DALA Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to common questions about DALA hearings and processes.

Table of Contents

Q.  What is the deadline for filing appeals that are heard by DALA? 

A.  Where you file an appeal and the deadline will vary depending on the matter being appealed.  The agency decision you wish to appeal will state where to file the appeal and describe the deadline. 

For example, retirement appeals are filed directly with DALA, while appeals from Department of Public Health actions disciplining emergency medical technicians or certified nurse aides are filed with the Department of Public Health.  Appeals from wage and hour citations issued by the Attorney General must be filed both with DALA and with the Attorney General.

Read the document you received carefully to determine how much time you have to file an appeal.  The document will tell you not only how many days you have to file an appeal, but also when that time period starts to run.  Usually, the time period runs from either the date the agency sent you its decision or the date you received it.  Again, read carefully so that you know what your deadline is.  

Q.  What must I include in my appeal?

At a minimum, you appeal should list your name and address, state that you are appealing a particular agency action, and include a copy of the action being appealed.  You may include a more lengthy description of the reason for your appeal, if you wish, but more importantly, you must make sure your appeal is timely, because otherwise DALA will not have jurisdiction to hear it.

If you send in your appeal by U.S. Mail (but not other mail services), DALA will consider the postmark date to be the date the appeal is filed.  

Q.  I have a disability.  Is DALA accessible?

A.  Yes.  DALA’s hearing rooms and restrooms are ADA-compliant and accessible by wheelchair.  Please inform DALA as early as possible about any additional accommodations you may need.

Q.  I have difficulty with English (or a witness on my behalf does).  Can DALA provide me with an interpreter?

A.  Yes.  DALA can arrange for a telephonic interpreting service (Language Line) to assist you or your witnesses during DALA’s hearings and conferences.  The interpreting service can accommodate a large variety of languages.  Please inform DALA about your need for an interpreter as early as possible, specifying the language you need.

Q.  I need legal advice.  Can DALA help me?

A.  No.  DALA serves as a neutral adjudicator of disputes between state agencies and private parties.  DALA’s magistrates and staff members are not authorized to provide legal advice to anyone.  For some resources that do offer legal assistance, see Finding legal help.

Q.  Do I need a lawyer?

A.  You are permitted but not required to be represented by a lawyer in proceedings before DALA.  If you do not have a lawyer, you may appear on your own behalf (“pro se”), or you may appoint a non-lawyer to represent you.  For more Information about representing yourself at DALA, see Representing yourself at DALA.

Q.  How do I appeal from a rate of payment established by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services?

A.  Please file your notice of appeal by mail.  The notice of appeal must include the name, address, and contact information of both the appealing facility and its representative.  A separate notice of appeal must be filed on behalf of each facility.  Along with your notice of appeal, you must include a copy of the aggrieving rate determination.  You also must include a check made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of the filing fee, which is $2 per bed.  For example, if the facility has 100 beds, the filing fee is $200.  You must send a complete copy of the notice of appeal to EOHHS.

Q  Is a fee charged to file an appeal at DALA?

A.  At present, the only fees charged are in nursing-home rate-setting appeals, with a fee of $2 per bed as described above, and in appeals from fair labor citations issued by the Attorney General.  In fair labor appeals, the fee is $200 per citation.  Thus, if an appeal is from four citations, the fee is $800.  If the person appealing does not wish to appeal each citation, the appeal should state which citations are being appealed and submit the fee appropriate to the number of citations actually being appealed. 

Fair labor citations may charge both a company and certain officials of the company.  If one appeal is filed by a single representative on behalf of multiple charged parties, there is no extra fee because of the multiple parties involved.  But if, for example, the company and the individuals file separate appeals, then each will have to pay a fee.

Q.  Where can I read prior DALA decisions?

A.  DALA posts some of its decisions at General Jurisdiction Decisions.  A larger collection of DALA decisions is available in the Social Law Library’s Research Databases.  Even if you are not a member of the Social Law Library, you can access these databases for free at any Massachusetts public library.

