TAFDC work rules

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

The TAFDC program has work rules. 

But you have the right to be excused from the work rules if you can not work due to

  • health problems,
  • domestic violence,
  • pregnancy, or
  • emergency situations.
Who does not have to meet (is "exempt" from) the work rules?

Many people do not have to meet the rules (are "exempt" from the rules). For example, you are exempt if you:

  • are disabled 
  • are caring for a child or spouse with disabilities,
  • are pregnant with a due date within 120 days,
  • have a child under 2, 
  • are 60 or older, 
  • are a relative caregiver receiving TAFDC for a child in your home grandparents raising grandchildren).
How many hours do I need to work each week if I have to meet the work rules?

It depends on the age of the youngest child in your home.

  • If the youngest child is age 6 or started first grade (whichever date is later), you have to work or be in a program for 30 hours per week.
  • If the youngest child is age 2 through 5, you have to work or be in a program for 20 per week.
What kind of things count to meet the work rules?
  • Working in a job for pay,
  • Participating in an DTA Pathways to Work education, employment or training activity,
  • Volunteering at an community service site approved by DTA, or
  • A combination of one or more of the above. 
Can I get child care?

Yes. You can get free child care for the hours you are meeting the work rules. You can also get child care for the time it takes you to travel between the child care placement and your work activity.

What does DTA count as good reasons for not meeting the work rules?

DTA may excuse you from the work rules if you show DTA you have a good reason for not meeting the rules.  

If you can't work because of current or past domestic violence, you may be able to get a “waiver” of the work rules for a certain amount of time, such as six months or a year.  Learn more at TAFDC for survivors of domestic violence.

  • Child care: if you are not able to find or get enough hour coverage from safe child care;
  • Transportation: if you do not have reliable transportation that you can afford;
  • Housing search: if you are in Emergency Assistance shelter;
  • Lack of community service placement: if DTA has not given you a community service placement;
  • Health: if you or a family member is sick, hurt, or disabled;
  • Learning disability assessment: if you asked for one and are waiting to have it;
  • Illegal working conditions: if the job you were offered
    • pays less than minimum wage,
    • discriminates against you because of age, sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, or physical or mental disability,
    • does not meet health and safety standards, or
    • is not available because of a strike or lockout; or
  • All other good reasons : a family crisis, an emergency or any other important situation that you can not control and that needs your attention during the hours you would normally be working or in a program.
How do I show I have a good reason?

Tell your worker that you have a good reason for not meeting the work rules and that you need "good cause" and why. Also send DTA a note saying what your reason is. 

If DTA needs proof, it should mail you a Verification Checklist asking for proof to support your claim. If you need help getting proof and ask for help, your worker is required by law to help you.

What if DTA lowers or stops my benefits even though I said I have a good reason?

You can file an appeal asking for a hearing. Look on the back of the notice that says DTA is lowering or stopping your benefits. There should be an appeal form. Fill it out and send it to DTA's Division of Hearings right away. You can also file an appeal by phone. Contact your local Legal Services for help.

Learn more about How to appeal a DTA decision.  

What if I didn't tell DTA I have a good reason before I got a notice lowering or stopping my benefits?

You can tell DTA you have a good reason even after DTA sends you a sanction notice lowering or stopping your benefits. Send in an appeal of the notice. Also contact DTA to ask for Good Cause. If you need help, contact Legal Services.


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