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How much will you get each month?


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

This is how DTA figures your grant amount once you qualify as an applicant and get in the front door. See How much will you get each month?

Step One: Figure your countable earned income –

Start with your monthly gross earned income and deduct in the following order

  • The 100% earned income disregard if you are eligible for it, see What is the 6-month 100% earned income disregard?, or
  • The following deductions if you are not eligible for the 100% earned income disregard:
  • $200 for work expenses. This is a flat amount regardless of how much your work expenses really are.
  • One-half of what is left after the $200 work expense deduction.
  • Dependent care costs. Deduct actual dependent care costs (including costs of transportation to and from child care) up to DTA’s maximum based on the age of the dependent and the number of hours you work. 106 C.M.R. § 704.275. See How much income can you have and still qualify for TAFDC?.

What is left after these deductions is your countable earned income.

Step Two: Then figure your countable unearned income –

What is left after these deductions and additions is your countable unearned income.

Step Three: Then figure your total countable income –

  • Add countable earned and unearned income.
  • Subtract your total monthly countable income from the Payment Standard for your family size. See below.
  • Use the Standard with the rent allowance if you live in private, unsubsidized housing.
  • Use the lower standard without the rent allowance if you do not pay rent, you live in a teen parent living program, or you live in public or subsidized housing and the rent of at least one of the occupants is based on a percentage of income. 106 C.M.R. § 705.910.
  • The result is your monthly grant. See 106 C.M.R. § 704.500.

In September, add $400 for the clothing allowance for each eligible child to the Payment Standard before subtracting your countable monthly income. Even if the result is less than the clothing allowance, you are still eligible for the full clothing allowance for each child.

TAFDC Monthly Payment Standards
Assistance unit size No rent allowance
(no rent, or public or subsidized housing)
With rent allowance (private, unsubsidized housing)
1 $ 513 $ 553
2 648 688
3 783 823
4 912 952
5 1,045 1,085
6 1,183 1,223
7 1,316 1,356
8 1,316 1,356
9 1,448 1,488
10 1,714 1,754
Increment 139 139
Important Note: The Payment Standards go up in September by the amount of the clothing allowance for each eligible child ($400 in September 2022).


Advocacy Reminders:

  • DTA may deny you the $200 work expense deduction, the 50% or 100% earned income disregards, and the dependent care deduction if you left a job without good cause, did not report your earned income on time, or you are under sanction or otherwise excluded from the assistance unit. 106 C.M.R. §§ 704.270(B), 704.275, 704.281(C). This may not be legal. Email [email protected] if DTA denies you the work deductions and disregards for any of these reasons.
  • The assistance unit does not include SSI recipients or foster children. Do not count their income and do not include them in the assistance unit size. See Who cannot be in the assistance unit?
  • DTA should not ask you for verification that you pay for private, unsubsidized housing unless the amount you report raises questions. DTA Operations Memo 2011-21 (June 29, 2011).
  • Some programs, such as tax credit programs, subsidize owners, not tenants. Unless you are in a teen living program, DTA rules do not consider you to be living in subsidized housing unless the rent is a based in whole or part on a percentage of a tenant’s income. See DTA Transitions, Apr. 2001, p. 5.
  • You can get the rent allowance if your mortgage is paid off as long as you verify other housing expenses such as property taxes, condo fees or home insurance. DTA Online Guide (Rent Allowance Chart).

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