Low-cost internet & mobile plans for seniors

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In an ever-changing world where social media, video calls, and texting have become the norm, we all need to stay connected with our loved ones. With these shifts in communication, seniors are at risk of being left by the wayside, as fixed-income budgets limit their ability to access the newest and fastest internet and mobile plans. Also, learning to use the new technologies can be frustrating and daunting for the first-time senior user.

 

That’s why we put together this guide for seniors to walk you through the plans and programs out there to help seniors stay connected. In this senior internet guide, you’ll find low-cost internet programs, discounted mobile plans, and digital literacy classes to teach you how to use everything.

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How Seniors Can Qualify for the FCC Lifeline Program

The Lifeline program is a federal assistance program through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that helps low- and fixed-income Americans, such as seniors, obtain affordable telephone and internet service.

 

Lifeline works with internet service providers (ISPs) to give you a discount of up to $9.25 per month off your internet bill or $5.25 per month off your phone bill. To apply for the Lifeline program, seniors must have an income at or below the 135 percent federal poverty guidelines or be enrolled in a preexisting federal assistance program. Here are all the qualifying programs the FCC recognizes for Lifeline participants:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Tribal programs (for those living on federally recognized tribal lands)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called Food Stamps
 

istockphoto / DisobeyArt

 

Popular Internet Providers That Partner With the Lifeline Program

Several internet and phone providers around the U.S. partner with the Lifeline program to offer discounted services to seniors. The following table lists some of the most popular internet providers that accept the Lifeline discount:

Popular Internet Providers

Prominent Telephone Providers That Partner With the Lifeline Program

If you don’t choose to use your Lifeline discount for internet, then you can apply it to a qualifying telephone or cellphone service. Whether you want a wireless plan or a landline home phone, these companies are some of the most popular Lifeline telephone providers:

Popular telephone providers

The Affordable Connectivity Program for Seniors

On January 1, 2022, the FCC replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a new long-term 14.2 billion fund that helps low-income Americans, including seniors, pay for internet service and computer devices. If you qualify, the program can save you up to $30 per month off broadband service and up to $100 off a laptop, desktop, or tablet (as long as you contribute $10 to $50 toward the purchase price).

How Seniors Can Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program

Seniors with an income of 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level ($12,880 for an individual or $17,420 for a couple in most states) immediately qualify for the ACP. You may also qualify by participating in a federal assistance program such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline.

 

Signing up for the ACP is a relatively easy process. Just follow one of these three methods to start getting your discounted broadband internet:

  1. Contact a participating internet provider. Find an internet provider in your area who is partnering with the ACP. Follow their application process to get the benefit and broadband access.
  2. Apply online. Go to the USAC Affordable Connectivity Program website to apply and find the best internet provider near you.
  3. Mail your application. If the first two options aren’t for you, you can print a copy at home. Then, mail it with copies of documents showing your proof of eligibility to the ACP Support Center at P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.

Fixed-Income Internet Provider Programs for Seniors

Lifeline and the ACP aren’t the only dedicated programs providing affordable internet to seniors. Many internet providers offer service plans and packages tailored specifically to seniors on a fixed income. Check out this table for some of the best internet plans for seniors:

Fixed-Income Internet Provider

Applying for Provider Internet Assistance Programs

Most internet providers make applying for internet assistance as straightforward as possible. The process usually consists of determining if service is available in your neighborhood, applying for the discount, and then verifying the discount. Here are the steps in a nutshell:

  1. Check the provider’s availability. Enter your address on the internet provider’s website to see whether they service your neighborhood.
  2. Submit an application. Apply online through the provider’s internet assistance program page or by mail. The provider will ask you to attach your paperwork for proof of eligibility based on the documentation and programs they accept.
  3. Verify your status and sign up. Most internet providers will inform you whether you’ve obtained approval within a week. You should then see the program discount on your first bill from the internet provider.

 

Organizations That Help Seniors With Internet Access and Digital Devices

Many nonprofit organizations around the U.S. strive to assist seniors with getting internet access, technical support, and computers. These groups are even happy to help seniors navigate their application process. Here are a few of our favorite organizations helping seniors connect to the internet and find low-cost digital devices:

Organizations That Help Seniors With Internet Access

Discounted Mobile Plans and Cell Phones for Seniors

A large part of staying digitally connected means taking advantage of the convenience and service that mobile phone plans provide. While some phones (and plans, for that matter) carry pretty hefty price tags, several wireless companies offer discounted services for seniors.

