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Updates: The Federal Public Charge Rule

March 26, 2021

On March 9, 2021 the Federal Government announced it is going back to the long-standing Public Charge Guidance in effect from the 1990s through 2019. Here is the Federal announcement and a link to the Guidance:

This means that Medicaid (MassHealth), public housing, and SNAP do not count as part of the Public Charge determination. The only benefits considered in public charge are programs (including Medicaid) that pay for long-term care in a medical institution such as a nursing home and needs-based cash assistance benefits such as SSI, TAFDC and EAEDC.

Unemployment benefits, WIC benefits, Pandemic EBT and Health Connector subsidies (Advance Premium Tax Credits/ConnectorCare) are also not subject to the public charge rules. The Guidance lists examples of many other benefits that are not subject to public charge, and the many types of immigrants who are not subject to the public charge test.

If you have questions about how this impacts you, we recommend speaking to an immigration expert.

For a list of immigration services in the community, visit

Information is available in multiple languages on the site.

Information about COVID-19

All individuals who qualify for MassHealth, Children’s Medical Security Plan, or Health Safety Net have access to the following services for free. None of these services are considered in the public charge test:

All individuals, regardless of immigration status, are strongly encouraged to receive COVID-19 testing, treatment, and the vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.

Help with food

If you need food assistance, you are not alone. As a result of COVID-19, one in three people in Massachusetts needs help getting food, many for the first time. Several programs can help you and your family get the food you need to stay healthy.

Visit for information about immediate access to food, as well as ongoing monthly financial support to buy food.

  • To apply for SNAP (monthly food dollars), visit
  • To learn more about Pandemic EBT (food dollars for families with children), visit


To visit, go to Information about the Public Charge rule


For information about applying for health coverage, visit or call MassHealth at1-800-841-2900; Health Connector at 1-877-623-6765.

For information about applying for public assistance benefits, visit or call the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) at 1-877-382-2363.

MassHealth and the Health Connector