Low-income seniors may be eligible for the federal LifeLine Assistance Program, which provides a free cell phone and service. The FCC also makes free phones available for the hearing-impaired, and some of the major service providers have special discount plans for seniors.
Eligibility for LifeLine Assistance varies by state, but being on a form of government assistance such as Medicaid, EBT or SSI generally makes a person eligible. The program is funded by the major phone service companies, and the phone provided is generally one of their basic prepaid models. The phone and service are provided through a private company that is associated with one of the major phone carriers. LifeLine Assistance is not available in some states, however.
Some of the major carriers also have lower-cost plans for seniors who do not expect to have a high volume of phone usage. AT&T's Senior Nation 200 plan offers unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling and 200 Anytime minutes for other types of calls. Verizon's Nationwide 65 Plus plan has similar terms. Consumer Cellular tailors its overall service to seniors, providing a range of phones with large buttons and low-cost plans with limited amounts of minutes. GreatCall offers a similar service to that of Consumer Cellular.