Basic EAEDC Rights (state disability and caretaker benefits)

Reviewed June, 2009

1. What is EAEDC?

EAEDC stands for "Emergency Assistance to Elderly, Disabled and Children." It is a cash benefit.

You apply for EAEDC in person at the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

Most people who get EAEDC can also get MassHealth Basic and SNAP/Food Stamps.

2. Who can get EAEDC?

To get EAEDC you must:

  1. live in Massachusetts, 
  2. be a US citizen or have legal immigration status, and
  3. have a low income and few assets.


Also, some children who can not get TAFDC may be able to get EAEDC. This includes children you care for, but who are not related to you.

  • You must get legal guardianship or custody of the children you are caring for within 6 months of receiving EAEDC.

3. How disabled do I have to be to get benefits?

To get EAEDC based on a disability:

1. You must have at least one physical or mental health problem that lasts at least 60 days. 

2. You must have trouble supporting yourself through work.

3. The EAEDC disability standard is not as strict as SSI. Your disability does not have to be as severe and you do not need to show it will last 12 months or more.

When you apply, be sure your worker gives you an EAEDC Medical Report form to take to your doctor, a Disability Supplement for you to fill out, and a Temporary MassHealth Card to pay for your medical visits and any tests you need.

If you need help finding a doctor, getting an appointment, filling out the forms, or getting an interpreter for the appointment, tell your DTA worker. The worker must help you, if you ask.

4. Can I get EAEDC if I have a substance abuse disability?

You cannot get EAEDC based on a substance abuse disability alone. But if you have a mental or physical health problem related to the substance abuse, you may be able to get benefits. The rules for EAEDC are not the same as for SSI.

5. How much EAEDC benefits will I get?

To get EAEDC, your countable monthly income has to be less than the grant level for your family size.

Sample Amount Max benefit you can get (Monthly)
Single person (with shelter costs) $303.70
Each person in a married couple $202.50
Homeless person $92.80
Person in a rest home $72.80

The grant amounts are lower if you live with another person who gets benefits, or if you are homeless. If you have any income that is not from a job, this money will be deducted dollar for dollar from your grant. If you have earned income from a current job, most of it will count against your grant. You can take some deductions.

Some income does not count, including:

  • housing subsidies, fuel assistance,
  • most gifts, and
  • the income of anyone that lives with you, if you are not married. Your spouse's income may count if it is more than $202.50 a month.

EAEDC can pay for your rest home if you cannot afford the monthly rate. You keep $72.80 for your personal needs, and pay the rest of your income to the rest home. If the rest home still needs money, EAEDC will pay the rest.

6. Can I get EAEDC if I have money in the bank or I own a house or a car?

You can have money or property worth up to $250, or up to $500 if you are a couple or a family. Some things are not counted: the home you live in, your furniture, appliances, and personal items.

There are special rules for counting cars. Your car counts if it has an equity value of over $1,500. Call Legal Services if you have questions.

7. Will I get health care if I'm on EAEDC?

You will get a MassHealth card. MassHealth covers most health services you may need, such as doctor visits and prescription drugs. If you are an immigrant, different rules may apply.

8. I'm not a citizen. Can I still get EAEDC?

If you are living in the U.S. with an immigration status, you may be able to get EAEDC. You may be able to get EAEDC if you are:

  • a legal permanent resident,
  • a refugee or an asylee,
  • a Cuban/Haitian immigrant, 
  • a parolee; or
  • if you are "permanently residing under color of law" (PRUCOL), or if immigration officials are aware that you are in the U.S. and do not intend to deport you.

You will need to show DTA proof of your immigration status. This can be a copy of any document you have. If you do not have any document, you can use a letter written by your lawyer or a copy of a receipt.

Income from your immigration sponsor is not counted. You also do not have to be in the U.S. with an immigration status 5 years before you can get EAEDC. Some immigrants who are not eligible for TAFDC may be eligible for EAEDC.

But do not go to INS without talking to a lawyer first. In some cases, getting EAEDC or other welfare benefits may hurt your immigration case.

9. How do I apply for EAEDC?

You can apply at your local DTA office. Be sure to sign an application the first time you go into the DTA office. The date you sign will be the date your benefits begin.

Your DTA worker will give you a list of proofs to bring back. If you don't have everything, bring what you have and ask your welfare worker for help. Your worker has to help you.

10. What are the time limits for getting proofs to DTA?

You have 22 days to get all the proofs back from the day you sign an application.

  • If you need more time, you have the right to "extensions." Tell your worker if you need more time, and be sure to ask the worker for help.
  • If DTA denies your EAEDC application, you can still get benefits if you give them the proofs they need within 30 days of the denial. You should get benefits back to the date of your application. You do not need to reapply.

11. If DTA stops or denies my EAEDC benefits, can I appeal this?

YES. If DTA decides to deny you or stop your benefits, you will get a written notice. If you disagree, you can file an appeal. This means that you request a fair hearing.

You have 90 days from the date on the notice to file an appeal.  If you are already getting EAEDC, be sure to file your appeal within 10 days of the date on the notice in order to keep getting them while you wait for your hearing.

The Appeal form is on the back of the notice. Fill it out and fax it, or a letter requesting a hearing, to the Division of Hearings at (617) 348-5311. You can also mail it to:

Division of Hearings, DTA
P.O. Box 4017
Taunton, MA 02780-9805 

Keep a copy of the appeal, and call the Division of Hearings at (617) 348-5321 or 1-800-882-2017 to make sure that they got it. 

You also have the right to ask for a hearing if your worker threatens you, does not follow the rules, violates your privacy or does not treat you with dignity and respect.

You can bring a friend, family member, advocate or lawyer to help you at a hearing or any other business you have with the Department. Contact Legal Services right away to ask for help with your appeal.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Helpful links

We can not guarantee that websites outside of MassLegalHelp are up to date.

Cash Assistance Programs Information about EAEDC, TAFDC, SSI, and Veterans' Services at

Food Pantries and Food Banks Call Project Bread's Food Source Hotline, 1-800-645-8333

Food-related Benefits Programs

Information at about how to get SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC and other programs that can help you get food.

2013 Income limits and benefit amounts


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