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What if you have a criminal history?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

You are not eligible for TAFDC benefits for yourself if

for exemptions from the time limit) and you were not granted a domestic violence waiver (see Can you get a waiver or good cause exception to welfare rules because of domestic violence? 106 C.M.R. § 701.110 (B); DTA Operations Memos 2013-37 (July 26, 2013); 2012-30 (June 20, 2012).

Other criminal history or activities that do not fall within these dates and conditions should not disqualify you from benefits.

If you get a notice from DTA that your TAFDC has been denied or reduced because of one of these situations, contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, immediately. You have a right to appeal the denial or reduction. See Appeal Rights.

Advocacy Reminders

  • You cannot be denied SNAP (food stamps) because of a drug felony conviction.
  • If you are facing drug-related criminal charges, make sure your defense lawyer knows about this rule and how a felony conviction could affect your benefits.
  • The rest of your family should remain eligible for benefits if you are disqualified under these rules. What happens if you are excluded from the assistance unit? explains how your income should be counted in figuring your family’s eligibility.
  • A DTA hearing officer has ruled that a person who left another state to start a new life is not ineligible as a fleeing felon where the person was not trying to avoid punishment or prosecution.

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