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How do you qualify for an exemption as the caregiver for a disabled child?

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, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 9 2022

You qualify for an exemption if you are the caregiver for a disabled child and

  • the child’s doctor verifies the disability on a DTA form or the child receives SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, and
  • the child’s doctor verifies that you are needed to care for the child, and if the child attends school full time or is otherwise out of the home, you show that the child needs your care during the day or night so you cannot work full time. The doctor can explain this on the form, or you can do your own statement and provide support for it from someone else. 106 C.M.R. § 703.100(B)(2).

Ask your DTA worker for the form to bring to your child’s doctor.

Advocacy Reminders

  • You are eligible for this exemption if you cannot work full time because of your child’s disability. For example, you may not be able to work full time because of your child’s doctor appointments or school crises, or because your child keeps you up at night and you need to sleep during the day.
  • You do not need to be related to the child you are caring for. The child you are caring for does not have to be receiving TAFDC. DTA Transitions, July 2012, p. 5; May 2007, p. 3.
  • DTA says that only one parent in a two-parent household may claim this exemption even if both parents are needed to care for the child or children. 106 C.M.R. § 703.100(A)(3). Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if this is a problem for you.

DTA may say you have to apply for Social Security benefits for a disabled child if you seek an exemption because you need to care for the child. You can ask DTA to help you apply for Social Security disability benefits. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if you have a good reason for not applying. See 106 C.M.R. § 703.100(A)(1)(b).

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