For this reason, a great deal of state resources have been in place to benefit the state’s most disadvantaged residents.
This is in line with the government’s effort to both fund and directly serve low-income families with children.
From cash benefits to food and medical assistance, Massachusetts ensures that no single mother is left behind in times of need.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is for people who work and meet certain income guidelines. You may get money back when you file your taxes and keep more of what you earned.
The Massachusetts EITC operates under the same eligibility rules as the federal EITC. For taxable years starting after January 1, 2019, the Massachusetts credit is limited to 30% of the federal credit.
For example, if you’re eligible to receive $3,300 from the federal government, the state will send you another $990. The current maximum value of the Massachusetts EITC will be $1,967. 2
In Massachusetts, getting the federal EITC and the state EICT will not affect your eligibility for TAFDC, SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, or low-income housing.
The Massachusetts Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program provides temporary cash assistance to families with children and pregnant women with little or no assets or income.
As a condition of eligibility for TAFDC, participants may be required to perform a work-related activity in order to receive benefit. Recipients are limited to 24 months of assistance only.
To apply for TAFDC, please contact your local Transitional Assistance Office. If you are not sure which office to contact, please call the Application Information Hotline at 1-800-249-2007.
SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) helps low-income people and families in Massachusetts with cash assistance to buy a month’s worth of healthy food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet.
The amount of SNAP benefits you get depends on your household size, income, and expenses. The average monthly food stamps benefit in Massachusetts is about $349 per household with children.
In Massachusetts, SNAP households are automatically eligible for discount rates on their utility bills and telephone services.
Call 1-866-950-FOOD (3663) for additional details.
Massachusetts HIP will match your SNAP purchases of local fruits and vegetables at participating HIP retailers 3 — and have an equal amount of money, up to your monthly limit, instantly added back to your EBT card.
For example, if you buy a head of broccoli at a farm stand for $3, another $3 will automatically be added to your account and can be spent on any future SNAP eligible purchase.
Depending on household size, monthly incentives can range from $40 to $80. Launched in April 1, 2017, HIP will be in effect statewide through 2020.
The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, nutrition education and referrals to health care, at no cost, to Massachusetts families who qualify. It is a short-term program with recipients usually receiving benefits from 6 months to a year.
The program covers pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are determined to be “at nutritional risk”.
The Massachusetts WIC Program provides a smart phone application known as “WIC Shopper” for WIC participants to make the shopping experience as smooth as possible for both the WIC customer and the retailer.
Many Massachusetts communities have diaper banks or other free diaper programs. Families may receive up to 30 disposable diapers per month per child, but benefits may vary depending on where you live.
To apply for free diapers, you should either contact the diaper program directly, or contact the WIC office or other family service agency that distributes diapers for your local diaper bank.
In Massachusetts, Medicaid and SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) are combined into one program called MassHealth — a public need-based health insurance program for low income residents in Massachusetts.
As Massachusetts is expanding Medicaid coverage, MassHealth is now available to all adults age 19-64 with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level.
Massachusetts is operating a State-Based Marketplace, known as Massachusetts Health Connector — through which you can apply for MassHealth or other health insurance.
Massachusetts DTA Child Care
In Massachusetts, child care assistance is provided through DTA Child Care that provides free or low-cost child care for TAFDC families, both current and former.
Current TAFDC recipients who qualify get first priority for child care. While former TAFDC recipients get child care right away, but may have to pay a fee based on income and family size.
You must apply at your local Department of Transitional Assistance office. Talk to your TAFDC case worker or call 1-800-249-2007 for more information on how to apply.
Low-income non-TAFDC working families who need help paying for child care may apply for Income-eligible Child Care. This program is limited to families with incomes not exceeding 50% of the state median income (SMI).
To apply, call your local child care resource and referral agency (CCR&R) or call Mass 211 (dial 2-1-1) to have your name put on a statewide centralized waiting list.
Head Start and Early Head Start are free early childhood programs for pregnant women and for children from birth to age 5. Both programs are for families with limited incomes.
