Medicaid Cell Phone

The Lifeline and Link Up programs have teamed up to provide Medicaid cell phones to qualifying low-income households. Lifeline provides the discounted monthly service and Link Up reduces the start-up cost. Both of these programs are supported by the federal Universal Service Fund (Universal Service Fund.) The discount that varies from state to state (up to $10 per month) and the monthly phone service is applied to a basic cell phone service plan for Medicaid-qualifying recipients.

There are other ways to qualify for these discounted phone services. Federal regulations limit the recipient to only ONE Lifeline service at a time. While a Medicaid recipient may qualify for their choice of either a cell phone or a land line. The federal rule limits the discount to only one service per recipient.

The discount from Link Up is a (maximum of $30) one-time discount off the installation/startup cost of either a landline or a cell phone service – not both. To qualify for the Lifeline discount on Medicaid cell phones, you must be receiving some form of government assistance such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc. (A more complete list is listed below.) Every state has its own criteria. For any state that follows the federal eligibility criteria for the Lifeline and Link Up programs, the person must meet just one of two criteria:

 Income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

 Participate in certain assistance programs including Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, Section 8 Housing, Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, TANF, or National Free School Lunch Program.

For 2011, the 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines are as follows:

Persons in Family or Household 135% FPG

1 $14,702

2 $19,859

3 $25,016

4 $30,173

Source: Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 13, January 20, 2011, pp. 3637–3638

If a person is eligible for Medicaid, then that individual is also eligible for the Medicaid cell phone program (Lifeline and Link Up.) For additional information and complete eligibility guidelines, check out the USAC website at or call 1-888-641-8722. Other sources of information include calling a phone service provider for your local area, your own state’s public service commission (PSC) or the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC. Visit the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners website, ( or look in your local phone directory’s Blue Pages or government section for your state’s PSC contact information. To find someone to help you navigate all the red tape, visit If you qualify for Medicaid, then you qualify for a Medicaid cell phone. Check out the links or make the call today to get your Medicaid cell phone.

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