TAFDC and parents with disabilities

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

If you have a low income, have a disability and cannot work full-time, you may be able to get TAFDC for yourself and your children.

You do not have to be a disabled parent to qualify for TAFDC, but if you are, your family is “exempt from the TAFDC 24 month time limit and the work rules. This means that the 24 month time limit and work rules  will not apply to you.

If you are getting TAFDC now, you can still ask for a disability exemption at any time. If you are approved as disabled, your 24 month clock and work rule obligations stop.

What does it mean to be disabled under the TAFDC rules?

To be disabled under the TAFDC rules you must either

  • receive SSI or Social Security disability, or
  • have a physical or mental impairment that lasts at least 3 months and substantially reduces or eliminates your ability to support yourself. 


You may be disabled if you suffer from migraine headaches, asthma, cancer, severe arthritis, back pain. 

You may also be disabled if you suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders. 

If you have a physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments, that make it hard for you to work regularly and full-time, you can ask for a disability exemption.

How do I show I am disabled?

As of August 2023, DTA verifies a disability exemption by asking you for a verbal or written statement that 

  • you cannot work or participate in an Employment and Training program because of your disability, and
  •  it's expected to last for longer than 3 months. 
My family has already used up our 24 months of TAFDC. Can I reapply for TAFDC and ask for an exemption?

Yes. You have the right to reapply for TAFDC at any time, even if you have used up 24 months of benefits. When you reapply, tell the DTA worker you are seeking an exemption from the time limit and that you are disabled. Contact your local Legal Services office if you are denied the right to reapply or denied an exemption.

DTA denied my request for an exemption, but sometimes I need to stay home from work when I am sick. Will DTA cut off my benefits for not meeting the work rules?

DTA must allow you to show you have a good reason (called "good cause") for not cooperating with the work rules. 

If you are a family that must work or do community service for your benefits, you can still claim good cause if you need to stay home because you or your child is sick. 

Be sure to tell your worker as well as your community service employer why yor cannot come to work. As long as you notify your DTA worker, DTA should not cut your TAFDC benefits (or “sanction” your case). If DTA denies your claim of good cause, you can appeal.


I have been denied an exemption. What can I do?

You have the right to ask for a fair hearing. Learn more about How to appeal a DTA decision.

If you received a notice denying your disability exemption or cutting off your TAFDC, contact your local Legal Services office immediately. You can also fill out the back and ask for a fair hearing. 


If you are a survivor of domestic violence, you can also ask for a domestic violence waiver. Ask your DTA worker or call a DTA Domestic Violence specialist immediately.


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