Q.  How do I file documents relating to my case?

A.  You may file most documents by mail, fax, or email (dalapleadings@mass.gov).  If your submission is more than 20 pages long, please mail DALA a copy.  Individual magistrates may require you to file paper copies of certain other documents.  Every document submitted to DALA must identify the case name and docket number. 

Also, every document submitted to DALA must include a certification that a copy of the document has been provided to the opposing party’s representative.  If you do not certify that the document has been copied to the opposing party, the docket clerk will return your submission.  You will then need to resubmit the documents with the proper certification.   

Q.  I have been ordered to file a prehearing memorandum in a retirement appeal.  What do I need to do?  Do I also need to file exhibits?

A.  You will need to file a memorandum that describes the facts pertinent to the retirement benefit you seek and a brief explanation as to why you believe you are legally entitled to this benefit.  If you are seeking a Group 2 classification for work you have performed with prisoners or the mentally ill, you will need to describe what work you do that involves direct care, custody, instruction, or supervision of such individuals.  If you are seeking disability retirement, you will likely need to file all the documents connected to your application and pertinent medical records.  For more information, see Prehearing orders in retirement appeals.

You should also file as exhibits any relevant documents you wish DALA to consider.  While you may have filed many documents when applying to your retirement board for a benefit, DALA will likely have only your appeal.

Q.  How long will it take until my hearing takes place?  How long will it take until I receive a decision?

A.  The length of the appeal process varies widely from case to case.  During 2021, the average DALA case was resolved in 130 days.  However, cases that proceed to evidentiary hearings typically take much longer. 

If you are appealing from a decision of a retirement board, given the volume of such appeals, you may not hear from DALA about your hearing for a little over a year.  DALA will send you an acknowledgement so that you know that your appeal has been received and will be handled in the order in which it was received.

Q.  Can I compel a witness to appear at my hearing?  Can I compel a witness to provide documents to me?

A.  As a party to a proceeding before DALA, you are entitled to subpoenas, which are formal orders requiring witnesses to testify or to produce documents.  For more information, see Subpoenas in administrative proceedings.

Q.  Will my hearing be held in person or remotely (by videoconference)?

A. DALA is now conducting both in-person and remote hearings.  You may request either option, and DALA will accommodate your request to the extent possible.  You may make your request either in writing or at the pre-hearing conference, if one is held in your case.

Q.  Are there any special rules for remote hearings?

A.  Individual magistrates may provide you with specific instructions for remote hearings before them.  At a minimum, you will need access to a computer that has video and audio capability.

Q.  What happens after the hearing is over?

A.  During the hearing, the magistrate may instruct the parties to file written briefs describing their final arguments.  Once you have filed your brief (or if the magistrate does not request briefs), you will need to wait until you receive a copy of the magistrate’s decision, which may arrive either by mail or by email.

Q.  How do I order a copy of the recording of my hearing?

A.  Instructions for ordering a copy of the recording are available at Request a recording of your Hearing.

Q.  I no longer wish to pursue my appeal.  What should I do?

A.  You may withdraw your appeal at any time by informing DALA in writing (not by telephone) that you wish to do so.  Remember to include the case name and docket number on your submission.  Other than that, all you need to write is, “I wish to withdraw my appeal.”

Q.  What will happen if I ignore correspondence relating to my appeal or fail to attend a hearing or conference?

A.  In such circumstances, the appeal may be decided against you on a procedural basis, no matter what the facts that led to the appeal may be.

Q.  How do I appeal from DALA’s decision?

A.  Either DALA’s decision or an accompanying cover letter will provide you with instructions on how to appeal from DALA’s decision.  The instructions will vary depending on your type of case.  The deadlines that govern appeals from DALA’s decisions typically cannot be extended for any reason.

As an example, appeals from DALA’s decisions in retirement cases must be mailed to the Contributory Retirement Appeals Board (CRAB) within 15 days of the date of the DALA decision.  CRAB’s address is Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, Office of the Attorney General, One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor, Boston, MA 02108.

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