One of the many services that we offer at Catholic Charities is assistance with the application for an Obamaphone. But what exactly is an “Obamaphone”?

Obamaphones are the informal name for what is actually the Lifeline program. This program was created in 1985 with the purpose of ensuring that every American had access to the benefits that come with having a phone (i.e. additional job opportunities, access to emergency services, and increased family connectedness).

Each household is limited to one free phone and you must match one of the points below to receive one:

  • receive SNAP (Food Stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
  • receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • receive Medicaid
  • receive Section 8 (Federal Public Housing Assistance)
  • receive Tribal specific programs
  • receive Veterans pension and Survivors benefits
  • receive Income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (link)

One benefit of living in NY State is that residents here have additional ways to qualify. I have listed them below:

  • receive HEAP
  • receive Family Assistance
  • receive Safety Net Assistance
  • receive Free School Lunch Program

Here is a link to the NY State eligibility page: link.

Enrollment is relatively easy but there are occasional hang-ups. I personally assisted two clients recently. One had been attempting to enroll for 2 months but had yet to receive their phone. I was able to make a phone call and fix the issue with one well-placed call. Another client of mine was facing difficulties enrolling due to the spelling of her name. I was able to get a custom letter that confirmed her eligibility when normal routes did not and she has now received and activated her phone.

Are you interested in this program? Feel free to stop by Catholic Charities and either I or our service navigator, Ms. Michaela Cortright, can assist you with the application! We can also attempt to help smooth the enrollment process if you have already applied on your own but for one reason or another cannot complete the process.

I have also created a table below that provides information of the different benefits offered by each of the three major Lifeline providers in NY State.


Assurance Access

350 minutes

350 minutes 750 minutes

Unlimited texts

Unlimited texts

Unlimited texts

1 GB data 500 MD data

500 MB data

Coverage map


Coverage map

(Virgin Mobile)

Coverage map


Enroll here (online)

Enroll here (online)

Enroll here (mail)

Soren Klaverkamp



Posted on December 14, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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