37. How do you qualify for a disability exemption?

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Notas finales

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

You qualify for a disability exemption if you have an illness or impairment expected to last for at least 30 days, and

  • you are an SSI or Social Security disability recipient, or
  • the Disability Evaluation Service (DES) determines that you meet the requirements for SSI, or
  • your condition matches the signs, symptoms and test results in DTA’s list of medical impairments, or
  • your impairments reduce your ability to work considering your age, education, and work experience. DTA Field Operations Memo 2010-30 (July 1, 2010); DTA Transitions, June 2009, p. 7.

Recent changes after the COVID-19 pandemic

Until further notice, DTA is still accepting self-declarations of disability status. You can verbally self-declare that you cannot work or participate due to your disability and that it is expected to last longer than 3 months.

DTA is changing its process for working with the Disability Evaluation Service (DES) to review medical information and decide whether you meet DTA’s disability rules. See Appendix E (DTA Online Guide Links).

Advocacy Reminders

  • DTA regulations as of 2016 do not say you are eligible if your condition matches DTA’s list of medical impairments or your impairments reduce your ability to work. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D, if DTA says you do not qualify for a disability exemption but you meet either of these criteria. See 106 C.M.R. § 703.190.
  • The EAEDC Advocacy Guide explains the current DTA disability rules and procedures in more detail. See www.masslegalservices.org under Legal Advocacy Guides. There are some differences in the procedures for EAEDC and TAFDC disability. For example, for EAEDC, you cannot apply for disability status unless your doctor fills out a medical report form. This is not a requirement for TAFDC under current DTA practice.
  • You are not required to chase down medical records but it may help your case if you can. If you need a specialist to evaluate your condition, be sure to say this on your Disability Supplement. Be sure to describe any pain, unusual fatigue, medicines, treatment and side effects. If DES schedules an examination, it is very important that you go. Be sure to call in advance if you must reschedule.
  • You can appeal a decision that you are not disabled.
  • Even if you are disabled, you can volunteer for education and training services. See Pathways to Work Plan. If you need special services because of your disability, DTA is required to provide “reasonable accommodation.” See the following questions:
  • DTA will accept medical documents that are scanned, faxed or photocopied from the original unless the document appears questionable. DTA Operations Memo 2012-32 (July 11, 2012).


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