The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

61. When and How Is a Hearing Decision Made?

You should receive a hearing decision within 2 to 4 weeks. Federal law requires timely decisions, 42 USC § 503(a)(1), and, under state law, DUA must make reasonable efforts to render a decision within 45 days of the request for hearing. G.L. c. 151A, § 39(b).

The decision must meet the requirements of the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act, including that it must be based on “substantial evidence” and free from “error of law.” G.L. c. 30A, § 14(7).

“Substantial evidence” is evidence that “a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, taking into account whatever in the record detracted from its weight.” G.L. c. 30A, § 1(6). An “error of law,” in the context of UI cases, is usually a misapplication of the statutory grounds for disqualification. See Guarino v. Director of the Div. of Employment Security, 393 Mass. 89, 92–94, 469 N.E.2d 802, 804–05 (1984). The decision must also contain adequate subsidiary findings of fact as to each critical issue. McDonald v. Director of the Div. of Employment Security, 396 Mass. 468, 487 N.E.2d 186 (1986), otherwise the court is “unable to determine whether the department’s order is supported by sound reasoning and fact finding.”  NSTAR Electric Co. v. Dep’t of Public Utilities, 462 Mass. 381, 386, 986 N.E. 2d 895, 900 (2012).

Physical evidence, such as documents or video evidence, must be admitted into the record to constitute substantial and credible evidence. BR-158008 (6/30/15). Testimony about what a witness saw when watching a video, unsupported by the video itself and without the claimant’s having had an opportunity to present his own testimony about its contents, does not constitute substantial and credible evidence. BR-10222139 (3/25/15)