Getting TAFDC after hitting the time limit

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

If your family is or was on TAFDC (welfare) and you have hit your 24 month time limit, you may still be able to get benefits.

Can I get an “exemption” from the time limit?

You may be able to get an "exemption" from the time limit, which means the time limit stops applying to you.

The time limit should not apply to your family if you can not work for one of the following reasons:

  • You have a physical or mental health problem, see TAFDC and parents with disabilities,
  • You are caring for a family member with a health problem,
  • You are in your third trimester of pregnancy,
  • You have a child under 2,
  • You are 60 or older,
  • You are a relative (not parent) of the child and chose not to be included in the TAFDC grant,
  • You cannot get TAFDC for yourself and cannot work because of your immigration status,
  • You are a teen parent and are going to school.

If any of these apply to you, tell your worker that you need to apply for an "exemption." You can apply for an exemption at any time.

Can I get a time limit exemption because of domestic violence?

If you are not able to work because of domestic violence that is happening now or happened in the past, you can apply for a "domestic violence waiver." This means that the time limit will stop for awhile.

You can apply for a domestic violence waiver of the time limit at any time, but DTA may deny the waiver if you apply before your 22nd month. If you want to apply before then, contact Legal Services for help.

Can I get an extension of the time limit?

Even if your family can not get an "exemption" or "domestic violence waiver," you can still apply for an "extension” to give you more time.  If you get an extension, your benefits will continue past the time limit.

If you apply for an extension:

  • DTA must give you a 3-month extension if you are working 35 hours a week but you are still below the income limit for welfare.
  • DTA must give you an extension of up to 3 months if you need it to finish an education or training program that was approved by DTA before you reached the time limit. If you need another 3 months after that, you should be able to get it, but you may need help from Legal Aid.
  • DTA should give you an extension if you are willing to go to a Job Search/Job Readiness program at a Career Center, a Supported Work Program (like CPM), or a program leading to a job with a specific employer. If DTA does not consider you to be "job ready," it may refer you to another activity or program. You will probably have to go to the program for 2 weeks before getting the extension.

You can apply for an extension in or after your 22nd month of benefits. If you have already lost your benefits due to the time limit, you can apply for an extension at any time.

When your extension ends, you can apply for another one.

What if I need an extension but I can't start job search, or can't continue it, for a good reason?

Tell DTA if you have a good reason for not being able to go, such as a sick family member or an emergency of any kind. See more information about good reasons.

  • Request Child Care: If you have a child under age 13 or an older child with a disability, ask your worker for a child care referral. DTA has to pay for child care if you need it to go to a program.
  • Request a different program or different hours: If you are working part-time and you can't go to the program because it is during the same hours as work, ask for a different program or different hours.


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