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Cash Assistance

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2019

Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC )

You may be able to get TAFDC if you have a child or you are at least 5 months pregnant. TAFDC, or "welfare", can give you:

  • Cash every month
  • MassHealth health insurance
  • $350 clothing allowance for each child in September
  • Crib and layette allowance for newborn babies on the grant
  • Access to education and training programs
  • Child care and transportation payments if you are working or going to certain kinds of school or training programs; and
  • "Relocation money" if you are moving out of a shelter.  This can help with first month's rent and deposit.
  • Money for a transportation allowance if you  are in an Employment Services Program.
  • Monthly money for rent or your mortgage if you live in private unsubsidized housing.
  • Help even after you stop getting benefits.  If you lose your TAFDC because your income increases, your MassHealth coverage continues for another 12 months, and you are still eligible for childcare.
  • Discounted utility rates, if the utility is regulated. 
  • Burial costs if a loved one passes.

You can apply for TAFDC at your local Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) office. You can read more about TAFDC for survivors of Domestic Violence. See Applying to DTA for information about applying for TAFDC. See Appealing denials for information about what to do if you apply and DTA tells you that you cannot get benefits.

Learn more about the $350 clothing allowance in the Income and Benefits section of MassLegalHelp.

Learn more about education and training programs in the Income and Benefits section of MassLegalHelp.

Learn more about school or training programs in the Income and Benefits section of MassLegalHelp.

Emergency Aid for the Elderly, Disabled and Children's Program (EAEDC)

You may be able to get EAEDC if you are:

  • disabled (serious emotional scars from domestic violence are sometimes a disability or
  • a person caring for a disabled person; or
  • 65 years old, or older; or
  • in a Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission program.
  • Also, some children who cannot get TAFDC can get EAEDC.

The rules for EAEDC are better for non-citizens than the rules for TAFDC and SSI. You may be able to get EAEDC even if you are not able to get TAFDC or SSI because of your immigration status.

EAEDC pays you cash every month, but not as much as TAFDC pays. EAEDC comes with MassHealth health insurance. See the chart of EAEDC payment amounts in the Income and Benefits section of MassLegalHelp.

You can apply for EAEDC at your local DTA office.

Learn more about EAEDC in the Income and Beneftis section of MassLegalHelp. 

Unemployment Insurance

You may be able to get Unemployment benefits if you lost your job because of domestic violence. Some examples of how living with domestic violence might be reasons you lost your job are:

  • if you were fired for too many absences and you were absent because of domestic violence,
  • or if you were forced to quit because you were fleeing domestic violence, or
  • you were forced to quit because your abuser was bothering you at work or made you stop working, or
  • if you had to quit because your abuser was looking after your child and you had no child care when you left him.

Unemployment insurance pays cash benefits for up to 30 weeks. It also pays for some kinds of training. If you are in an approved training program, you may be able to get benefits for an extra 18 weeks (48 weeks total, or almost a year).

To apply, call the TeleClaim Center.

  • If you are calling from the area codes: 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978, call 1-877-626-6800;
  • If you are calling from any other area code, call the TeleClaim Center at 617-626-6800;."
  • TTY/TTD: 1-888-527-1912.

Learn more about Unemployment Insurance for Survivors of Domestic Violence.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you are disabled (Serious emotional scars from domestic violence are sometimes a disability.), blind or over 65, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Some people can apply for both programs. Both programs pay cash every month, and they pay more than TAFDC or EAEDC.

SSDI is for people who are:

  • blind,
  • over 65 or who have" disabilities, and
  • have enough work history to qualify for the program. The amount of your payment depends on how much you have worked (and paid into Social Security).

SSI is also for people who are

  • blind,
  • over 65, or who have disabilities, but
  • do not have enough work history to qualify for SSDI and
  • who have very little savings or income.

If you get SSI you will also get MassHealth at the same time. 

If your child is disabled and your family is low-income, your child may be able to get SSI benefits.

You or your child also may be able to get "dependent Social Security benefits". These are monthly cash payments. You may be able to get this money if your spouse or your parent earned enough wages and is now retired, disabled or has died. Your child may be able to get this money if your child"s other parent earned enough wages and is now retired, disabled or has died.

There is a chart in the Income and Benefits section of MassLegalHelp with SSI payment amounts.

You can apply for SSDI and SSI at your local Social Security office. You can also start your application by calling 1-800-772-1213. It can take months for the Social Security office to process your Social Security or SSI application, so apply as soon as possible. Most people apply for EAEDC or TAFDC at their local Department of Transitional Assistance office while they are waiting for Social Security or SSI. If you get SSI, your children can still get TAFDC.

Veterans Benefits

State and federal veterans benefits pay cash. State Veterans Services benefits are based on military service and income level. These benefits are for people who have low incomes. The benefits include medical coverage and some emergency benefits. You may be able to get state or federal veterans benefits if you or someone in your family is a veteran. If you or your child has a parent who is a veteran, or if your child is a veteran, or if you are the spouse of a veteran (even if you are separated), you may be able to get these benefits as a dependent. Call your local city or town hall to find out where you can apply.

"Flex Funds" from a domestic violence program

Domestic violence programs have access to "Flex funds." They can use this money to help you get on your feet." Flex funds are not regular cash payments."" They can be used to help you in an emergency, when you don"t have the cash. You can use this money to help pay for things like:

  • first month"s rent on a new place,
  • some back rent to help you keep your old place,
  • child care while you look for work or go to work, or
  • transportation to and from work."

Flex funds are usually one time grants. Jane Doe, Inc., is the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.  You can find a domestic violence program by visiting Jane Doe, Inc's website

Victims of Violent Crime Compensation

Victims Compensation pays up to $25,000 for some losses related to violent crime, including domestic violence." You may be able to get money from the fund for:

  • medical and dental expenses (including equipment, supplies and medications),
  • counseling expenses (for victims and for children who witness domestic violence)
  • lost wages (for victims only)
  • homemaker expenses, and
  • funeral/burial costs up to $4,000.

The fund does not pay for: property losses, compensation for pain and suffering, and all other losses.

To get Victims Compensation for domestic violence:

  • The domestic violence must have happened in Massachusetts;
  • You must have reported the domestic violence to the police within five days, unless you had a good reason for waiting longer;
  • You must cooperate with the police and prosecutor, unless you have a good reason not to; and
  • You must apply for compensation within three years of the domestic violence that you reported to the police.

To apply, fill out an Application For Crime Victim Compensation in Massachusetts on the Attorney General's website.

Mail the application to:

Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley
Victim Compensation & Assistance Division
One Ashburton Place, 19th floor
Boston, MA 02108-1698
(617) 727-2200
(617) 742-6262 fax

In general, you will receive a decision 4 to 6 months later. Your claim can be reopened for future expenses.

Who to call for help

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