Seniors in Massachusetts are considered low-income when their earned income is beneath 80% of the area median income for their household size. Anything under 50% of the area’s median income is considered a very low income. In Massachusetts, the statewide median income for households is $89,026 according to the 2021 U.S. Census. The per capita income is $48,617. Using these figures, a senior household with an income of less than $71,220.80 would be considered low income. A single senior with an income of less than $38,893.6 would be considered low income. Senior households with less than $44,513 per year or single seniors with less than $24,308.50 annually would be considered very low income.

State and federal assistance is available for seniors who meet income eligibility, but the cutoff is often lower than what is classified as low income in the state. These programs can provide assistance with health care (including home health care for those who qualify), food and living expenses.

Medicaid Programs for Low-Income Seniors in Massachusetts

MassHealth is the state’s Medicaid program and offers several senior-specific programs to assist with care. To qualify, a single senior must have an income under $18,075 per year. A senior in a household of two must have an income of less than $24,353 to qualify, much less than what is considered a low income in Massachusetts. 

Eligible seniors can enroll in the Senior Care Options program, which provides coverage for all services normally paid for on Medicaid and Medicare. In addition, it offers social support services for seniors living at home or in long-term care facilities. Seniors on Medicaid may also qualify for the Frail Elder Waiver. The waiver can cover additional support for seniors 60 and older who require the level of care for a nursing facility but who wish to remain at home. This program covers many in-home services, including homemaker services, home health aides and skilled nursing.

Other Assistance for Low-Income Seniors in Massachusetts

Low-income seniors in Massachusetts may also qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to subsidize their food budgets. Eligible seniors will receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer card that will be funded with a monthly stipend dependent on income. These benefits can only be used on approved food items at participating stores. Most stores that sell non-prepared foods accept EBT cards, and in some cases, it’s possible to have groceries delivered using these benefits.

Some seniors may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. Both programs provide supplemental cash benefits to qualifying seniors. SSI is available for individuals with little or no income, and some seniors may qualify for this as well as Social Security benefits. It is not required for seniors to have paid into Social Security to qualify for SSI. Disabled seniors under the age of 67 who will qualify for Social Security benefits upon reaching retirement age may qualify for SSDI. However, once a senior reaches age 67, they no longer qualify for SSDI.