The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

19. If I can do more than sedentary work and the Grid says I am disabled, how does DES assess my disability (Step 4)?

ALERT:  Many of the rules in the TAFDC/EAEDC Advocacy Guide do NOT apply during the pandemic. Please go to the following COVID-19 & DTA benefits page: until further notice for more information about changes.

If you are physically able to do more than sedentary work, DES determines whether there is a significant amount of full-time work in the Northeast economy that you could do even with your impairments. 106 C.M.R. § 703.193(C)(6).

In deciding if you are disabled at Step 4, DES is supposed to consider:

  • full-time jobs that exist in the Northeast only (a possible factory job in the South doesn't count);
  • your "functional capacity" (what you can do physically and for how long, and what your condition prevents you from doing);
  • your age, and how it affects your ability to adjust to changes in the work routine or environment;
  • your education, including formal education, training and literacy;
  • your ability to read, speak and understand English;
  • any work skills you have that you could use in a job (known as "transferable skills"); and
  • how long since you finished school or training or since you last worked.

DES uses vocational experts to review this information. If there is not a significant amount of work that you can do based on these factors, DES must find you disabled. 

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