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Aid Recipients Can Apply for Phones at Social Services Sites

Aid Recipients Can Apply for Phones at Social Services Sites

 Santa Clara County

The Santa Clara County Social Services Agency announced that it has agreed to make it possible for interested and eligible individuals to learn about, and apply for, a free wireless service for low-income county residents. Interested residents who meet the eligibility requirements, including those enrolled in CalWORKS, CalFresh, Medi-Cal or General Assistance programs, may apply.

Under the California LifeLine Program, the County is allowing Budget Mobile, a cell phone vendor to accept applications for the service from eligible low-income households at two of the Agency sites.  Eligible customers will receive a free mobile phone with 1,000 minutes and unlimited texting every month. Phone features include voicemail, call waiting, caller ID and access to 911 service and nationwide coverage.

“It is nearly impossible to function without access to a phone,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Chair of the Board’s Children, Seniors and Families. “The Wireless LifeLine service will help clients to access basic services, such as inquiring about employment and health services.”

The California LifeLine Program, a government benefit program supported by the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) and funded through the Public Utilities Commission, provides discounts on monthly telephone service for eligible low-income subscribers.  Its goal is to ensure that all people living in the United States have the opportunities and security offered by a phone service, such as connecting people to jobs, family and emergency services. In addition to traditional landline service, earlier this year, the California LifeLine program was updated to include discounts to qualifying low-income consumers on wireless service.

“We are able to make it possible for clients to access the Wireless LifeLine service at no cost to the County,” said Bruce Wagstaff, Director, County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency.  “We are simply dedicating space in two of our existing facilities where people can come to apply for the service.”

Eligible and interested clients can apply for this free cell phone and service Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., at the CalWORKs Employment Services office main lobby at 1879 Senter Road, San Jose, and the Social Services South County site at 379 Tompkins Ct., in Gilroy.

They need to bring a photo ID such as a driver’s license, and ID from DMV or a school ID card, as well as a proof of low income status such as an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card or Medi-CAL card.

Within 10 days, eligible customers will receive a free mobile phone with 1,000 minutes and unlimited texting every month with the company’s California Connect Plan.  According to federal rules, eligible low-income consumers cannot receive more than one LifeLine discount per household.  Individuals may not use their own phones for the program and may not keep current phone numbers.  An eligible consumer may receive a discount on either a wireline or wireless service, but not both.  There is no cost to eligible individuals for the current service offered by Budget Mobile, unless they exceed the 1,000 minutes.

A consumer, whose household currently is receiving more than one LifeLine service, must select a single LifeLine provider and contact the other provider to de-enroll from their program.  Consumers violating this rule may also be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties. For those already having an existing California LifeLine at home, it can be transferred to the Budget Mobile cell phone that is now being offered at County sites.

To participate in the Wireless LifeLine program offered by Budget Mobile, consumers with proper proof of eligibility may be qualified to enroll. They must either have an income that is at or below 150% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in one of the following government assistance programs:

·Medicaid; Medi-Cal

·Supplemental Security Income (SSI);

·Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)

·Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

·Federal Public House Assistance (Section 8);Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);

·Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (CalFresh or SNAP);

·National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program;

·Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF);

·Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance;

·Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF);

·Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR);

·Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met); or

·State assistance programs (if applicable).

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