As of 2016, it is possible to obtain a free phone through the federally mandated Lifeline Assistance Program. In this program, cellphone providers give a free cellphone along with free cellphone services to individuals with low income.
Individuals receiving a free cellphone through the Lifeline Assistance Program must meet the eligibility criteria. They have to either have an income that is at or below 135 percent of the poverty level set by the government or be part of an assistance program that provides food stamps, Medicaid or housing assistance. This service is available for one qualified person per household and is useful to access health care services and contact family and in case of emergencies.