Phones for Seniors
Free Cell Phones for Seniors – How?
One group of people that are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Lifeline Assistance Plan has been senior citizens. The special needs of seniors are well served by the convenience of free cell phones, as the phones keep them connected with their families who may be miles away, or give access to emergency health care. As well served as many seniors are by the program, it is also clear that as a group, they are the group that is least aware of the existence of it.Judging by the e-mail requests we receive, it is clear that many people are interested in getting cell phones help their elderly relatives.
How do Seniors Qualify for Free Cell Phones?
Unfortunately, there is no specific plan in the Lifeline Assistance Program for seniors to get a free cell phone, nor do any of the carriers we cover offer a special plan for seniors. Senior citizens are subject to the same requirements as the rest of the population to get a free cell phone. However, there are a few states that have government-assistance programs that specifically target senior citizens; and those receiving benefits under these plans are usually eligible for free cell phones. Some of these programs are:
- Most providers accept recipients of Supplemental Security Income (NOT Social Security)
- Rhode Island’s Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Elderly Plan
- Wisconsin’s & Colorado’s Old Age Pension
- Massachusetts Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC)
- New Jersey Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged & Disabled (PAAD)
Otherwise, if they do not participate in a government-assistance plan, seniors most likely will qualify under income provisions. Some retirees living on pensions or reduced income will qualify under income guidelines. The income guidelines vary from state-to-state, but many seniors may find that their household incomes, based on retirement income, qualify them for free cell phones.
What are the best phones for seniors?
There are a few phones that have specifically designed with seniors in mind. For example, the Jitterbug Plus, made by the Jitterbug company, is probably the best phone on the market geared toward seniors.
It has large keys, a clearly-visible screen, a simplified layout, a long-life battery and an amplified speaker to take care of special needs. It even features a dial tone, so that it is easy to know when it is ok to make a call. The problem is the cost. The monthly plans are a bit pricey, and the phone itself costs around $99, and service is subject to an activation charge. Therefore, it is not a very economical option for many seniors
Unfortunately, for absolutely free phones there are not a lot of phones geared specifically for seniors. The providers under the Lifeline Assistance Programs do not offer many of the most-senior-friendly models. However, most of the companies will send hearing-aid compatible phones upon request. Please check with a carrier that operates in your state.
Reachout Wireless is the major carrier that gives its customers the option to select their phone from the widest selection of models, but they don’t have many phones that are specially geared to seniors.
What if I don’t qualify for a free phone?
If a senior citizen does not qualify for a free phone, but does have a small monthly budget for phone services, the choices are better. Tracfone, the parent company of Safelink Wireless has a phone called the SVC Senior Value Cell Phone, which is a Samsung T155G. It sells for $20, and can be found in K-Marts across the country. This model has oversized keys which are illuminated, for easing of viewing and use; large text and a larger-than-average screen. Like the free government cell phones, no credit check, no activation charge and no monthly bills are required to use them. The good news is that since this is a Tracfone phone, it will work on the Safelink Wireless plan.
Another cheap, but not free, option is a Doro Phone. A Swedish phone maker, the company has made 4 models of inexpensive phones that are geared toward senior citizens. Their phones all have large text and large keypad buttons. Their least expensive phones start at around $45 and go up from there.
Consumer Cellular (1-888-345-5509) is selling the latest model, the Doro PhoneEasy 410 for $60, with no activation charge.
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