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How to get a free cellular phone from the Obama Administration

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 12:50 p.m. MDT

The Lifeline program has been expanded to include cellphones.

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Making the rounds on the Internet is a YouTube video of an Obama supporter in Cleveland, Ohio, who claims she got a free phone from Obama. But is the claim true? Is it possible to get a free “Obamaphone” from the government or is this an urban myth?

"The 'phone' part is true," James Taranto wrote for The Wall Street Journal. "There is a federally mandated, state-administered program known as Lifeline that subsidizes telephone service for low-income subscribers."

Obamaphone.net reports "Lifeline is a government sponsored program paid for by the Universal Service Fund … administered by the Federal Communications Commission." Customers currently paying for service may find a fee on their telephone bill called the Universal Service Fund that supports the Lifeline program.

Qualifying for the phone varies from state to state, but Snopes.com reports that participants must have an income that is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or take part in at least one government program including, but not limited to food stamps, federal housing, Medicaid, free-lunch program, Head Start or state assistance programs.

With the popularity of cellphones and drop in prices for wireless technology, the Lifeline program has been expanded to include cellphones. Previously it was only available for a home phone. Referring to the YouTube video, Forbes.com contributor Mark Hendrickson said, "The free cell phones about which the woman enthused were the result of policies that predated the Obama presidency."

Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.

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