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How does DTA count income of a stepparent or ineligible non-citizen parent?


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

Your income is counted in figuring your stepchildren’s eligibility if you are a stepparent and the child’s natural or adoptive parent is also in the home. This is true even though you have not adopted your stepchildren and do not have a legal responsibility to support them. 106 C.M.R. § 704.210(D)(1)(a).

Your income is also counted in figuring your children’s eligibility if you are a parent who is an ineligible noncitizen who cannot be in the assistance unit or has chosen not to apply. See What if you are not a citizen? and Who has a choice about whether to be in the assistance unit?

106 C.M.R. § 704.330. See also DTA Transitions, June 2003, p. 2.

Income of a stepparent or ineligible noncitizen parent who lives with a dependent child is counted after deducting


Sonia Novik is a lawful permanent resident who got her status two years ago and does not meet noncitizen eligibility requirements. She has two children who are citizens. She earns $800 a month. She pays rent. DTA will subtract $200 a month for work expenses and the Monthly Need Standard for one person of $506 a month (with the rent allowance). DTA will count $94 against a two-person grant for the children.

Advocacy Reminders

  • There is no stepparent deeming to the child of a teen parent. For example, a 16-year-old with a baby who lives with her mom and her mom’s husband should not have her mom’s husband’s income deemed unless her mom is also part of the assistance unit.
  • There is no stepparent deeming where the stepparent is the primary caretaker for the child, the natural or adoptive parent is not in the home, and the stepparent is not on the grant. In this situation, the stepparent is treated like any other non-parent relative who is not receiving assistance for herself. See Who has a choice about whether to be in the assistance unit? See DTA Transitions, Oct. 2004, p. 4.
  • There is no stepparent deeming for MassHealth, but stepparent income is counted if the stepparent is the applicant for her or his spouse or child.

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