Securing Government Discounts on Your Mobile Phone Bill

The government offers several programs that provide monthly discounts on mobile phone bills for qualifying low-income individuals and families. These discounts, administered by the FCC, can help make phone and internet services more affordable and accessible. With the high cost of mobile plans today, government discounts on your phone bill can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year.


There are a few key government programs that provide discounts on phone bills for those who qualify. The main eligibility requirements are focused on low-income households, veterans, seniors, tribal residents, and those participating in certain government assistance programs.

The Affordable Connectivity Program offers up to a $30/month discount on internet service for households at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. It also offers up to $75/month for households on Tribal lands. Eligibility is based on income level or participation in certain government assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, and others.

The Lifeline program provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on home phone or mobile phone bills. Eligibility is based on income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participation in government assistance programs. Tribal residents can qualify for up to $34.25 off per month.

Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care and those experiencing homelessness may also qualify for Lifeline discounts through expanded eligibility criteria in certain states and from certain carriers.

Major Carriers

All of the major wireless carriers in the U.S. offer some form of discounts for government employees and low-income households. Here’s an overview of the main government discount programs offered by the top carriers:


Verizon offers discounts through their Lifeline program for low-income customers, providing discounted home phone and internet. They also give 15-22% discounts for military, veterans, nurses, teachers and other groups through their Verizon Discounts program.


AT&T provides a 15% discount for military, veterans, and first responders. They also offer discounted wireless service and home internet for qualified low-income households through their Access from AT&T program, which is part of the federal Lifeline program.


T-Mobile gives discounts of up to 15% off service for military, veterans, seniors 55+, as well as first responders and their families. They provide discounted wireless plans through their Assurance Wireless Lifeline program.


Sprint offers a 15% discount to military personnel and veterans. They also provide discounted wireless service to low-income customers through their Assurance Wireless Lifeline program.

Applying for Discounts

To apply for government discounts on your mobile phone bill through the Lifeline or Affordable Connectivity Programs, you’ll need to submit an application and provide documentation of eligibility.

You can apply for the Lifeline program through your phone carrier. Most major carriers like Verizon have information on their websites about applying for Lifeline discounts (source). You’ll need to fill out an application and submit proof of your participation in qualifying programs like Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, or proof of low income.

For the Affordable Connectivity Program, you apply directly through the FCC website at You’ll need to provide your full name, date of birth, contact information, and opt-in to receive program-related emails. Documentation of eligibility based on a qualifying program or low income is also required.

Make sure to follow all instructions carefully when submitting documentation. Applications are processed within a few weeks, after which discounts will be applied to your monthly bill if approved.

Lifeline Program

The Lifeline Program is a federal government benefit program that provides a monthly discount on phone or internet service for qualifying low-income consumers. The program is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is designed to help ensure that all Americans have access to affordable communications services.

According to the FCC’s website (, Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers. Subscribers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a wireline or a wireless service, but may not receive discounts on both services at the same time. Lifeline also supports broadband and broadband-voice bundles.

To participate in the Lifeline program, subscribers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, or Tribal Programs. There are also additional eligibility requirements related to household income that apply in some states.

Interested participants can apply for Lifeline either directly through their phone or internet company, or through a state agency or other designated Lifeline enrollment entities. Applicants must provide documentation proving program-based or income-based eligibility. Once approved, subscribers must recertify their Lifeline eligibility every year.

State Programs

California has state programs that provide additional discounts on mobile phone service beyond the federal Lifeline program. The main state program is called California LifeLine.

The California LifeLine program provides discounts on home phone and cell phone services to qualified low-income households in California. Discounts range from $12.75 to $20.75 per month depending on your carrier (California LifeLine Program).

To qualify for California LifeLine, your household income must be below certain income limits based on household size. For example, a family of four must have a household income below $40,840. You can check the full eligibility requirements on the California LifeLine website.

California LifeLine allows one discounted line per household. You’ll need to apply directly through your phone carrier and provide proof of eligibility.


There are some restrictions and requirements to receive government discounts on mobile phone plans. According to the FCC’s Lifeline program overview, consumers may only receive one Lifeline benefit per household, whether landline, wireless, or broadband internet. Subscribers must provide documentation proving eligibility such as proof of income or participation in certain government assistance programs.

The Affordable Connectivity Program also limits eligible households to one monthly service discount per household, according to the FCC. Additionally, ACP recipients cannot receive the Emergency Broadband Benefit and the ACP benefit at the same time. Consumers must agree to use the ACP discount only for personal use, not to resell service, and follow any additional provider restrictions in order to maintain eligibility.

Saving Money

There are several ways to maximize the savings from government phone discounts like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) [1] and Lifeline [2]:

Compare all the discount programs and choose the one that provides the highest discount for your circumstances. The ACP provides up to $30/month off your mobile bill, while Lifeline can save at least $9.25/month.

Opt for a cheaper data plan if you don’t use much mobile data. Most carriers offer plans with just talk and text, which can further reduce your bill.

Use WiFi whenever possible to minimize mobile data usage. Enable WiFi calling on your phone to route calls over WiFi networks.

Avoid financing expensive new phones. Bring your own device or buy an inexpensive unlocked phone to save on equipment charges.

Look for other carrier discounts like autopay enrollment or bundling mobile with other services.

Consider switching carriers if another network offers better discounts. Compare all options to find the best savings.

Call your carrier annually to review available discounts and ensure you’re enrolled in all eligible programs.

Alternative Options

There are several alternative options to consider that can help reduce your monthly cell phone bill:

Use apps like WhistleOut and BillShrink to analyze your usage and suggest more affordable cell phone plans. These apps connect to your account, assess your needs, and recommend plans with cheaper rates.

Consider switching to a prepaid cell phone plan rather than a standard postpaid plan. Prepaid plans allow you to pay upfront each month for a set amount of minutes, texts, and data. This helps avoid overages that can drive up your bill.

Use WiFi calling and messaging through apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to reduce cellular data usage. Connect to WiFi whenever possible to make calls and send messages without tapping into your monthly allotment.

Disable cellular data for apps that don’t need an internet connection to operate. Restrict background data and turn on data saving modes on your phone to limit data usage.

Purchase a standalone mobile hotspot rather than tethering or using your phone’s mobile hotspot feature. Mobile hotspots often have more affordable data rates than smartphones.


To continue receiving discounts through the Affordable Connectivity Program or Lifeline program, beneficiaries must re-apply and re-certify their eligibility annually. According to the FCC, ACP recipients will receive a notice when it is time to re-certify, typically 1 year after enrollment. To re-certify, users must confirm they still meet the ACP eligibility requirements by visiting or contacting their participating broadband provider. Failure to re-certify eligibility will result in losing the monthly ACP benefit.

For Lifeline, subscribers must re-certify continued eligibility each year by completing and submitting a re-certification form. This form is sent by mail or email from the Lifeline Support Center around 60 days prior to the subscriber’s anniversary date. Subscribers can also re-certify by phone through an automated system or by calling their provider. Failing to re-certify eligibility by the deadline will lead to de-enrollment from Lifeline discounts.

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