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How does DTA treat assets you no longer have?

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Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2017

If you spent, gave away or otherwise transferred any money or property during the year before you applied for TAFDC, DTA may say you are not eligible. DTA should not disqualify you if

  • at the time of the transfer you thought you had enough left to live on for a year after the transfer,
  • you spent the money on
    • shelter, fuel, utilities, or food (up to the need standard for your family size), and/or
    • necessary medical expenses (including health insurance premiums),
  • you spent the money on transportation costs (less than $150/month), replacement or purchase of basic household furniture or appliances, repairing your dwelling, court-ordered judgments, certain government obligations like taxes, or a prepaid funeral arrangement and burial plot,
  • you spent the money on expenses related to your work or education,
  • you spent the money on something that is not an “extraordinary expense” (something you would not normally buy) and the amount you spent was less than 25% of your average monthly income (based on the previous six months of your income),
  • you or the person who made the transfer was legally incompetent or coerced, or
  • the transfer was the result of a court action. 106 C.M.R. § 204.135.

Advocacy Reminders

  • DTA should only count the amount of money you spent or transferred that exceeds the $2,500 TAFDC asset limit (in combination with the other countable assets you had at the time).
  • An irregular expense is not necessarily “extraordinary.” For example, one-time moving expenses are not extraordinary.
  • DTA may try to apply the transfer of assets rule to recipients whose assets go over the $2,500 limit. See DTA Operations Memo 2014-57 (Oct. 10, 2014). This may be illegal. Check with an advocate if this happens to you.
  • The transfer of assets rule is often very unfair and may be illegal. Check with an advocate for legal help if DTA says you are not eligible because of the transfer of assets rule.

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