The Federal Communications Commission provides cell phones to low-income Americans who apply for assistance through its Lifeline program. The program also provides prepaid minutes for use on the phone each month in which the recipient is eligible, as of 2015.
Eligibility for Lifeline can be established in two ways: income and participation in an assistance program. Applicants who earns less than 135 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $11,770 for a single person or $24,250 for a family of four, qualify for Lifeline.
Even if an applicant earns above the poverty level, participation in an assistance program guarantees eligibility. Such programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Head Start and the federal school lunch program.