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Government aids through cell service

By: Scott McLendon

The Lifeline service Safelink Wireless offers both a cell phone and corresponding service free of charge to qualifying applicants. Those who already receive government assistance can access this government benefit program. According to Safelinkwireless.com, documentation of income or program participation may be necessary to enroll.

“There are income categories that they go by,” said Cheree Kelley of the Crenshaw County EMA office.

“People can go to safelinkwireless.com, they can call 1-800-723-3546 or they can come by the EMA office and I can walk them through the application. We can make copies of whatever documents are needed, and they can mail in their information.”

Applicants who qualify will be enrolled for a year and will have to reapply annually. Those who receive this service are also responsible for notifying Safelink within 30 days if they no longer qualify for the program. Only one Lifeline support telephone can be used per household.

Qualifying applicants can expect access to nearly every feature typical of service plans such as: call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, voicemail, three-way calling, international long distance and local calls.

“As soon they turn the application in to Safelink, they’ll turn around and contact them with more information regarding the phone,” said

Kelley. “They say it takes two weeks. We don’t personally give out cellphones here, but we can help whoever is interested apply for services through Safelink wireless. There are two different plans and both have 350 minutes. If they want to bring their own phone, then they can. They can bring a phone from a previous plan, and Safelink will program that phone and they can get a little more data.”

Safelink’s terms and conditions warns that by submitting your phone to them, you are allowing their employees, contractors or vendors access to any information from pictures to messages stored on the phone.

The wireless service is also accommodating to those with hearing, visual or speech impairments. Handsets or headsets may be provided to those such applicants.

“Every time someone applies for Food Stamps, they are given the option to apply for this phone as well through Safelink,” Kelley said. “The few applications that I did at the Luverne Senior Center, a lot already had accounts, which means they had applied in the past. So, I think it’s used more than we think.”

A comprehensive coverage of the terms and conditions can be found at

Safelink.com. TracFone.com has a full coverage map.