Welfare Eligibility in Massachusetts

Welfare eligibility in Massachusetts depends on several factors including income, citizenship status and family size. Applicants must usually meet stringent financial and employment guidelines to secure benefits from the state. These regulations also provide applicants with a variety of ways to exempt working requirements, stay home and continue to collect benefits. The larger the family, the larger the monthly benefit.

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General Eligibility

You must be a resident of Massachusetts and U.S. citizen or eligible alien to qualify for welfare in the state. You must also be the parent of an in-home dependent child under 18 or 18 years old and attending school full-time or be a woman in the last four months of pregnancy. You must have a valid Social Security number or proof of application for a Social Security number when you apply for welfare benefits. You may qualify for welfare benefits in Massachusetts even if you're homeless.

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Income and Asset Requirements

As of May 2011, your total countable assets may not exceed $2,500 to retain eligibility for welfare benefits. Countable assets include cash, bank accounts, pensions or retirement funds, stocks and bonds, real estate other than your home and any automobiles you own. Your gross and net income limits must also fall below those established by Massachusetts for a family of your size and your housing status. Net income is your remaining income after the state deducts all countable costs, including living expenses and housing payments, from your gross income. For example, as of May 2011 the gross income limit for a family of two living in subsidized housing is $908.35. The net income limit for this family is $491.

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Work and School Rules

You must work between 20 to 30 hours a week or participate in an Employment Services Program to retain eligibility for welfare benefits in Massachusetts. Exceptions to this rule apply if you have a legal disability, are over 60, within the last four months of pregnancy, caring for a child under 3 months old, are a teen parent attending school full-time or a job training program at least 20 hours a week or have a domestic violence waiver from the state. Special circumstances outside of these situations may also exempt you from the work/school requirement.

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Disqualifying Actions

If you sell or give away any countable assets or take an unpaid vacation from your job within 12 months of your application to intentionally lower your assets or income limits for the purpose of obtaining welfare benefits, you may not receive benefits for at least 12 months. You are ineligible for welfare benefits if you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest for failing to appear at a court date, are an illegal alien, are in violation of probation or parole, are fleeing prosecution or arrest for a felony. A 12-month waiting period for welfare benefits from the date is required after any felony drug conviction.

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