Low-income people can get assistance with basic phone costs, for either a landline or cell phone. The federal Lifeline program offers a $9.25 discount on landline service or a free or discounted cell phone with some free calls or texts per month, depending on individual circumstances and available plans.
Lifeline replaces a state discount program that expired at the end of August. Only one Lifeline discount is allowed per address.
People who participate in or are eligible for public-assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the free school lunch program are eligible for Lifeline.
The program has been mandated by the Federal Communications Commission since 1985 and is funded by the Universal Service Fund fees on telephone bills. General information on the program is available at www.fcc.gov/lifeline.
To apply for Lifeline benefits, contact your local telephone company or www.freegovernmentcellphones.net.
For assistance, call the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at (888) 333-9882.