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How many hours a week do you have to do a work activity?


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

Required hours of work activity depend on the age of your youngest child. You can meet the work requirement by doing one or a combination of activities for the required hours.

Youngest child between age two and school age. If you are not exempt and your youngest child is between the ages of two and age six or first grade (whichever is later) you must do 20 hours a week of work activity.

Youngest child school age or older. If you are not exempt and your youngest child is school age or older, you must do 30 hours a week of work activity. 106 C.M.R. § 703.150(A)(5); DTA Operations Memo 2011-42 (Sept. 2, 2011).

Advocacy Reminders

  • If you are in a homeless shelter and meeting your shelter housing search requirements, you meet the work activities requirement. 106 C.M.R. § 703.150(A)(2)(k). You do not have to show that you are doing housing search for a set number of hours.
  • DTA has a duty to help you locate work activities that meet the hours requirements. For example, if you must do 30 hours of work activities a week and your training program is 20 hours a week, DTA should help you find a program or community service placement for the additional hours. If DTA cannot find an appropriate program or placement for you, you have good cause, see 106 C.M.R. § 701.380(A)(8) and What if you have a good reason for not meeting Work Program rules?, for not doing the additional hours.
  • If you are in an education or training activity, each hour of participation (or each credit hour, if you are in college) counts as two hours towards the work requirement. In other words, if you are in college and you have 12 credit hours, you are counted as participating for 24 hours a week. If you are in a training program for 15 hours a week, you are counted as participating for 30 hours a week. DTA Field Operations Memo 2008-53A (Oct. 24, 2008); DTA Transitions, Aug. 2010, p. 8. You should also be able to get credit for additional study or laboratory time if it is supervised.
  • The federal Fair Labor Standards Act limits the number of hours you can participate in community service to meet the work requirement. See What if you can’t find an appropriate Work Activity?

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