Discounted Mobile Plans and Cell Phones for Seniors

Digital Literacy Programs for Seniors

As technology changes and new devices become vital for day-to-day life, it can be difficult to get the training you need to stay connected. However, several organizations help seniors learn about new devices and how to use them. Here’s a list of popular organizations providing a boost to your internet and mobile communication skills:

Digital Literacy Programs for Seniors

Additional Internet Resources for Seniors

While internet service providers and dedicated nonprofit organizations are great options for helping seniors get online, your local community has programs and resources as well. Here are some helpful places in your area that assist seniors with internet access and digital devices:

  • Public libraries: Local libraries commonly host digital skills workshops open to the public, many of which are specially designed for seniors. These public institutions also have free internet access, and some libraries will even let you borrow a hot spot or a laptop from them with your free library card.
  • Community resource centers: Also known as recreation centers, community resource centers sometimes provide affordable internet devices or hold computer training sessions tailored for seniors.
  • Community colleges: Your local community college or technical college offers digital literacy courses and free internet access to seniors. Even though some community colleges may have fees for these courses, many community colleges waive tuition for seniors with proof of eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions About Internet and Mobile Plans for Seniors

How can seniors get discounted or free internet?

Seniors on a fixed income, or those who participate in select government assistance programs, can get discounted or free internet through the Lifeline program, the ACP, internet provider programs, or programs sponsored by nonprofit organizations.

How can seniors qualify for the Lifeline program?

Seniors can qualify for the FCC’s Lifeline program by meeting one of three conditions: Your income is 135 percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines, you participate in federal assistance programs (SNAP, FPHA, Medicaid, SSI, SSDI, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit), or you have a child or dependent who participates in a federal assistance program.

If I don’t qualify for Lifeline, can I still get discounted internet?

Yes, it may still be possible to get discounted internet even if you don’t qualify for Lifeline. Internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Xfinity have independent discount programs. Also, several nonprofit organizations help seniors get affordable internet. However, many of these programs ask for similar eligibility requirements as Lifeline.

How can seniors get discounted or free mobile plans?

If you qualify for the federal government’s Lifeline program, you can obtain a free cell phone and discounted cell phone service through participating providers. You’ll need to apply online with Lifeline. Once you’re approved, you can contact any participating cell phone provider and enroll for a free phone and discounted service.

What is the cheapest internet service for seniors?

Several internet providers offer deeply discounted internet to seniors with speeds capable of handling online streaming or video chatting with loved ones. Internet Essentials from Comcast provides qualifying seniors internet service with speeds up to 50 Mbps for $9.95 per month.

Where can seniors learn to use the internet?

Many nonprofit and community-based organizations provide both in-person and virtual digital literacy courses for seniors. For example, the nonprofit organization Oasis Connections offers affordable, virtual technology classes and related courses to seniors across the country.

 

This page is for everyone who feels lost in the digital age. Understanding the internet and TV market is difficult considering how much it changes.

Here you’ll find information on the best ways to get internet and TV that can accommodate to your circumstances, answers to frequently asked questions about internet and TV technology and terminology and simple explanations to some of the most confusing topics related to internet and TV.

 

This article originally appeared on Inmyarea.com and was syndicated MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

These are the worst states for seniors

 

Life expectancy in the United States plummeted dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a two-year decline between 2019 and 2020,  the most significant single-year drop since World War II. But, it turns out that, despite the dark prognosis, Americans entering their golden years are living their best lives … better and longer than 50 years ago.

 

Seniorly.com conducted a study to find out which states have seen the most improvements in seniors’ quality of life over the past decade, and which states are failing to keep up.

 

According to the study, while life expectancy has shrunk in recent years, many of the problems affecting seniors have subsided. There is a notable decline in death rates from diseases like cancer, heart disease, and COPD, which are some of the leading causes of death for older adults. Moreover, a larger Social Security check has been noted (even after factoring in inflation), and fewer older people are experiencing social isolation due to difficulties like living alone and lacking internet access.

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To find out which states are the best or the worst for seniors in America, the study compared all states across four major categories (physical health, mental health, finances, and social factors) with all categories having at least two individual metrics. A total of 12 individual ranking factors were included, and states were awarded points based on their rank in each factor, with a best possible score of 306.

Physical health

“We compared the age-adjusted rates of the top five causes of death of older adults (excluding COVID-19), which are Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease for the years 2011 and 2020. This data came via a custom query to the CDC’s WONDER database” reads the analysis.

 

In 2020, amid the raging pandemic, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States, with only cancer and heart disease taking more lives. These top causes of death, along with Alzheimer’s disease, COPD, and diabetes, were more common for people over the age of 65.

 

To determine which states are the best in combating these diseases, the study calculated the rate of change for all five top causes of death for those 65 and older (Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease) over the past decade. In the final analysis, the rate of change for all five diseases was averaged and each state’s score was weighted by a factor of 2.5, given the importance of physical health.

