TAFDC Grant Payments

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits are time limited cash assistance benefits for families with children and pregnant women in the last 120 days of pregnancy. The goal of TAFDC is to help families achieve self-sufficiency through employment. Besides cash, TAFDC benefits also include job training and assistance, education support and child care for clients who meet education/work eligibility requirements.

TAFDC is the primary cash assistance program administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) under the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant. Families receive a cash payment depending on family size and financial thresholds, and can also receive child care and transportation support associated with the job/education requirement. Referrals to substance abuse and mental health services, as well as domestic violence specialists are also available.

Clients must meet financial and work/training/education eligibility requirements. Financial requirements include both income and asset thresholds. On the asset side, a family must have countable assets valued under $2,500 to qualify. There are two income limits and both must be met for eligibility. The first is gross income (total countable income) and the second is net income (gross income minus deductions - an earned income disregard, and certain deductions for child care and work-related expenses). Gross income eligibility which for a family of three is $1,143, increases a little under $200 with each additional family member. Eligibility is measured at monthly intervals meaning a family which exceeds the income threshold in one month becomes ineligible for benefits.

To be eligible for TAFDC, a client must have at least one child under the age of 18 in the home, be a Massachusetts resident, and be a citizen or eligible non-citizen of the U.S. The other main non-financial requirement is the work/training/education requirement. This requirement stipulates how many hours must be spent working or looking for work, or in a training or education program. A single parent must meet the work requirement of 20 hours per week with a child under mandatory school age. The requirement increases to 30 hours per week for a child who is mandatory school age. Clients with disabilities limiting their ability to work and those taking care of disabled family members are exempt from the work requirement along with women in the last four months of pregnancy and clients age 60 or older.

TAFDC benefits are time limited with recipients limited to 24 months of assistance in any continuous 60-month period. Caseloads under AFDC, the program which preceded TAFDC, consistently numbered over 100,000 cases leading up to the change to TAFDC in 1995. In FY 2000, the number of active cases dipped below 50,000 and stayed below this level until FY 2010. After increasing to above 50,000 during the recession, caseloads have once again dropped, falling from a high of 53,000 in the fall of 2013 to 36,674 in September 2015. As caseloads have dropped, so has the amount of support families receive. Between FY 2001 and FY 2016, the maximum grant for families decreased by more than 80 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.

In FY 2015, the passage of Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2014 changed disability standards for TAFDC clients. This change aligns the TAFDC definition of a qualifying disability with the federal SSI standard - a more difficult standard for some individuals with disabilities to meet. This will likely cause several thousand individuals with disabilities to lose their work exemption and face work requirements or lose eligibility. This bill also requires 30 days of job search before applicants can receive benefits potentially causing families to have to wait longer to get benefits and making it harder for them to prove eligibility.

Updated February 2017

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