Lifeline & Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Lifeline program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit program help make phone and internet service more affordable for low-income individuals. Eligible individuals also qualify for a free smartphone through the Lifeline program. If you participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, NJ SNAP or SSI, you automatically qualify for both federal programs.

Lifeline (Free Smartphone Program)

Lifeline is a federal program that provides eligible low-income individuals with a free smartphone and free wireless phone service (free data, free monthly minutes and unlimited texting). This Lifeline program is operated by the federal government, and should not be confused with the state’s Lifeline utility assistance program.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a federal program that helps families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. If you have a Lifeline smartphone, you can also request the Emergency Broadband Benefit for unlimited talk, text and data. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program is temporary and will end when federal funds are expended.

Who is eligible for Lifeline?

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

  • Participates in any of the following programs: NJ SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit and Tribal Programs; or

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Who is eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit?

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

  • Participates in any of the following programs: NJ SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit and Tribal Programs.

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020;

  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;

  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program; or

  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.

How to Apply for Lifeline:

Apply online through the following providers: Assurance Wireless or Safelink Wireless.

You can choose your Lifeline provider. If you already have a Lifeline smartphone, contact your provider and ask for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

  • If you are a Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare member with Horizon, Amerigroup or WellCare, you may receive extra benefits by applying with Safelink Wireless.

  • If you are a Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare member with Aetna, you may receive extra benefits by applying with Assurance Wireless.

Note: Assurance and SafeLink offer Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefit bundles that provide free, unlimited talk, text, and data with 10GB hotspot data.

How to Apply for Emergency Broadband Benefit:

If you already have a Lifeline smartphone, contact your provider and ask for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

You can also:

  • Contact a participating broadband provider and ask about their application process.