Senior Internet Service – Is there an Internet for Seniors plan?

Too many of America’s senior citizens have trouble paying their bills these days. Many have had their savings wiped out, others have seen their income decline sharply due to low interest rates, and some live on their social security payments and simply can’t keep up with rising expenses. Through no fault of their own, many seniors can’t afford even the most necessary of things, like a broadband internet connection. Yes, being connected to the internet is necessary in today’s world.

With all the new programs that provide inexpensive internet to low-income people, one would think there must be an internet program specifically designed to provide internet for seniors. But surprisingly, there are no such senior internet programs, not even an AARP Internet plan.

They government (the Federal Communications Commission) has “encouraged” Comcast to create the Internet Essentials broadband internet service for low-income Americans. It also “encouraged” Century Link to set up, Internet Basics, an internet service for students on free lunch programs. But, alas, nothing to provide internet for senior citizens.

Connect2Compete was created as a partnership of non-profit groups and private companies to help low income Americans cross the digital divide. But, alas, Connect2Compete offers no senior internet programs.

The government is in a pilot program that we’ve dubbed “Lifeline Internet” because it is similar to the Lifeline Assistance program, which helps low-income households get free cell phones and free minutes. But, that programs seems to have stalled.

We’ve developed this page because we have received so many emails from needy seniors asking why the government and various companies seemingly help everyone but them. Where is cheap internet for seniors? Why no senior internet programs?

Here’s our advice: While there is no cheap internet program designed specifically for them, it’s quite possible that many seniors may qualify for one of the existing programs. Check each program’s eligibility requirements to see if you qualify.

Let’s review them quickly:

Internet Basics: If you participate in any governmental assistance programs such as food stamps (SNAP), public housing assistance, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, Supplemental Security Income, various Home Energy Assistance Programs, National School Lunch and other programs, OR if your income is at or below 135-150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you may qualify. Follow the link for more information.

Internet Essentials: If there is a student in your house who participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), they many qualify for this program that provides $9.95/month high-speed internet and a computer for $150. Do you have a grandchild or even great grandchild living with you?

Connect2Compete: This has essentially the same eligibility criteria as Internet Essentials, above — a child on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

We hope that we will one day be able to replace this page with one that announces a new “cheap internet for seniors” package. We’ll keep you informed of anything that might be coming.

In the meantime, we encourage you to call your state and federal representatives, and even the cable and telephone companies themselves, to urge them to expand their cheap internet programs to include America’s needy seniors.

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Comments

  1. A Senior says

    Many countries offer very good free or discount programs for seniors. US is far behind that. Many countries respect seniors, but US does not. What good is AARP? They did not do enough for seniors! That’s why we never join it, even though they keep sending us offers all the time. In order to keep the senior brains working, one would think that offering free or low cost internet services will help these brains active and more up to date. It may very well prolong the onset or avoid age related problems and thus lower the cost of medical services.

  2. Harold Neville says

    I am a 57 year old man living on disability , a fixed income. I rely on the Internet to pay bills and communicate with the outside world and family. The price keeps going up and it won’t be long before I reach that point of not being able to afford it. HELP

  3. Harold Neville says

    I use the Internet to pay my bills and communicate with family and friend. It won’t be long before I will not be able to afford it. HELP

  4. Ann says

    I am a disabled 55 yr old
    woman who is in a wc.
    I used webtv for many years to keep connected w/ family and friends.
    Now that they will end service this month, I am looking for another low cost internet service.
    Does anyone know anything about “Smart TV?”

  5. claire says

    Please advise of any services ASAP. Outrageous ill due to Verizon whom I paid for 3 and 4G wireless connection for years without receiving good connection service and certainly not speed. They now switched me to a mi-fi because they could not get VZ Access Manager to work and I am being billed overages even though I am using it less than USB card, Need help fast. Using it for a healing program which is the only thing that is helping my condition.

  6. Sandra Cook says

    Delighted to see that a senior internet effort has been launched. I am a retired adult education teacher with no retirement benefits who continues to teach students to pass the GED and pursue careers. My instruction is delivered via Skype and PBS learning modules. Two days ago I had to cancel my internet because Time Warner raised my monthly internet only bill to $55. This is unconscionable! I returned my equipment
    And got a call to lower the bill to $30 a month. I told them I had secured a new service, FreedomPop, and volunteered my new cost. This is the only way I will be able to continue to follow my calling and research teaching methods and applications for my students. If we are to have a skilled workforce we need to provide the tools to all Americans to make goals nd achieve them. The Internet is a necessity in this quest.
    Sandra Cook
    GEDandbeyond@gmail.com

  7. jean williams says

    I am 66 years old and I live alone since my husband passed away 7 years ago. I rely on the internet to stay in touch with my family and I also pay my bills online.

  8. Oona says

    I’m in the same boat. Verizon was charging me $50 for phone & Internet now the want to raise it to $79. I am going to return their equipment next month but am in a quandry about what to do here in NYC.

