(BOSTON – 04/29/2020) Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported legislation recently passed by the Senate that makes it easier for residents who have lost incomes due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to access critical safety net programs.
The bipartisan legislation temporarily prohibits the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) from denying applications for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) program or the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program on the bases of those programs’ asset limits.
“During this challenging time, we need to do everything we can to support the most vulnerable residents in our district and throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, a member of the COVID-19 Senate Working Group. “I’m grateful for the Senate President and fellow members of the Senate Working Group for advancing this legislation, which will ensure that at-risk populations are not denied the resources they need and deserve.”
The TAFDC program provides cash assistance to families with children, as well as pregnant women in the last 120 days of pregnancy, who have little or no assets or income. To receive TAFDC, one must meet both an income limit and an asset limit, which prohibits applicants from having countable assets worth more than $5,000.
EAEDC provides cash assistance to Commonwealth residents who: are unable to work due to a disability; are over 65 years old and waiting for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to start; or living with and taking care of a child who is not a close relative or who requires in-home care. In addition to meeting the above criteria, an EAEDC applicant must meet an income limit and an asset limit, which is $250 for an individual and $500 for a couple. The value of a house and $1,500 of the value of a car are not counted towards this limit.
Those who have lost income due to the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency and, as a result, qualify for the income limits of these programs face the possibility of needing to spend down crucial savings to meet the asset limits at a time when they should be preserving savings. This legislation therefore temporarily removes those asset limits.
The components of thebill include:
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Asset Limit:prohibits the Department of Transitional Assistance from denying a family assistance under Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children solely because the family’s countable resources exceed $5,000.
- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children Asset Limit: prohibits the Department of Transitional Assistance from denying a person assistance under Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children solely because the person’s countable resources exceed the allowable limit.
- Both provisions of the bill will remain in effect for 120 days after the law goes into effect or 45 days after the state of emergency ends, whichever is sooner. The Governor may postpone the expiration of the provisions of the bill for a period of time that doesn’t go beyond 45 days after the state of emergency ends.
The bill, which is the latest action by the Senate to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its impact on Massachusetts, now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.