The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Hotline 12/14: TAFDC direct deposit exemptions

Date: 
12/01/2014
Author: 
DTA

From the Hotline
If you have any questions on this column or other policy and procedural material, please have your Hotline
designee call the Policy Hotline at 617-348-8478.

Q. 1. My TAFDC client has an active bank account that he hasn’t used in a few years. Is he required to
have his grant deposited directly into this account?
A. 1. Yes, any TAFDC or EAEDC grantee with an active account is required to cooperate with the direct
deposit process. Otherwise, the client is subject to sanctioning in accordance with 106 CMR 706.410
(D).

Q. 2. My TAFDC applicant said she owes money to her bank. If her grant is directly deposited into her
bank account, she will lose hundreds of dollars because the bank will take her grant payment(s) to
repay previous late and overdrawn fees assessed on her account. Are there any exemptions to the
direct deposit rule?
A. 2. While there is no exemption for the client who owes money due to late and overdrawn fees, other
exemptions may apply. The direct deposit requirement does not apply if the:

  • bank is not accessible by public transportation within one mile of the client’s home or within one mile of the client’s bank.
  • grantee is disabled and can demonstrate an inability to meet the requirement due to lack of handicapped-accessible transportation services.
  • grantee is a victims of domestic violence and the co-holder of the bank account has a history of physical or emotional abuse, as detailed in 106 CMR 204.120(B)(3)(a) or 321.120 (B)(3)(a).

Q. 3. My TAFDC client does not meet the direct deposit exemption or exception qualifications. However,
she told me that it will be difficult for her to maintain her bank’s required minimum balance. Are
there banks that have lower minimum requirements and fewer fees?
A. 3. Yes. Certain financial institutions offer terms consistent with the Basic Banking for Massachusetts
guidelines. These guidelines were designed by the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council to
offer low-income households certain banking services. Banks with saving accounts adhering to these
guidelines agree to:

  • Require no more than $10 to open an account,
  • Charge no monthly fee on account balances of $10 or more,
  • Charge a monthly fee of no more than $1.00, and
  • Pay interest on all account balances of $10 or more.

Q. 4. Are there other ways cash assistance clients can reduce or minimize their banking fees?
A. 4. Yes. Remind clients that:

  • It costs $.85 each time they make three or more EBT cash withdrawals in a month from an ATM;
  • If they withdraw benefits from an ATM owned by Bank of America, Sovereign or Citizen’s Bank, they will not pay a bank fee. (The $.85 charge still applies if it is their third or more withdrawal in the month.);
  • It is important to check recent fee notices before withdrawing from an ATM; and
  • Many stores, including grocery and drug stores, allow cash back with your purchases, free of charge.

See Online Forms “Save More of Your Cash Benefits!!” for more details.

Q. 5. I understand that a preassembled Voter Registration packet must be handed to all clients at face-toface
applications, recertifications or reevaluations. Does this change how I have to complete the
questions on the Voter Registration page on BEACON?
A. 5. No, the Voter Registration page will continue to be completed in accordance with existing procedures.
Of, course for all face-to-face applications, recertifications or reevaluations the answers to questions
1 and 5 five will be Yes, as the preassembled Voter Registration packet must always be provided.

Q. 6. Do I need to hand a preassembled Voter Registration packet to clients when a client reports a change
of address in person?
A. 6. The preassembled Voter Registration packet should be provided to clients being seen in-person to
report an address change.

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