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What income is not counted?


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

DTA looks at total monthly income to decide eligibility, but not all income counts. 106 C.M.R. § 704.250.

The following items do not count as income:

  • income of any SSI recipients in the family, including child support received for a child receiving SSI,
  • foster care payments you receive for a foster child,
  • SNAP benefits (food stamps),
  • adoption assistance payments you receive for an adopted child,
  • federal and state earned income and child tax credits and tax refunds,
  • higher education (college level) grants, loans and work study, including grants from private organizations, DTA Online Guide (Educational Income)
  • up to $7,500 in relocation payments received by a tenant to leave a foreclosed property plus additional amounts you can verify are being used for relocation expenses, DTA Transitions, Jan. 2008, p. 7,
  • any loan that cannot be used to meet current living expenses,
  • payments from a reverse mortgage (loan that allows homeowner to withdraw equity from property), see DTA Transitions, Apr. 2007, pp. 4-5,
  • training stipends up to $130 per month,
  • reimbursements for training expenses,
  • Youthbuild or Americorps earnings or payments to participants,
  • earnings of a child under 16,
  • earnings of a child who is a full-time student working part-time), see DTA Online Guide (Noncountable Income – TAFDC);
  • certain restricted cash gifts from persons who are not financially responsible for anyone in the TAFDC household (see Do gifts count as income?),
  • the first $50 a month in child support,
  • housing subsidies received under any Massachusetts or federal housing program,
  • assistance from social service or other organizations, and
  • payments from a guaranteed income program, depending on the program. DTA Online Guide (Universal Basic Income Pilots).

This is not a complete list of noncountable income. The regulations describe over 30 types of noncountable income. Check the regulations for a more complete list. 106 C.M.R. § 704.250.

Advocacy Reminders

  • DTA has discretion to make additional types of income noncountable. For example, DTA decided that certain payments to participate in a study were not countable. DTA Online Guide (Trust and Investment Collaborative (TIC). Advocates can work with DTA to expand the list of noncountable income sources.
  • DTA sometimes counts the earned income of children under age 18 who are not full-time students working part-time. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, for help.
  • Some employees get “credits” that can be used to pay for benefits such as health insurance, child care, or life insurance. The “credits” may show up on your pay stub as income, but they are not counted for TAFDC or SNAP (food stamps) unless you have the option of taking the credits as cash. See DTA Transitions, Jan. 2006, p. 7 and Feb. 2006, p. 3.
  • Payments from a publicly supported employment program, such as the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, are usually not counted for TAFDC or SNAP. This includes some programs that provide summer employment for youth as well as other programs. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if DTA is counting payments from a publicly supported employment program in case the payment should not be counted.

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