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Obama Phone: Free Cell Phone Truth or Myth

  • Published: 2012-12-03 (Rev. 2016-04-20) - Contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Where can I get an Obama phone or is it a myth Facts and information regarding the so called ObamaPhone.

Main Document

"Scammers have been spreading text messages promising that the president will cover your bill in full, and all you have to do to take advantage of this amazing deal is to send your account number to a bank account number included in the text. Don't do it!"

Since 2009, there has been an urban myth that President Obama created a program to provide free phones to low-income Americans at taxpayer expense. There is a rumor that Obama is distributing new cellphones and pre-paid minutes to welfare recipients. According to Fact-Check, the U.S. federal government does not offer such a program, and, although low-income households have long been eligible for discounted phone services, it is funded by telecommunications companies, not taxes... and the American president has nothing to do with it.

The U.S. State and Federal government has a program that provides free cellphones and free talk time to people with low income as well as senior citizens. This subsidized program is called Lifeline phones assistance program.

In a recently uploaded YouTube video, an alleged Obama supporter screams about her "Obama phone" at a rally in Ohio. She tells a reporter, "Keep Obama in president, you know! He gave us a phone, he's gonna do more." (See the video clip below)

As The New York Times notes in an editorial, the Obama administration does not pass out free phones for votes. There is however a national program that provides low-income people with free or discounted phones, but it was started under George W. Bush, Obama's Republican predecessor. The two programs are: Lifeline and Link-Up America - (Eligibility and type of program can vary from state to state)

Lifeline: Provides discounts on basic monthly service at a primary residence for qualified telephone customers up to $10.00 per month, or more for certain Native Americans. Generally, to qualify, your income needs to be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. If you, or members in your household are, receiving the following benefits you automatically qualify for the Lifeline program.
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Sect. 8)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • If you are a low-income Eligible Resident of Tribal Lands
  • The National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program.
  • Health Benefit Coverage under Child Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)
  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

More information -

Link-Up: Assists telecommunications consumers with the installation costs of phone services. This program pays up to $30 of the cost of installation and up to $200 in the form of a one year, interest-free loan for extra installation costs.

More information -

These services are provided by government approved companies. The three major companies are Safelink Wireless (a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and air-time each month for income-eligible customers), Assurance Wireless and ReachOut Wireless.

In conclusion there is free phone assistance available to people who qualify - but it is not an Obama administration program. American taxpayers do support the program but not through federal income taxes. Over 8 million Americans have already signed up for the Lifeline program and up to 35% of Americans are qualified.

Caution: Scammers have been spreading text messages promising that the president will cover your bill in full, and all you have to do to take advantage of this amazing deal is to send your account number to a bank account number included in the text. Don't do it!


  1. Obama Signs Technology Access Bill 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act - The legislation gives individuals with vision or hearing loss improved access to television programming smart phones Internet and more.
  2. 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Legislation Passes - AAPD Applauds U.S. Congress for Passing New Accessibility Law for People with Disabilities.
  3. Use of Telephone by Government, Businesses, and Others Instead of Auxiliary Aids or Services - Effective communication means anything that is spoken or written must be as clear and understandable to a person with a disability as it is for a non-disabled person.


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Loan iconLoan programs for low income singles, families, seniors & disabled. Includes grants, home ownership, vehicle modifications, personal loans and scholarships.

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