Today, cell phones seem to be one of the essentials, and the case can be made for many different reasons. While they may be easier to access for those in the working class, seniors often cannot say the same.
Therefore, the question of affordable phone service for seniors comes into the picture. As a senior, you will potentially need assistance from a health standpoint, and you are more susceptible to certain conditions. These, alongside other reasons, necessitate your staying in contact with your loved ones or emergency personnel.
You never know when an emergency can happen, and you always need to be able to reach someone if one should occur. It stands to reason then that a cell phone is very important.
Landline phones exist, but they don't have the flexibility that cell phones do, being able to go just about anywhere with you.
You're also not going to get all the interesting features that you can on a cell phone if you go with a landline. Cell phones are consistently being improved, and remember you may not always be able to pick one up and dial a number in an emergency, for example. In these cases, the accessibility features that your cell phone could provide may just save your life.
On the more casual side of things, there is staying in contact as family means more to you than it ever has before. Today, you will learn a bit about what you can do to get access to a discounted cell phone.
Available Options for Discounted Cell Phones
Affordable cell phones for seniors can come in a few different flavors. There is the Lifeline program that can actually help older adults to get access to phones that are completely free. This is a program that has existed since 1985, falling under the Federal Communication Commission.
Apart from that, there is the AARP, allowing eligible members to access discounts on activation fees, plans, accessories, and of course, the cell phones themselves. These discounts can be applied across different providers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Cricket Wireless.
There is also the Association of Mature American Citizens or AMAC. As a member, you can get a free iPhone SE alongside a free three-year AMC membership. You can also access the perk of 50% off of your pure talk monthly plan.
Apart from bodies established to provide benefits to seniors, you can go to cellular providers, and you'll find that some of them offer discounts too. Take T-Mobile, for example, which has multiple plans aimed at those over 55.
If you are looking for 5G phones for seniors, you may have come to the right place, considering T-Mobile has a 5G network and you can get access starting at a monthly cost of $27.50.
Lively is another pretty common option, allowing seniors to get access to cell phones that are not only simple to navigate, but excellently designed to act as safety devices, should an emergency occur.
Consumer cellular is another option to consider, specifically designing plans for those over 55 years old, with special discounts being offered to AARP members.
Bear in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list as there are other programs out there too.
Eligibility and Application Process
Naturally, you want to know if you qualify for affordable wireless phones for seniors, since your eligibility is going to guide your potential accessibility.
Your being eligible will be based on the program that you are looking to take advantage of and what your situation looks like.
For example, if you go to a cell phone provider directly that has a proprietary program only concerned with age, then you may not need to do much more than show a government-issued ID indicating that you are indeed above the threshold.
However, other programs may have greater requirements. The Lifeline program is a good example of this, requiring that certain information and documentation is provided, after which a verifier will check everything that was submitted.
Here, you will need to provide proof of identity, the name of the qualifying program you're a part of, verification of your household income (which must be 135% or less than federal poverty guidelines), proof of life, and more.
Some of these may require you to submit more than one piece of documentation, especially if the system should determine that there were any errors in your applications. You may apply via mailing in your application or submitting it online.
Upon application and verifying that you qualify for the program, then you will need to choose the phone or internet company you plan to use within 90 days & up for service with them. Bear in mind that if you already have a cell phone company, you can reach out to them and request that your Lifeline benefit be added to your existing service.
Costs and Limitations
Again, these will be unique to whichever program you are taking advantage of to access discounted cell phones. Using Verizon as an example, low-end phones are available, costing as low as $99. Of course, the drawback here is that the feature set would be a bit more limited than a standard cell phone.
Apart from trying to get a free service, you can also go for a Lifeline cell service discount, which can see you getting up to $9.25 off your monthly bill. It will also include minimum internet bandwidth and voice minute allowances.
Another option is to take advantage of promotional discounts at signup, which are often offered to new customers. The drawback here is that you would need to pay off the phone before you can switch providers.
Whichever program you are interested in, it's always an excellent idea to learn about what the agreement will come with, what costs you will have to keep in mind, and what kind of rules you may need to abide by.
Arguably more important than all these is finding out what kind of restrictions may apply to the specific program since it wouldn't be very helpful for you to get a phone that simply cannot meet your needs.
Accommodations and Assistive Technologies
Here's another one that is invaluably important to seniors. There need to be appropriate assistive technologies on just about any phone, and these are meant to improve your accessibility and allow you to function better in the context of an emergency. Here's a look at some of the most notable features.
