- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taxpayers spent an estimated $2.2 billion to give phones to those with low incomes in 2012 — but some shouldn’t have received them. According to one report, a large number of program participants may have received phones even though they didn’t meet income limits.

The government’s Lifeline telephone provision program started in 1984 but has grown substantially, from $819 million in payouts in 2008 to more than $2 billion in 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Federal Communications Commission tightened eligibility rules and proof of income requirements in 2012, and in the subsequent months, service carriers have reported a large number of program dropouts.

In short, 41 percent of 6 million program participants didn’t meet eligibility requirements or ignored requests for documents needed to determine eligibility, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The cost of the program per U.S. household, meanwhile, is about $2.50 a month, according to the Journal.