Questions and answers about TAFDC

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

TAFDC is "Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children." It is a monthly cash benefit. Some people call TAFDC "welfare.” The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) runs TAFDC in Massachusetts.

Can I get TAFDC?

The rules for getting TAFDC are complicated. In general, you must have little or no income. This chart on DTA's website lists how much income you can have and still get TAFDC.

You must:

  • be a parent living with your child, or 
  • be living with and taking care of a child you are related to, like your niece or grandchild, or
  • be at least 5 months pregnant.

You must live in Massachusetts.

Other important rules include:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen. If you cannot get TAFDC because of your immigration status, your children still might be able to.
  • You must meet DTA’s financial rules. There is no asset limit. 

Learn more in the TAFDC Advocacy Guide

How do I apply for TAFDC?

Everyone has the right to file an application for TAFDC. You may not be able to get benefits, but you have the right to apply. Do not take “No” for an answer. Ask to see a supervisor or the assistant director of the office if they will not let you apply.

You can apply:

If you have trouble with English, DTA should give you an interpreter. If you are hard of hearing, DTA should give you an interpreter. If you have trouble filling out an application, DTA must help you.

If you cannot get a specific proof document that DTA asks for, DTA must help you get it or let you use a different document as proof. 

 If you do not have your child's birth certificate, DTA must let you prove your child's age and relationship to you with another document. Something like a baptismal certificate, school record, day care record, newspaper article, hospital record, or a sworn statement from another person who knows you.

Make sure to save original papers. Only send DTA copies. For more information on how to apply, visit DTA’s website.

How much TAFDC will I get each month?

DTA must approve or deny your benefits within 30 days.

If you are approved, your TAFDC benefit amount is based on how many people are in your household. This chart on DTA’s website shows the highest amount of TAFDC you can get each month. Learn more in the TAFDC Advocacy Guide.

How long can I get TAFDC?

You can get 24 months of benefits every 5 years. If you are exempt from the 24 month time limit, there is no time limit for you.

You can get more than 24 months of TAFDC if you need it because of 

  • health problems, 
  • domestic violence, 
  • pregnancy, or 
  • some other reasons. 

If you need TAFDC for one of these reasons, you should be able to get it for as long as you need it. 

DTA should give some people an extension of the 24 month limit. Everyone has the right to ask for an extension. For example, DTA should give you an extension if you are in a training program 20 hours per week or working 35 or more hours per week.  

If your TAFDC stopped because of the 24 month time limit and 5 years has passed since you first started getting benefits, or if you become exempt from the 24 month time limit, you can get TAFDC again. 

Learn more about extension and exemptions in Getting TAFDC After Hitting the Time Limit.

Do I have to tell DTA about my child's other parent?

You have to give the DTA information about your child's other parent unless you have a good reason not to. You do not have to give DTA information about them if you can show you have "good cause" not to. For example, if you are a survivor of domestic violence. Learn more in TAFDC Child Support Rules.

What if DTA denies or stops my TAFDC benefits?

You have the right to get all decisions in writing. These include decisions denying, lowering or stopping your benefits.

You have the right to talk to a supervisor or assistant director if your worker doesn’t help you or you are not satisfied.

You can also call DTA Recipient Services helpline: 1-800-445-6604. TTY: 617-348-5599 or 1-888-448-7695.

You can appeal any decision you think is wrong. Ask for a "fair hearing." Learn more about appealing a DTA decision.

If I get TAFDC, are there other benefits?

Yes. You are eligible for MassHealth and SNAP.

Also, when you get TAFDC you can get more than just monthly money.

Relocation benefit

Up to $1,000 for moving into a new home after living in shelter for 60 days or more.

DTA does not give this money to you. You give DTA a signed paper from the moving company or landlord that says the amount due. DTA pays the company for you.

The relocation benefit will pay for things that help you get housing, like 

  • advance rent, 
  • security deposit, 
  • rent arrearage, 
  • utility arrearages, or 
  • deposit, storage, or moving expenses.

Crib and layette allowance

One-time payment of $300 for babies under 6 months old who are eligible for TAFDC.

Clothing allowance 

In September each year, you get an allowance for each TAFDC-eligible child in your household. In September 2023, the allowance was $450. If you are already on TAFDC, you do not have to apply. The allowance is automatic. Learn more about the clothing allowance. 

Funeral and burial costs

If a loved one dies, you may be able to get up to $1,100 for costs of $3,500 or less.

Transportation allowance

If you get TAFDC and are working or in a training program (have a Pathways to Work plan with DTA), you should get $80 each month as a transportation allowance.

Rent/mortgage allowance

If you pay for private unsubsidized housing, you should get $40 each month for a rent or mortgage allowance.

Moving out of state

Sometimes DTA can help pay moving costs if you need to move out of state.

Remember: if you move out of state, you should stop your TAFDC in Massachusetts.

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, you can also check with your domestic violence advocate to see if other money to move is available.

Health and childcare coverage after TAFDC

If you lose your TAFDC because your income goes up, you are still covered by MassHealth for another 12 months.  

You can still get childcare anytime within 24 months after your TAFDC case closes (based on your income going up) if you need care for work or school. After your free childcare runs out, you may be able to skip the waitlist and be “rolled over” to subsidized childcare.

Discounts to museums and cultural activities

Show your EBT card and get into museums and events free or at a discount through the "EBT Card to Culture" program. Find the list of over 100 activities on DTA's website.

Discount rates on utilities and telephone services

If you get TAFDC, you may be able to get discount rates on utilities if your utility company is “regulated.”  

Look at your bills to see if you are getting the discount rate. To apply for discount utility rates, call your gas and/or electric company and ask for an application from each company you get services from. Learn more on the state's website. 

You can also get a free phone from SafeLink Lifeline. If you are low-income, you may be able to get a discount on your internet from the Affordable Connectivity Program.

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