  9. Babs says

    I was checking my options for cheap internet providers and saw your comments. I have my tv box packed up and ready to be returned so I was given the thought why not get rid of cable also? I cannot afford to pay the amount that I do just to have tv and internet idling in my home. I decided that I can go to the library and the senior center to pay my bills and that is what I am going to do. I say we start bombarding AARP with letters as to why they aren’t trying to help us low income seniors with this problem. I will be sending them a letter in a few days. Oona, I don’t know about NYC but do a search for discount high speed internet. I found providers for as low as $14.95 which I plan to give a try. Member or not let’s get those letters to AARP.

  10. Dennis Gerber says

    AARP dumped on us seniors in backing Obama Care. We were lied to when they said no reductions in Medicare Benefits, you can keep the doctor you have. They are right – they didn’t reduce the benefits – they just took out future payments for those benefits, to the tune of 700 million+. Let the doctors and hospitals figure out what they tell their Medicare patients (so they look like the bad guys) when the payments to them are drastically cut. I dumped on AARP and dropped my membership. You know that really has them shaking in their boots (a joke). I will still write them to see if there is an ounce of moral conviction left to help seniors get a decent discount on high-speed Internet. I need it, living alone with medical problems and trying to keep in touch with family, and they with me. The lowest plan on internet @ $14.95 strangled the speed so low you can not send videos or pictures or receive them unless you have a half a day to wait for the download. Comcast tricked the Government when they purchased NBC and were told they would have to provide a Internet service for the poor (which does not include us living on SS only) by offering a 1Mbs to 2Mbs service. In this day and age of technology – that barley qualifies as an Internet connection. I can’t afford $45 to $60 a month. We are being told the Social Security increase for 2014 is going to be less the 1.5% yet the cable fees have jumped more than 4.5% in a year. There is no way a senior on SS can keep up with that.
    As seniors on fixed income – no cable company wants to market to us – and apparently the FCC does not think we qualify as poor. There are 10,000 people a day becoming Medicare eligible and the biggest percentage is living on SS only. That would seem like a big enough market for some smart cable company to put together a “Senior Bundle” – that’s their favorite marketing – a bundle. Thankfully it appears that bundling is soon to lose its grip on the market as completion and technology improves. It would be nice to see some of the marketing people in cable get out of there closed offices, and try to come up with a Senior package.

  11. debra says

    I think it is terriable we in this country will not help our senior citizens more. they can’t afford to live anymore. my parents cannot afford tv, let alone the internet . i wanted to get them a caption phone and the only one that is decent is the one that needs the internet.

  12. Richard Brejtfus says

    Why is it that we can help other countrys but we cant help seniors with low cost internet services. Iam a Viet Nam Vetran on social security and with unafordiable internet service that i will half to drop due to budgeting. Help!

  13. MA YONGDE says

    I am 65 years old, I am retired early with a very low income. I need to get online to pay my monthly bills. I want to order cheap internet. Thank you

  14. Alan says

    I am inclined to believe about half you people are in the predicaments you claim you are in, because you are to lazy to do any research or anything for yourself on your own. You must have accsess to internet service to post here. If you cant find answers to these simple stupid questions, then the internet isnt going to help you.. I cant even spell or puncuate, google dose that for you, and can find anything, including free gov. phones. for Gods sake type in Reachout phones their free and if you want unlimited text and internet you just add $26.00 a month.

  15. says

    I am a widowed senior citizen 81 years old. I am
    interested internet service, as I can no longer afford
    services I have now. Please help me find a reliable,
    service for a reasonable price I can afford. I am way
    below the poverty line. Thanky you

  16. Ms M. says

    For 2 years I paid a Verizon Contract for LAPTOP BROADBAND EXCLUSIVELY $51 monthly. I am 71 years old and very low income on Soc. Security but I didn’t use any of the monthly 4GB broadband and it does not accumulate. I used FREE WIFI at MULTIPLE RESIDENCES for two years but you must have decent BROADBAND 4GB to use WIFI.

    My laptop is no longer hooked up to receive WIFI and I cannot afford $85 or MORE monthly LAPTOP ONLY HIGH BROADBAND USE FEES from VERIZON.

    I need UNLIMITED BROADBAND for a WINDOWS 7 LAPTOP Exclusively to continue online EMPLOYMENT CLASSES, DOWNLOADING MUSIC, EMAIL, PLAY DVDs and CDs, FACEBOOK GAMES etc.

    Have to move again and I am desperate for UNLIMITED BROADBAND to RESEARCH ACCOMODATIONS, MEDICAL AVAILABILITY, STORES before I can move.

    PLEASE REPLY.

  17. Theresa says

    WOW …! what has America come to? I remember I needed help for myself Irecieved food stamps for myself. They told me about free service for cell phone with free minutes. I was in a position with no support, family and friends when your not making your own money was zero . IT WAS HEART BREAKING .For the few months that I needed that help … I felt BLESSED !

  18. RH says

    I’m glad that I guess one option for others without children is available to “some”. I’m now 52, I’ve been severely disabled and housebound for 12 years now. I am living on SSI which is much less than those living on SS. I raised my 4 children and they are now building their families/lives and have moved from our small town. I’m divorced since 98 (large part of the reason I’m no longer able to walk, 18 years of bad marriage) I have caregivers that come and help me now everyday, that is humiliating. My only access with the outside world is the computer which due to long distance my large family (siblings, their families & our parents) and my children and now grandchildren keep in touch via email & share photos this way. Sadly with power and everything going up except SSI I’m finding it very difficult to keep up. I’ve never had a credit card to rely on and don’t intend on having it. I have power, computer, dropped phone, basic tv channels, garbage, water, sewer, food, housing and then the medical non covered. I’m afraid I’m going to have to drop intenet $39.99 and that’s going to kill me inside. I won’t hear from or be able to contact my loved ones. That’s the only time I do. And I look for free patterns to try and crochet things for gifts for them on good days. I’ve lost the ability to do all the other things I used to be able to do.

    Internet Basics, Centery Link is not offered in my area 97128. I checked 2 years ago and again now, same result. This is so depressing as I don’t know how much longer I can hang on. The power company is already sending shut off notices because I send $97 a month instead of the $138 a month flat rate budget amount they want. That is all I have period. I have nothing left for even an extra roll of toliet paper. I wish the people in Washington DC would live on what I live on for one month.

    If anyone knows of any internet options for Western Oregon please let me know. I already lost the local news of my community, can’t subscribe. So I feel like a stranger in my own town even though I don’t get out except with medical assistance to medical appointments and hospitalizations. I haven’t been home to see my parents in 13 years. This is the ONLY way I have to stay in touch with my family and with my children and now my grandchildren. Thank you. ~R

  19. M says

    I too am a senior searching for a low cost internet provider. I have been with AT&T for many years and in the past have been able to receive a reasonable discount on their DSL internet service. This discount was given through their “Retention Department” and would be valid for either a six month or twelve month period , after which the regular price would kick in and I would have to call them back and ask for a new rate As of July 2014 my internet bill increased from $14.95 per month (That was my discount price for the past year) to $36.00 per month. After talking to them they could only offer me a $5.00 per month discount. They did offer a lower price if I switched to their “U-Verse” plan, but after one year it would increase to a higher rate than the current DSL price of $36.00 per month. I don’t know what I will do. I have investigated other services such as “Freedom Pop”.. I just don’t know enough about “Data Usage” to understand how much I would need for my particular application.

    Bottom line, I am very disappointed that the government does not provide a low cost high speed internet service for seniors who need a little help (and also to low income families with or without children).

    The internet is fast becoming a necessity in this high tech world. It should be just as free as broadcast TV.

  20. Gaynell Kirk says

    Hello, I am a senior 69 yrs. old. My hubby is a sick man. We have a handicap daughter.
    We live on his SS and take care of her with her checks. It takes a lot of money to keep dr. bills paid and essentials. Between the slow internet I have and my old worn out laptop computer, I am ready to give it up. My older daughter is paying for dialup. I would not let her get high speed. She has a child and bills and I feel guilty her taking care of this. Wish I had a cheap broadband to use then maybe i could get my handicap daughter on the internet.
    Thanks, Gaynell Kirk

  21. John Rasdel says

    Hi I am 70 years old and Verizon has done the same to me my bill for Phone local only
    and internet lowest speed was 52.04. They took it upon themselves and disconnect me
    then re connect and now charge me 75.82 for the same thing.
    Thanks John

  22. Ron says

    I know exactly what you are saying. Verizon is doing the same thing to me now. I purchased a DSL (Freedom Essential) plan from them about three years ago. About two months after I purchased the plan they have been trying to squeeze me out of that plan and get me to purchase FIOS. It was to the point of harassment. Not only were they calling my house after hours, I could not call them for clarifications of a phone bill without my call turning into a sales pitch for FIOS. No matter how much I tried to explain to them that I do not need FIOS they never listened to me. Eventually, without my consent, they started taking away my Freedom Essential plan. I told them that I wanted to keep my Freedom Essential plan and I was told that I was not suppose to have it. I told them that my Freedom Essential plan was good until October of 2016 or 2018 (I am sure it was one of those years). They insist that I should not have Freedom Essential. It appeared as if they wanted me to terminate the plan instead of them terminating the plan for me. Freedom Essential was a good plan and I was completely satisfied with it. I believe verizon wanted me to terminate or agree to terminate my Freedom Essential plan so they will not be liable for any bleaches. I have been trying to maintain my Freedom Essential plan and rate, but they have constantly pushed to the point until I now have a Regional Essential plan. They have actually forced me out of my Freedom Essential plan into a plan that gives me what I do not need at a higher cost. The only thing I have now is in-state calls and high speed internet (DSL) up to 3 mbps for about $60.00 per month. Now that they have squeezed me out of my original plan (Freedom Essential) without my consent, I am afraid to see what my bill will be next year. From reading the messages on this site, there appears to be a group of people who’s needs are not being met or are being totally pushed aside.

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