences.