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Can DTA cut your benefits to pay itself back?

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

If you are a current recipient, DTA can recover both fraud and non-fraud overpayments by reducing your benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 706.250. This includes overpayments that happen because of a DTA mistake, your mistake or because you got benefits while you were waiting for a hearing and you lost the hearing. 106 C.M.R. § 706.220.

DTA will reduce your TAFDC by 10 percent of the Payment Standard for your family size. 106 C.M.R. § 706.290(B). For example, if you get a two-person grant for which the Payment Standard $491 a month, DTA will cut your grant by 10%, or $49.10 a month, to pay an overpayment.

DTA has said that it will not reduce TAFDC benefits to recover an overpayment if the only recipients are children, but has not yet put this policy in writing.

BSI or DTA may try to get you to agree to a bigger reduction. You can refuse. 106 C.M.R. § 706.290(B). Be careful not to agree to repay so much that you do not have enough for your expenses.

You have the right to advance notice and an opportunity for a hearing before your benefits are reduced. 106 C.M.R. §§ 706.210, 343.225. DTA may say you cannot challenge the overpayment at this point, so if you think the overpayment did not happen or the amount is not correct, you should request a hearing when you first get notice of the overpayment and should not wait to receive notice of the reduction before asking for a hearing.

DTA can also recover the overpayment by not paying you for an underpayment you are owed. See What if DTA makes a mistake and owes you money? This is called “offsetting.”

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