As of 2015, applying for an Obama phone and service requires meeting certain federal and state low-income requirements and qualifying for government assistance programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid and SSI. Upon qualification, applicants must apply for a phone with a cellphone carrier that covers their location.
Obtaining an Obama phone requires completing several steps. The first is to prove eligibility for the program. Most people qualify by participating in low-income government assistance programs. However, requirements vary from state to state, so it is important for applicants to determine if the state in which they reside requires additional eligibility criteria. Next, applicants can select the cellphone they want. Different states offer different phones under the program, so cellphone choices depend on the state they live in.
Once applicants have established eligibility, they then choose a cellphone provider in their state and decide which plan best meets their needs. While most programs are similar, some offer deals and features that others do not. The final step requires applicants to complete an online application that the carrier provides. After a time, the phone arrives by mail.
Obama phones are available as the result of a government-mandated program, called Lifeline Assistance, to provide low-income individuals a free cellphone and service with minutes and texting. As of 2015, 49 states take part in the program, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.