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How to Keep Up with the Law

Alert

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

Look up the regulations. The first thing you need to do is look up the regulations. DTA’s regulations covering TAFDC in Massachusetts are printed in Chapter 106 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (106 C.M.R.).

In this Guide, we refer to the regulation numbers, but this Guide does not include all the rules. And no one can remember all of them – you have to look them up. Also, the rules change faster than we can reissue the Guide. You can find the latest regulations (with the latest numbering) on DTA’s website.

You also need to look at DTA policy materials. DTA posts some policy materials in its Online Guide, available on the DTA website. The TAFDC Advocacy Guide refers to specific pages in the DTA Online Guide. You can find the page by typing the information about the page into the Online Guide search box. Older policy materials we refer to in this Guide are available at www.masslegalservices.org/benefits. In some cases you also need to look at state statutes. Sometimes you need to look at federal statutes and regulations. If you do not have access to these materials, you should check with someone who does. Legal services programs have most of the state and federal materials and have trained advocates who may be able to answer your questions. A list of these programs is in Appendix D.

The online version of this Guide, available www.masslegalservices.org under Legal Advocacy Guides, provides links to the regulations and older policy materials.

This Guide shows that the TAFDC program is complicated. As a result, DTA denies benefits to many eligible people. In addition, many eligible people don't apply because they don't know they are eligible and because the application process is daunting. You can help by learning the rules, explaining them to people in need, and advocating for their right to the benefits they need for themselves and their children.

This Guide also shows that TAFDC rules often hinder the goal of aiding children and families. By joining together, we can change state and federal welfare laws to create programs that meet families’ needs and enable them to escape poverty.

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