First, there are emergency one-touch buttons, which are exactly what they sound like. For example, if you need somebody to come to your location immediately, your phone can be set up to have you press a button a couple of times in succession, which will then send a message to a loved one along with your location indicating that there is an emergency.
Similarly, if it's emergency personnel such as an ambulance that is needed, similar configurations can be made for this kind of purpose.
Hearing impairment may also be something that you struggle with, and you'll find that many of these phones come with extra loud volumes to assist.
Visual impairment is treated in the same way, having a couple of features that are specifically designed to assist seniors that struggle with it. For example, there are brighter screens, alongside the ability to make text and other elements on your screen larger, which will allow you to see better.
If you want to text but find typing difficult either because of visual or finger mobility challenges, there is talk texting that allows you to simply say what needs to be typed. The phone can also read back your text.
For those who may struggle with hearing, there is also call captioning that can allow you to read what is being said.
What about simply navigating the phone? Some models will come with an AI phone assistant that you can ask for help with pretty much any feature.
Of course, what's available will depend on the model, and while some features are automatic, others will need to be turned on. Thankfully, your loved ones can assist you, but if not, you can typically get technical Support too.
Bear in mind that there are also third-party offerings that can help with disabilities. The Be My Eyes app is an excellent example of this. Visually impaired seniors, for example, can register. When you need assistance, you can simply make a call through the app, which will be answered by a volunteer.
The said volunteer will be able to see via your camera and answer whatever questions you may have about what is being seen. Note that the number of volunteers far outweighs the number of those who need help, so getting assistance is never a problem.
Additional Benefits and Services
Plans that are designed for seniors needing affordable phones will often come with extras to allow for living the best quality of life possible.
Lively is a great example of this. First, the two phones that are offered under its programs are specifically designed to be easily manipulated by older adults. These designs feature simplicity, large displays, large number pads, and just enough Internet connectivity to satisfy your basic needs.
One of the two phones has more features than the other, being more like a smartphone, which is better for seniors on the more tech-savvy side of the fence.
Along with the considerate designs, it's possible to choose safety packages offering a personal operator and access to a new emergency response line. Seniors will then be able to push a single designated button, being immediately connected to someone who can help.
Conditions, such as dementia, are well supported here. A part of this is the simple design, which means not having to remember the complicated nuances of a typical smartphone. Beyond this, however, is the integrated medical alert system that has interfaces for both seniors and caregivers. One example of its real-world use is constant GPS tracking, which makes it that much easier to find seniors who may have inadvertently wandered off.
Technical Support and Duration
This is yet another area that is going to be based on the specific plans and phones chosen. For example, if you're supposed to make your purchase directly from a cell service provider such as Verizon or AT&T, then the extent of customer support and contract length will depend on what is set by the provider.
You will often find, though, that these companies have teams of people dedicated to assisting customers, even those who are on the senior side of life.
As you are registering, ensure that you take the time to understand your benefits and how long you will have them for, so if a renewal or a new subscription is required, you will be able to get one when the time is right.
Nationwide Availability and Programs
As a senior citizen of the United States, you shouldn't have challenges restricting you based on your location, provided that you are in the country. Be that as it may, all programs will have an eligibility verification process that you can use to check if you can get access to them.
So, if you are interested in the affordable connectivity program or the Lifeline program, for example, simply provide the required information and documentation to check if you're eligible.
Tips for Maximizing Benefits
Cell phone discounts for seniors are valuable, which means that while taking advantage of them, you want to keep them as long as you possibly can. The best piece of advice to this end is to ensure that you are using the phone how it was intended to be used.
If you have a limited amount of data, you may want to use it sparingly, ensuring that you can have access in case of an emergency.
Take care of the mobile devices as much as possible, using screen protectors and phone cases where possible.
If you're going to be near pooled water at any point in time, keep the phone in a position where it cannot fall into it. Similarly, try to avoid using your phone while eating or drinking unless necessary.
Affordable cell phones for seniors can come in a lot of flavors. Bear in mind that there are programs offered by the government that you can use with accepted providers, or you can go to the providers themselves.
Take the time to understand the eligibility requirements that may be required of you before you finalize. Additionally, it's good to know if any disabilities or challenges you may have are supported by the program our full and you're interested in.