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What happens if you do not meet the Work Program rules?

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 Work Program was suspended during the pandemic. DTA has reinstated the work rules but has not reinstated sanctions. The rules below are the rules before the pandemic.

Unless you are exempt from the “Work Program” requirements, which include having an “Employment Development Plan,” DTA may lower or stop your TAFDC for not meeting the requirements. See 106 C.M.R. § 707.200.

Starting an activity. If you are under the work requirement, you have the right to pick an activity. See What activities count towards the Work Program requirement?

If you don’t have an activity. DTA is supposed to refer you to an appropriate activity. DTA gives or sends you a form for you to take to the program providing the activity and requires you to get it signed and turned in to DTA. DTA also sends you an Employment Development Plan stating the activity they are saying you must do,

If you don’t agree with the activity DTA picked. If you do not think that the activity DTA picked makes sense for you or will be possible for you to do, contact your worker or the Full Engagement Worker in your DTA office. If you explain that you want to do an appropriate activity and will work with DTA to enroll in one, DTA should allow this. DTA Online Guide (Day 60: Follow-up Interview).

If you don’t follow up on the referral from DTA. If you haven’t gone to the place DTA referred you within 20 days or contacted your DTA office about getting a different activity, DTA will send you a “warning notice” saying DTA will lower your TAFDC.

Lowering your TAFDC. If you haven’t worked things out with DTA, then 10 days after the warning notice, DTA will send you a notice telling you that your TAFDC will be lowered because you are not meeting the work requirement. DTA will also send another referral to an activity. If you contact DTA and agree to do an appropriate activity, DTA should remove the sanction. DTA Online Guide (Removing Sanctions).

Stopping TAFDC to your whole family. If your TAFDC is being lowered and you don’t work things out with DTA, then 20 days after the notice about lowering your TAFDC (and the new referral that came with it), DTA will send another “warning notice.” Twenty days after that warning notice, DTA will send a notice saying DTA will stop all TAFDC for your family because you did not comply with your Employment Development Plan. If you contact DTA and agree to start an appropriate activity, DTA should stop the termination of your TAFDC or reinstate it if it already stopped. DTA Online Guide (Removing Sanctions).

Stopping TAFDC if you have another problem later. DTA’s computer is set up so that if your TAFDC was ever lowered for not meeting the work requirement and you are later accused of another instance of not meeting the work requirement, DTA skips the step of lowering your TAFDC. The notice you get will be to stop all TAFDC to your family.

If your family’s TAFDC is stopped because of not meeting the work requirement or not complying with your Employment Development Plan, you can get your case reopened if:

Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if any of the rights described above are violated.

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