You may have seen the half page advertisements in newspapers that “announce free cell phone service for Pennsylvania residents.” We wanted to learn more about the program from the source. So here are some particulars about the program here in Pennsylvania.
According to the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission Website, “Telephone assistance programs are available for consumers with limited incomes. Programs are available to help keep telephone service connected, reduce monthly phone bills, help pay connection fees and avoid shutoffs. Eligibility is determined based on your income or participation in other assistance programs. Remember, when you are seeking telephone assistance, each telephone company and/or program has different eligibility requirements, different benefits and different restrictions.”
At the Website, you will find a link to the federal program: Lifeline Across America. At that Website, you will learn more details about the program. The program particulars are:
“Do you need a phone? Are you having trouble paying your telephone bills? If so, you may be eligible to take advantage of two special programs that help reduce the cost of phone service.
“Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up can help qualified customers get phone service and pay their bills. These are public programs implemented by local telephone companies that help eligible households pay for basic telephone hook-up costs and monthly services.
“You may be qualified if your household income is no more than 135 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines or if you participate in any of the following programs:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Food Stamps
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Free Lunch Program (NSL)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs Program (Tribal TANF, Head Start Subsidy, NSL)
“Lifeline Assistance will help qualified customers who already have telephone service save a significant amount of money on their monthly phone bills, while Link-Up helps eligible customers receive a generous discount on the installation of telephone service in their homes.
“Also, consumers can voluntarily forego presubscribed long distance telephone service by requesting toll-blocking, a service that prevents toll calls (such as long distance) from being made and prevents these consumers from paying hefty service deposits. Customers using this service can still use pre-paid calling cards or dial-around services to place long-distance calls from their homes.
“For more information, or to find out if you qualify for the programs, call your local phone company, the Pennsylvania public utility commission at 1-800-692-7380, or the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322.”