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What if you need help right away?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

You can get help with immediate needs for housing expenses, food, or health insurance within 24 hours of your application. 106 C.M.R. § 702.125(F). Be sure to tell the worker if you need help with immediate needs. DTA is supposed to screen you to determine if you qualify for an immediate needs payment. DTA Operations Memo 2013-35 (July 26, 2013).

Rent, Utilities or Fuel

If you need help right away with rent, utilities or fuel and you appear to be eligible, you can get an advance on your TAFDC benefits to pay for these things. The advance will be paid as a voucher to the landlord, utility or fuel company.


You may qualify for emergency or “expedited” SNAP (food stamp) benefits. If not, you can get an advance on your TAFDC benefits to pay for food.


DTA can give you a temporary MassHealth card.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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