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Massachusetts public assistance and government aid.

A number of resources are offered in Massachusetts by agencies including Health and Human Services and the Department of Transitional Assistance. These organizations provide public aid, including cash and case management, to low income families and people who are faced with a crisis. Services can provide free health care, food, funds for paying energy bills, and much more. Find how to apply and where below.

An extensive summary of the resources available are listed below. Each program will have its own conditions that need to be met, and they also have limited funding. Priority for cash assistance is usually provided to families with children, seniors, and the disabled in the state of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or TAFDC, can sometimes be called public assistance or welfare. Funds and grants can be provided to pay bills, rent, food, and other expenses. It is a state government program that gives benefits, including cash assistance, to working poor and low-income families that have children. In addition, pregnant women may also qualify for cash assistance / TAFDC. If you apply and are accepted, you will need to also commit to finding a job or employment as well in order to maintain eligibility.

Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children, or EAEDC, can help low-income elders, disabled individuals and children. Cash and other public aid is offered. If you do not qualify for any other option or services then the Massachusetts EAEDC program may assist.

Supplemental Security Income is a federal government cash assistance program offered in Massachusetts by Health and Human Services. It can help adults, seniors, or disabled children. Cash and public assistance is offered for basic living needs and bills.

Financial assistance and counseling is offered for veterans, military members, and their families. Services are offered by Veterans' Services. The resource is a cash assistance program for veterans and their immediate family members. Funds can be provided to pay for rent, food, shelter, clothing, energy bills, housing supplies, and medical care. In addition, Veteran Services can also offer education, referrals to employment, substance abuse treatment, housing and other services so veterans can become self-sufficient.




Unemployment and/or Cash Benefits for Workers is offered for workers in Massachusetts who lose their job through no fault of their own, who retire, or are disabled. It can also help people who are unable to work due to job-related injuries or disabilities. Unemployment Insurance can give temporary cash payments which can be used to pay bills to qualified people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In addition, Massachusetts Medical Security Program can provide health care insurance coverage for workers.

Child Care Services and assistance is offered as part of DTA as well as a program known as Income-eligible Child Care. Families can receive child care vouchers for paying for day or child care costs. Aid is prioritized from this public assistance resource for families who are looking for a job, who are currently working, or individuals who are in an approved job training or education program, or who are disabled. Click more Massachusetts free child care.

Teenage parents can also get free or low cost child care in Massachusetts. Teen Parent Child Care is a state funded program that can offer free child care, public assistance and other benefits and support services to teen parents who are working, who are in high school, a GED program, or job training.

Children up to age 5 and their parents can benefit from Head Start / Early Head Start. Access educational programs, health care, nutrition, and other aid that helps kids prepare for school. Social services are provided to parents too, including help finding a job. Head Start and Early Head Start are free early childhood programs for pregnant women and for children from birth to age 5. These programs help children from low-income families get a healthy start and become ready for school. Both programs give children and their families a wide range of educational and social services.





A number of services are offered from Early Childhood and Preschool Programs. Low income families in Massachusetts can get access to free resources. The number of assistance programs vary widely, but can include free day care, preschool, family child care, or in home day care. Referrals are also offered.

Education, English as Second language, and Adult Basic Education is offered by Massachusetts Health and Human Services. This is a free instruction program for adult learners who want to improve their education or English language skills. Programs offer writing, basic reading, math, and problem-solving classes.

Get help finding a job from One-Stop Career Centers. These are funded by public money and offer people a wide range of employment and job finding services to help workers develop their skills and find jobs. They also have information on a number of job training programs, such as the workers investment act. These programs are offered to Massachusetts residents of all income levels who need job training to find work, skills to change careers, or additional skills in advancing in their jobs.

Heating and energy assistance is offered in Massachusetts from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program LIHEAP. This federal government public assistance program can help pay their heating and utility bills. Funds can pay a regular bill, or provide emergency cash to stop a disconnection.

Citizens Energy Heat Assistance, also known as Oil Heat, can provide qualified households with a voucher for 100 free gallons of home heating oil. In addition, a $150 utility bill credit can be provided to eligible households who heat their homes with natural gas. The heating oil and aid is provided to Massachusetts families from CITGO.

The non-profit Good Neighbor Energy Fund can help people with no other options available. They need to have applied for or used emergency aid from programs like LIHEAP. The Good Neighbor Energy Fund can help those facing an emergency and can provide cash for heating and energy bills. Even if you do not qualify for government fuel assistance programs then this resource may still help with energy costs.