Mental health

“We compared the age-adjusted rates of suicide among those 65 and older for the years 2011 and 2020 using a WONDER query, as well as the percentage of older adults reporting having no bad mental health days in the past month for the years 2011 and 2020. This figure came via a custom query of the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System” the study notes.

 

When adding the mental health into the equation, most states do poorly, with a significant increase in suicide rates for older adults. Two factors were considered  in this category — the percentage of older adults who reported having stable mental health days in the past month and the age-adjusted rate of death by suicide for those 65 and older.

 

While only one state excelled in both categories, five states showed improvements in the share of older adults reporting to have no bad mental well-being days, and 13 states have seen the rate of suicides among older adults fall in the past decade.

Finances

“We compared the change in the average monthly Social Security retirement benefit for 2011 and 2020, adjusting the 2011 figures for inflation at a cumulative rate of 15 percent. We also calculated the change in the share of older adults below the poverty line in each state with data from the U.S. Census Bureau for the years 2011 and 2020.” the study writes.

The financial well-being of seniors is a mixed bag. Each state has seen its monthly Social Security retirement check increase by inflation, but more than half of states are also seeing an increase in the number of people aged 65 and older living below the poverty line.

Social factors

“Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we analyzed how the risk of social isolation for older adults has changed via these three metrics: householders 65 and older living alone, people 65 and older without internet access, and residents 65 and older per 100,000 people.”

 

Over the past decade, all states have seen their population-adjusted rate of older adults rise, while all but five have seen a reduction in the number of seniors living alone. There has been a decline in the percentage of seniors without access to the internet in all but 10 states, but in this area we were only able to compare the change since 2015 since data from a decade ago was not available. As a result, all states have probably seen an improvement in this rate since 2011.

 

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

“Each state’s rank across the individual metrics was averaged within their categories and those ranks were then added together. We used a formula that weighed physical health at 2.5 times its value, finances at 1.5 times its value, and the other two categories at their full value. As a result, the highest possible score a state could receive was 306.” the study reads.

 

To use nation-leading Washington as an example:

  • Physical health: 125 points
  • Mental health: 20.5 points
  • Finances: 62.3 points
  • Social factors: 41 points

Here are the best and the worst states for American seniors from zero to hero:

 

MachineHeadz/istockphoto

 

Overall score: 76.3

 

The “silver state” had the nation’s lowest score, ranking the second worst for physical health, in the bottom 15 for social factors and finances and in the middle of the pack for mental health.

 

trekandshoot / istockphoto

 

Overall score: 86.1

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 91.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  94.4

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 94.6

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 96.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 100.2

 

Sean Pavone/istockphoto

 

Overall score: 101.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 105.4

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  106.2

 

SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

 

Overall score: 119

 

Jacob Boomsma / iStock

 

Overall score: 120.2

 

Pixabay.com

 

Overall score: 122.1

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 122.8

 

ChrisBoswell / istockphoto

 

Overall score: 123

 

SeanPavonePhoto/ iStock

 

Overall score:  125.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  126

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 130.8

SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 132

 

fotoguy22 / iStock

 

Overall score: 135.3

 

benkrut / iStock

 

Overall score: 138.8

 

istockphoto

 

Overall score:  146.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 151.5

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 154.6

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  156.6

 

Matt Bills / iStock

 

Overall score:  158.7

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 164.3

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 167.3

 

istockphoto

 

Overall score: 169.4

 

DC_Colombia / iStock

 

Overall score: 169.7

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 170.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  172

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 173.3

 

Chilkoot/istockphoto

 

Overall score: 176

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 178.3

 

SeanPavonePhoto/ istockphoto

 

Overall score: 179.3

 

KGrif / iStock

 

Overall score: 185.1

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  185.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 188.3

 

Jacob Boomsma / istockphoto

 

Overall score:  188.7

 

depositphotos.com

 

Overall score:  189.5

 

travelview / iStock

 

Overall score: 193.1

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 200

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 204.3

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  205.2

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 211.2

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  213.6

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 228.2

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score: 228.8

 

lawrencetfay / iStock

 

Overall score: 246.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Overall score:  248.8

 

Scoring 248.8 Washington’s winning performance was driven by its strength across three of the four categories, ranking second in physical health and social factors and fifth in finances.

 

thyegn / istockphoto

 

While conditions may vary across different states for senior citizens, that does not mean they’d be the best landing spots for retirement. However, you can use this summary to help you make informed decisions about where older adults are most likely to face fewer barriers to good health of all types.

 

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Social Security Administration

 

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

 

Zinkevych/istockphoto

 

Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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