It offers center-based family child care, and home visiting options on a part-day, part-year, or full-time basis. Children 3 to 4 years of age are eligible to participate with priority given to 4 years old.
If you need help determining if your child is eligible, call Head Start at 1-866-763-6481 to find a program in your community.
LIHEAP, commonly referred to as fuel assistance, helps low-income families and individuals in Massachusetts pay their heating bills during the winter.
Priority is given to those who are truly vulnerable — the lowest-income households with the highest heating costs. Special provisions are also made for those households whose heat is included in their rent and those living in subsidized housing.
To qualify for the LIHEAP program, you must have an income that falls within the program guidelines. For more details, call the Massachusetts Heat Line toll-free at 1-800-632-8175.
Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund provides financial assistance to help pay for energy costs for Massachusetts residents who are not eligible for other utility assistance programs. Visit this website for information on eligibility and where to apply.
The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) is the State’s largest state-funded rental assistance program to help extremely low income households avoid homelessness.
The MRVP helps families pay their rent by providing a subsidy in the form of voucher that covers the difference between what the landlord charges and what they can “afford to pay” — often no more than 30% of their income.
How to apply for MRVP assistance?
You may inquire at the Local Housing Authority in the area you wish to reside to see if they have an open waiting list or apply online for the centralized waiting list at www.section8listmass.org.
Emergency Assistance (EA) is a Massachusetts program that gives shelter and other emergency housing services to low-income families with children, and to pregnant women, who are homeless with no safe place to live.
You must have proof that your housing situation meets the shelter eligibility requirements such as domestic violence, natural disaster, no-fault eviction, or substantial risk to health and safety.
To apply for shelter services, please call 866-584-0653 and speak with a Homeless Coordinator or apply in person at the DHCD office nearest to you.
Massachusetts has just passed the most generous Paid Family Leave law in the nation, joining a number of states that have launched paid leave programs in recent years, including New York, Washington state, plus Washington, D.C.
Implementation will begin, in stages, starting in July 2019, though benefits will not begin until Jan 1, 2021. The law offers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in a year or up to 20 weeks for those with serious health condition.
While on leave, you will receive 80% of your average weekly wages up to one-half of the state’s average weekly wage — capped at $850 per week. You can use this online calculator to estimate your weekly benefits.
Unemployment insurance (UI) provides temporary financial assistance to workers unemployed through no fault of their own — for up to 30 weeks. The state pays up to $1,234 each week — the most generous in the country. 4
Change in Maximum Allowable UI Benefit Weeks
If you file a new claim for unemployment benefits on or after March 31, 2019, the maximum allowable period for which you may receive benefits will be 26 weeks. 5
You may also receive additional $25 per dependent child — capped at 50% of your benefit rate. For example, if you are receiving $100 per week in UI and have three dependents, your allowance is capped at $50.
You can file your initial claim using UI Online or if you wish to file your claim over the phone, please call TeleClaim Center at 1-877-626-6800.
The MASSGrant is the state’s flagship need-based award program for undergraduate students who reside in Massachusetts. Award amounts vary according to each applicant’s EFC and the type of institution.
To be eligible for a MASSGrant, you must submit and complete your FAFSA no later than May 1 AND have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,486 or less.
Students attending one of Massachusetts’ fifteen public community colleges may now apply for MASSGrant Plus — a new program to provide funds to some of the state’s neediest students.
For working adults and part-time, non-traditional students, the Massachusetts Part-Time Grant Program is an alternative to MASSGrants, which carries many of the same eligibility requirements.
Awards are made to students based on exceptional financial need as determined from filing the FAFSA and availability of funds — ranging from $200 to a maximum that depends on the type of institution that the student attends.References
- Crittenton Women’s Union, Massachusetts Economic Independence Index — What does it really take to make ends meet in Massachusetts?
- Max. federal EITC = $6,557*0.30 = $1,967 max. MA credit.
- Find a HIP retailer nearest you by visiting MassGrown
- What is the maximum unemployment benefit in Massachusetts?
- FAQ’s – Change in Maximum Allowable UI Benefit Weeks