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How do you request an extension of benefits past the time limit?

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

The time limit was suspended during the pandemic. The rule below are the rules before the pandemic. 

If you have used 22 months of time-limited benefits, DTA should schedule an interview (by phone or in the DTA office) to discuss whether you want an extension of benefits beyond 24 months. If you do not keep the appointment your case will be closed at the end of month 24. DTA Operations Memo 2013-38 (July 26, 2013). If you request an extension before the closing date, your benefits should not stop until a decision is made on your extension request.

You can also ask for an extension after your 24 months of benefits have ended. You will need to file a new application for benefits with the extension request. If five years have passed since your time limit first started to run, you can just reapply for benefits without asking for an extension.

You have a right to request an extension of benefits.You should not tell DTA you do not want an extension unless you are sure you do not want your benefits to continue.

After the interview, the DTA worker makes a recommendation about whether your extension request should be approved or denied. The case worker’s supervisor reviews the recommendation and makes a recommendation to the director of the local DTA office. The local DTA office then makes a recommendation to the DTA Commissioner or a person designated by the DTA Commissioner who makes the final decision on your extension request. DTA Online Guide (Extension of Benefits Beyond the 24-Month Period).

Advocacy Reminders

  • You do not have to wait to request an extension until DTA schedules you for an interview. You can request an extension once you reach the 22nd month. 106 C.M.R. § 703.130.
  • Be sure to tell DTA about everything you have done to get education, training, or a job. Be sure to tell DTA about transportation, child care, health or family issues that have prevented you from getting education, training, or a job.
  • You have a right to have an advocate help you with the interview. You can ask to respond to the interview questions in writing.
  • DTA will ask how you are going to take care of your children when your benefits stop. You should explain to DTA any difficulty you will have taking care of your children and paying your bills. If you expect to get help from family or a job, you should be realistic about whether that help will last or is only short term.
  • Ask DTA for a copy of the Recommendation for Extension form so you can see if the information you gave them was properly recorded and if anything DTA wrote is not correct. Check the sanction history to make sure you are not being denied on the basis of past sanctions that were removed.
  • If your extension request is denied, ask for a copy of the Commissioner’s Extension Decision.
  • If you say you do not want an extension, DTA will ask you to sign a TAFDC Extension Refusal Form. Even if you do not want an extension or are sure you will not qualify for an extension, it is better not to sign this form.

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