Have you applied for food stamps, known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)? If not, see our SNAP explainer here.
Most people don’t realize that once you’ve applied and been deemed eligible for SNAP, there’s a host of additional resources that are available to you. Check out our list of government and private programs to see if you could benefit from one or more of these.
Lifeline Home or Cellphone & Internet Discounts
Lifeline is a federal government program that lowers the monthly cost of phone and internet service. (It’s funded by the taxes you normally pay on these services.) Lifeline gives you $9.25 off your monthly bill (up to $34.25 off monthly if you live on federally-recognized tribal lands). You can apply your Lifeline benefit to landline, mobile phone, or high-speed broadband service, but you can only use it on one service at a time.
Apply for Lifeline here. Once you’re approved, you then need to select a participating phone or internet service provider near you in order to receive the discount. If your current provider isn’t listed, you’d need to switch in order to take advantage of Lifeline.
Making the Most of Lifeline
You can find better broadband deals in our Affordable Internet list, below, than with Lifeline. We think the best way to take advantage of Lifeline is to use it for a mobile phone plan (that is, if you’re willing to switch carriers and devices).
Some cellphone providers such as Assurance Wireless sweeten the Lifeline deal and offer a free Android phone + 350 free voice minutes per month + unlimited free texts + 3GB free data per month. If you don’t have SNAP, Assurance will temporarily use your Unemployment Benefit Letter as proof of income (through 11/30/20 only).
Affordable Home Internet & WiFi
The following Internet Service Providers offer bargain prices on broadband service to recipients of SNAP and some other federal programs. Typically, these deals aren’t available to current customers, meaning you’d have to switch providers to get a deal. But these prices may make it worth the trouble:
- AT&T offers high-speed internet for $10/month or less, with free installation, in-home WiFi, no contract, and no deposit (deal available for a limited time only).
- Comcast offers high-speed internet with in-home WiFi, no contract, and no credit check for $10/month, plus two free months (sign up before December 31, 2020).
- Cox offers discounted internet with home WiFi for $10/month + first two free months, plus free remote desktop/phone support and discounted, refurbished computers (sign up by September 30, 2020 to get this deal).
If these providers don’t service your area, check EveryoneOn.org for more offerings.
Free Career Training
The Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a federally-funded program that pays tuition, books, and supplies for short-term career-oriented training. Earn a computer coding certificate or become a dental hygenist, medical assistant, welder, HVAC installer, registered nurse, and more! Grants cover up to $10,000/year for a maximum of two years.
There are generally two ways to qualify for WIOA grants: be a Dislocated Worker unlikely to return to your prior field, or be considered Low Income. If you have SNAP, you automatically qualify for the Low Income program. Find your local Career Source office to apply.
Cut Your Cable Costs with Amazon Prime Discounted Membership
This is a tricky one: if you already have a full-price Amazon Prime membership, we really don’t recommend you keep it. The reason? Studies show that a Prime membership can make it easy to spend too much; Prime members spend an average of $800/year more than non-Prime members–and that’s on top of the annual $119 membership fee. When you’re unemployed, these extra expenses really can’t be justified.
There’s one exception, we think, but only if you can resist the Buy It Now button: Amazon’s discounted Prime membership for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and Medicaid card holders. Amazon offers these card holders a Prime membership for $5.99/month.
Why do we think that’s worth it? Because you can cut your cable–the average bill is $85.00/month–and get access to movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video instead. Add your local stations by hooking up a basic antenna, and you’ve just saved $79/month. In Miami, Tampa Bay, and West Palm Beach, forgo the antenna and stream your local stations through Locast for an additional $5/month, and you’ve still saved $74/month.
The discounted Amazon membership also gives you access to thousands of free Kindle books (which you can read on the free Kindle app for iOS, Android, Mac, or PC), and over 1 million songs you can stream for free.
And of course, you can buy eligible groceries with your EBT card, which is what Amazon hopes you’ll do, thanks to a U.S. FDA online-purchasing pilot project that started April 21, 2020. Delivery is free with your Prime membership. But we don’t really recommend buying your groceries at Amazon; their prices tend to be higher than local stores. The free delivery may be worth it if you’re stuck at home because of COVID-19; just don’t make it a habit. A better strategy is to buy groceries with your EBT card online at Wal-Mart (also part of the pilot project) and use the curbside pickup option.
The fine print:
SNAP benefits come on EBT cards, as does Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and Women, Infants & Children (WIC). You may receive unemployment benefits on a Way2Go debit MasterCard, but this is not considered an EBT card.
You can’t pay the monthly Prime membership with your EBT card; you can only use it to pay for eligible groceries.
We extremely conscientious about linking to only the highest quality resources that can truly be useful to our audience. We are an Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small payment if you make a purchase through our Amazon link. This small commission does not increase your price in any way. Any payments we receive are used to defray the cost of running this website and all excess payments are donated to programs benefiting the unemployed in Florida.