Paid Family Medical Leave
What is Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML)?
Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) is a benefit for Massachusetts workers to take paid time off from work for certain family situations and serious health conditions. You can take up to 26 weeks of leave in a benefit year to:
- Care for your own serious health condition including illness, injury, or pregnancy/childbirth
- Care for a family member with a serious health condition
- Bond with your child during the first 12 months after birth, adoption, or foster placement
- Care for a family member who was injured during military services
- Manage affairs while a family member is on active duty
The amount of time you can take for PFML will depend on your circumstances. Learn more about different types of leave, including what you will need to prepare to apply for each.
How can PFML help improve my family’s health?
PFML provides qualifying individuals with paid time off to welcome a new child, recover from childbirth, take care of themselves when sick or injured, or take care of a close family member with serious health problems. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, paid leave has been shown to contribute to significant health benefits to children, caregivers, and families including:
- Improve child growth and development
- Lowers the risk of infant hospitalizations and death
- Less parental and financial stress
- Improve maternal health and reduce the risk of postpartum depression
- Improves parental involvement and family stability
Am I eligible for PFML?
There are five main factors to determine your PFML eligibility:
- Have a qualifying reason or condition certified by a health care provider
- Your type of employment is eligible under PFML law
- Your employer doesn't have an approved private paid leave plan
- You need to meet DFML’s earnings requirements
- You must work for a Massachusetts business or state agency
How can I apply for PFML?
Take these steps to get your application ready:
- Notify your employer before you need to take leave. Provide at least 30 days notice before your official leave date, if possible.
- Collect information about your leave. This includes the reason you are taking leave and when you plan to take leave. Your health care provider must certify your need for medical leave.
- Gather documents and personal information. Use this checklist to find out what you’ll need to apply for paid leave benefits.
- Find your employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN). Reach out to your employer’s payroll, accounting, or human resources department for this number.
Earned Income Tax Credit
What is Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is money eligible taxpayers can get back by filing your taxes. Depending on how much you earn and how many children you have, you may be eligible to get thousands of dollars. Even if you don’t normally file taxes, you still may be eligible for EITC.
How can EITC help improve my family’s health?
Many families use their EITC to pay for childcare, medical care, and healthy food. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, EITC has been shown to have many health benefits for children and families including:
- Increased access to healthy food
- Reduced stress for affording necessary expenses including transportation, medical care, and housing
- Better school performance and greater college enrollment among children
- Fewer mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, among children
- Better health outcomes, including improvements in high blood pressure and inflammation, for mothers
- Better health outcomes, such as increased birth weight, for infants
Am I eligible for EITC?
You may be eligible for EITC if you:
- Worked for pay last year and have dependent kids. Pay limits depend on how many kids you have.
- Support just yourself, are at least 19 years old and earned less than $21,430.
- File taxes with your spouse, don’t have dependent kids, are at least 19 years old and earned less than $27,380.
- People experiencing homelessness and 18 year olds who were in foster care may also be eligible.
Learn more information about EITC eligibility.
How can I claim my EITC?
To claim your EITC, you must file a tax return and meet EITC eligibility requirements.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program gives free help to file your taxes and claim your EITC. They can also connect you to other services including rental assistance, health and food programs, and early childhood education and care services.
BabySteps Savings Plan
What is BabySteps?
The BabySteps Savings Plan (BabySteps) helps families start saving for their child's future education. Every child who is a Massachusetts resident is eligible for a $50 BabySteps deposit within one year of their birth or adoption.
Families that sign up for BabySteps will receive a free $50 deposit from the Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office. To get the free $50 deposit, you must open a MEFA U.Fund College Investing Plan account (also known as a Massachusetts 529 Plan) and name your child as the Beneficiary. This plan allows you to save for your child's education in a flexible, tax-advantaged account.
How can BabySteps help improve my family’s health?
Signing up for BabySteps for your newborn or adopted child allows more time for savings to increase in their account. According to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, research shows that programs like BabySteps may help:
- Improve social and emotional health and development for children
- Support parental mental health
- Boost academic performance for children
Am I eligible for BabySteps?
To be eligible to receive the BabySteps $50 deposit a child must:
- Be a Massachusetts resident.
- Have been born or adopted less than one year ago.
- Be included on an Adoption Verification Form. (Adopted children can be born before January 1, 2020, but the adoption must have taken place less than one year ago.)
- Be named the beneficiary on a MEFA U.Fund 529 account within one year of birth or adoption.
How can I apply for BabySteps?
You can sign up for BabySteps by opening a MEFA U.Fund College Investing Plan and name your child as the Beneficiary to receive the funds.
Seeking financial resources can be difficult, but families don’t have to go through the process alone. There are many other financial options available that can help support you and your family’s health, education, and future.
- Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC)
- WIC is a free nutrition program that provides healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and other services to eligible Massachusetts families.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- SNAP can help you buy healthy food and connect you with education and employment opportunities.
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)
- TAFDC is a cash benefit program that helps pregnant individuals, families, and caregivers explore opportunities, help meet their childcare needs, and reach their goals.