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

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

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. § 204.210(D)(1)(a).

Your income is also counted in figuring your children’s eligibility if you are a parent who is an ineligible non-citizen who cannot be in the assistance unit or has chosen not to apply. See If you are not a citizen and Who has a choice to be in the assistance unit?. 106 C.M.R. § 204.330. See also DTA Transitions, June 2003, p. 2.

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

  • $200 a month from earned income,
  • support payments paid to people outside the TAFDC unit, and
  • the Need Standard (see How much will you get each month?) for the stepparent or ineligible parent and any dependents living with him or her who are not included in the TAFDC unit. 106 C.M.R. § 204.235(A).


Sonia Novik is a lawful permanent resident who got her status two years ago and does not meet non-citizen eligibility requirements. She has two children ages two and three who are citizens. She earns $700 a month. She pays rent. DTA will subtract $200 a month for work expenses and the Non-Exempt Monthly Need Standard for one person of $418 a month (with the rent allowance). DTA will count $82 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 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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