Apply For Massachusetts TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for Massachusetts TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called Massachusetts Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), may help you become self-supportive while receiving monthly cash benefits to meet your everyday needs such as rent, utilities, clothes, transportation, or additional expenses.

Sometimes you may not be eligible to receive TANF for yourself, but a child or children in your household may. The TANF program is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance. In most cases, in order to qualify for TANF you must meet both types of eligibility, categorical and financial.

Additionally, to qualify for TANF there are work requirements. The MA TANF program requires most adults be employed or participate in certain work-related activities, which you will be assigned for a certain number of hours on a weekly basis in order to continue receiving TANF benefits.

The total number of hours needed to fulfill your work activity requirement depends on your family composition. Qualified state residents are required to produce information including household income, age, citizenship and resources.

Only household members who are eligible for Massachusetts TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for MA TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF Massachusetts.

Massachusetts TANF eligibility

TAFDC is for families with children under 18, including teen parents. If you're pregnant, you can apply for TAFDC for yourself if your child is due in less than 4 months. To get TAFDC a family must meet basic requirements:

  • Live in Massachusetts
  • Include a US citizen or person with certain legal non-citizen status
  • Meet income and asset limits

Massachusetts TANF income limits

To be eligible for TAFDC your family's gross income must not exceed the income limits based on your household size and the type of housing you live in. Gross income is the amount before taxes or other deductions. Income you don't usually get does not count toward the limit.

Don't include the income of family members who are SSI recipients or foster children, or include them in your household size. If your benefits have no time limit, your monthly gross income must not be more than:

Household size Public or subsidized housing Private housing
1 $388 $428
2 $491 $531
3 $593 $633
4 $691 $731
5 $792 $832
6 $896 $936
7 $997 $1,037
8 $1,097 $1,137
9 $1,197 $1,237
10 $1,298 $1,338
Each Add. +$105 +$105

If your benefits have a time limit, your monthly gross income must not be more than:

Household size Public or subsidized housing Private housing
1 $388 $428
2 $491 $531
3 $593 $633
4 $691 $731
5 $792 $832
6 $896 $936
7 $997 $1,037
8 $1,097 $1,137
9 $1,197 $1,237
10 $1,298 $1,338
Each Add. +$105 +$105

If you are a teen parent, the monthly gross income of your parent(s) you live with must not be more than:

Household size Income
1 $2,023
2 $2,743
3 $3,463
4 $4,183
5 $4,903
6 $5,623
7 $6,343
8 $7,063
9 $7,783
10 $8,503
Each Add. +$720

TANF deductions

A deduction is the amount of your income that doesn't count. If your income is from a job, deductions are allowed as follows:

  • $200
  • The cost of childcare (restrictions apply)

TANF asset limit

Your family's total assets generally cannot add up to more than $5,000. Assets are things of value like bank accounts and cars. If you own 1 car, $15,000 of its value does not count. If you give assets away to qualify for TAFDC, you are not eligible. Certain things, like the house your family lives in, do not count as assets.

TANF time limit

TAFDC rules set a time limit. You can get benefits for a total of 24­ months in a 5 year period. Each full calendar month you get benefits adds 1 month to your "clock". If you leave and then come back on TAFDC, the clock picks up where it left off. It does not reset within the 5 year period.

They will send you a letter updating you on your clock count when you use your 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 18th and 22nd month of TAFDC benefits. If at any time you disagree with the number of months we counted, you can ask for an adjustment.

If you use up your 24 months, you cannot get TAFDC just for your other family members. Their benefits stop too. You may be able to get TAFDC again when your 5 year period ends or if you ask for an extension.

What stops your clock?

Sometimes, a month in which you get TAFDC does not count toward your 24-month limit. Your monthly clock usually does not run if at any time during that month you are:

  • Disabled (with medical proof)
  • Caring for a disabled child, spouse, or co-parent, who you live within your 33rd week or later of pregnancy
  • Caring for a child who is under age 2
  • A teen parent
  • Not getting benefits for yourself and are not the parent of the child(ren) you get benefits for 60 years or older
  • Not getting TAFDC, or getting less than $10 in TAFDC for the month

The TAFDC 24-month time limit does not apply to your:

  • Childcare
  • MassHealth (health insurance)
  • SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits
  • Benefits that you got from another state
Asking for more time

You may be able to get more TAFDC benefits after your 24-month time limit expires if you ask for an extension. Once you use 22 months of benefits, your case manager will make an appointment with you so he or she can ask you if you need an extension and help you fill out the forms if you do. If you request an extension, you will continue to get TAFDC benefits until a decision is made. When making a decision about an extension, DTA looks at whether you:

  • Took part in work-related activities
  • Turned down job offers, cut your hours, or quit a job without a good reason
  • Got fired for a good reason
  • Followed DTA's rules
  • Have good jobs and child care in your area

If approved, your extension will probably be for no more than 2 or 3 months. There is no limit to the number of extensions you can ask for. You can always ask for an extension if you can't get TAFDC because of the time limit.

Apply for Massachusetts TANF

You can apply for TAFDC at your local Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) office. To find a location, view the list of DTA offices near you.

I was denied TANF benefits. What can I do?

State and local agencies are responsible for establishing the eligibility criteria and procedures that apply in their programs, not the Federal government. If you disagree with a decision regarding welfare benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. For more information about your state's appeals procedures, contact the MA TANF office.