The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

47. How does DTA treat assets I spent, gave away or transferred to someone else?

ALERT:  Many of the rules in the TAFDC/EAEDC Advocacy Guide do NOT apply during the pandemic. Please go to the following COVID-19 & DTA benefits page: https://www.masslegalservices.org/DTA-COVID-19 until further notice for more information about changes.

If you spent, gave away, or otherwise transferred any money or property during the year before you applied for EAEDC, DTA may say you are not eligible. DTA should not disqualify you if:

  • at the time of the transfer, you thought you had enough left to live on for a year after the transfer;
  • you spent the money on :
    • shelter, fuel, utilities, or food (up to the standard of need for your family size), and/or
    • necessary medical expenses (including health insurance premiums);
  • you spent the money on transportation costs (less than $150/month), replacement or purchase of basic household furniture or appliances, repairing your dwelling, court-ordered judgments, certain government obligations like taxes, or a prepaid funeral arrangement and burial plot;
  • you spent the money on expenses related to your work or education;
  • you spent the money on something that is not an "extraordinary expense" (something you would not normally buy) and the amount you spent was less than 25% of your average monthly income (based on the previous six months of your income);
  • you or the person who made the transfer was legally incompetent or coerced; or
  • the transfer was the result of a court action.

See 106 C.M.R. § 704.135 for a description of the transfer of asset rules.

Advocacy Reminders:

  • DTA should count only the amount of money you spent or transferred that exceeds the EAEDC asset limit of $250 for an individual or $500 for a couple or a family (in combination with the other countable assets you had at the time).
  • DTA may try to apply the transfer or assets rules to recipients whose assets to over the $250 limit for an individual or $500 for a couple. See DTA Operations Memo 2014-57 (Oct. 10, 2014). This may be illegal. Consult an advocate if this happens to you.
  • The transfer of assets rule is often very unfair and may be illegal. Check with an advocate for legal help if DTA says you are not eligible because of the transfer of assets rule.

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