Save money of energy bills in Massachusetts from Weatherization Assistance. Both renters and homeowners who get TAFDC, LIHEAP fuel assistance, SSI, or other public assistance can have their homes weatherized for free through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This provides free updates and improvements to homes and apartments, all of which make homes easier to heat, and your resulting fuel and heating bills are lower.

Massachusetts Telephone and Utility Discounts - Almost all electric, gas, and telephone companies offer reduced rates to seniors, low-income, and disabled customers who receive public assistance benefits. Many people may qualify for up to 40% discount on their services. Some of the programs are known as LinkUp or Lifeline. Utility companies also offer discounts on utility bills too.





The state of Massachusetts offers Utility Shutoff Protection. Various state laws and regulations are in place to stop utility companies from shutting off heating or electric service to low income eligible households, especially during the winter. Eligible households include people with serious illnesses, senior households, and low-income families with infants or young children. And of course applicants can’t afford to pay their utility bills. During the winter months, utility and gas companies across Massachusetts cannot shut off heating-related utilities for households with a financial hardship or emergency.

Get help paying overdue utility bills from Utility Arrearage Programs. These are also in place from many power companies. Utility arrearage programs help families and individuals restore utility service that has already been shut off or ideally prevent utility shutoffs. Services and assistance available include debt forgiveness or payment plans, or a combination of the two. Utility arrearage programs in Massachusetts include Arrearage Management Programs (AMPs), Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), and utility company programs including negated payment plans.

MassSave provides ways to save money on energy bills. Get access to tips and information about energy-saving products, free home energy assessments, rebates, loans, and other incentives and/or tax credits for energy-saving home improvements.

Food assistance is offered from SNAP food stamps, Meals on Wheels, food pantries, WIC, and other public aid. A summary of resources are below.

  • SNAP Food Stamps provide vouchers and debit cards. The resource is a federal government public assistance program that helps low-income households pay for groceries, meals, and food. SNAP food stamps and their vouchers can be used to buy food at convenience stores, items in supermarkets, and even buy food and meals from farmers' markets.
  • Dining Centers as well as Meals on Wheels can provide prepared nutritional meals and groceries to the disabled and/or homebound seniors age 60 or older. In addition, there are many Dining Centers in Massachusetts that are congregate meal sites for seniors. They can get free meals and social services.
  • Food Pantries - Provide free groceries, emergency food boxes, and free meals. Several non-profit organizations and food banks also offer free or low cost bags of food, diapers, baby formula and supplies, and other food and household items for Massachusetts residents.
  • WIC is offered in Massachusetts by Health and Human Services. It can provide free healthy food to children, women, infants, pregnant moms and others who need it for addressing nutritional problems.
  • Summer Food and School Meals offer free or low cost meals, food, milk and other items to kids and teenagers from low income households. The Summer Food Program provides free meals, snacks and groceries, for children and teens at community center, parks, and schools.

MassHealth is the public health and dental insurance program for residents of Massachusetts.  There are different components as indicated below.

The first offering is known as Commonwealth Care. This is a state-funded health and dental insurance program for uninsured low and moderate-income individuals and families who do not qualify for MassHealth. Qualified low income and uninsured residents may choose from several health plans offered by private or state health insurance companies. There may be some charges, however monthly fees are based on income. Any type of public health insurance coverage provided is free for very low income families or residents.

Health Safety Net, or Free Health Care, is offered for health insurance coverage for people who cannot afford to buy coverage or who need care. Low income or insured residents who qualify for the Safety Net can get medically necessary health services at a number of clinics as well as community health centers and hospitals in Massachusetts. Services are offered at no charge or medical bills may be reduced for qualified people. The Safety Net programs can also help lower income families with medical hardships or emergencies who do not have enough income to pay their medical bills and who don’t qualify for other public assistance or care.







If you income is a little too high, then Commonwealth Choice may be your best option. Commonwealth Choice is a public Massachusetts health insurance program that offers low premiums, fees, and bills.

Children's Medical Security can provide care for people, including teenagers and children, who are 19 or younger. Both preventive and primary medical care services are offered.

Last, but not least, Medicare is the federal government medical insurance program. It focuses on people who are 64 or older, or those with disabilities too. The government Medicare program provides basic protection to the low income in Massachusetts, and does not cover all medical bills or does not pay for most long-term care.

Government and public assistance by county

Call any of these human service agencies for information. Or dial the Department of Transitional Assistance (800) 590-4820 or call Massachusetts Health and Human Services at 1-800-841-2900. In addition to the statewide resources referenced above, find local programs for towns and counties across the state.

Suffolk and Middlesex County



By Jon McNamara

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