87. What are my rights if DTA won't give me benefits, or reduces or stops my benefits?
If DTA denies benefits, or stops or lowers your benefits, you can ask for a "fair hearing." A fair hearing is a formal meeting at the local DTA office or a formal telephone or video conference. A hearings officer runs the hearing and decides who is right. 106 C.M.R. § 343.110.
You can ask for a fair hearing to challenge any DTA decision or action you disagree with. You can also challenge DTA’s failure to act. 106 C.M.R. § 343.230.
Most DTA notices have a form on the back which you can use to request a fair hearing. See Question 89 for more on how to file an appeal and Appendix G for a copy of the DTA “Request for a Fair Hearing” form. Appendix I lists the local legal services offices that may be able to advise or represent you.
You can appeal most actions DTA takes. For example, you can appeal if:
- DTA denies your application for any reason, including because the Disability Evaluation Service decides you are not disabled or because DTA decides you have too much income or assets;
- DTA denies or ignores your request for emergency services;
- DTA denies or ignores a request to correct an EAEDC underpayment. See Question 68 regarding underpayments;
- DTA does not increase your EAEDC (for example, when your income goes down or you have;
- DTA denies or ignores your request to accommodate your disability.
You can ask for a hearing if the worker says you've been denied but never sends you written notice. You can also ask for a hearing if the worker just ignores your request.
Cuts, overpayments or terminations
In most situations, DTA must give you at least 10 days advance notice before your benefits are stopped or reduced. You can ask for a hearing if your benefits are stopped or reduced or if DTA says you were overpaid. See Question 88 on whether you can keep your benefits while you are waiting for a hearing decision. You can also reapply for benefits while you are waiting for a hearing.
Worker bad conduct
You can ask for a hearing if your worker threatens you, makes unreasonable demands that do not follow the rules, violates your privacy, or doesn't treat you with dignity and respect. 106 C.M.R. § 343.235.