How Do You Apply for a Free Government Telephone?

To get free government Lifeline telephone services, users must apply with the service provider licensed by their specific state's Department of Human Services. Applicants need to contact the Human Services office in their state to find out who the service provider is. The program is funded by the federal government, but each state controls its own application process. Many potential applicants may already be approved if they are enrolled in some state and federal government low-income assistance programs.

A complete listing of Lifeline service providers for each state is available online from the Universal Service Administration Company at Prospective applicants can also access a pre-application screening tool to check on eligibility requirements on the website. Some eligibility requirements are set by the federal government, but a state does have the latitude to adjust those requirements to fit its economic conditions.

Some applicants are already enrolled in low-income assistance programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. Other programs that ensure automatic eligibility include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the National School Lunch Program.

Native American applicants are automatically eligible for participation in Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance or the Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations.