You are here

Want to share what you like about MassLegalHelp with us?


Who is exempt from the time limit and Work Program?


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

You are exempt from the time limit and Work Program if

If you are ineligible for benefits for yourself and cannot work for pay because of your immigration status, you are not subject to the time limit but you can be required to do a work activity other than paid work or job search. 106 C.M.R. § 703.150(A)(3) . See What are the work rules for noncitizen parents?

In a two-parent family, only one parent can claim an exemption based on the need to care for a child under age two or a disabled family member. Also, if one parent claims an exemption based on disability or pregnancy, the other parent cannot claim an exemption based on need to care for a young child unless the disabled or pregnant parent is unable to care for the child for medical reasons. 106 C.M.R. § 703.100(A)(2); DTA Online Guide (Two-Parent Exemption Restrictions).

Advocacy Reminders

  • If you qualified for any one of these exemptions for even part of the month, the whole month does not count towards your 24-month time limit.
  • You can ask for an exemption at any time – even if you reached your time limit and lost benefits. Review the exemptions to see if you might qualify for one.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Your Local DTA Office

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm