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Learn about disability benefits

The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) doesn't administer disability benefits, but here we provide an overview of disability benefits programs from various sources.

Disability benefits are cash payments for people who can't work because of a disability.  You could receive disability benefits from a number of sources including the government, an insurance company,  and or an employer. We can help you identify resources.

Disability benefits from state government

From January 2021, the Department of Paid Family Medical leave offers a cash benefit to Massachusetts employees who need to take paid leave for medical or family reasons. Find out more at Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML).

Some employers offer short- or long-term disability insurance as a benefit to their employees. You should check with your human resources department to find out whether your employer offers this benefit and if you have previously enrolled in it. If you have private disability insurance through your employer, or that you've bought individually, typically it will require you to apply for any public benefits available. In conversations about disability insurance, if people are referring to "disability," they often mean PFML. 

The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) provides cash benefits to people with very low income and assets. If you are unable to work for at least 60 days due to a disabling condition, you may be eligible for one of their programs. 

Disability benefits from the federal government

The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays disability benefits to those who “have a physical or mental condition that prevents them from working and is expected to last at least a year or result in death.” The SSA uses a different definition to evaluate disabled children, who may also be eligible for disability cash benefits if their household has low income.
The 2 most common programs that offer benefits to those who qualify are:

  1. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program - If you’ve paid Social Security taxes long enough to achieve enough work credits, SSDI may be available to you. 
  2. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program - If you have limited income and assets, SSI may be available to you.

Cash assistance for pending Social Security claims

The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) offers emergency assistance to certain people who have very low income and assets.  While DTA does not provide disability benefits, people who are unable to work for a medical reason for at least 60 days may be eligible. DTA also runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program.

Disability benefits while pregnant

Private disability insurance carriers often cover employees who cannot work because of pregnancy.  Some employers offer short term disability insurance as a benefit to employees and some people purchase this disability insurance coverage privately.  While there are laws that protect employees who are pregnant, there is no government-based short term disability benefit for people who cannot work because of pregnancy.

The Department of Transitional Assistance administers Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), a state and federally funded program that provides cash assistance to families with children and pregnant women in the last 120 days of pregnancy who have little or no assets or income.

Verifying your disability income with a letter from the state

Massachusetts is one of the states that offers a supplementary payment to individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income benefits from the Social Security Administration. The state agency that administers the supplement is the Massachusetts State Supplement Program (SSP).

Contact SSP at (877) 863-1128.

Unable to attend a medical appointment for disability claim

The Social Security Administration uses Disability Determination Services (DDS) at Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to determine initial and continued eligibility for Social Security disability benefits programs. As part of their evaluation, they may require you to attend a medical appointment.

You may contact them at (800) 882-2040.

Further information

If you are following up on a benefit application or a letter you have received, please contact the source of the letter/benefit. 

The Social Security Administration administers Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Veterans Administration, private insurance carriers, and government pension systems also pay benefits to people with disabilities.

The Department of Transitional Assistance administers a number of Massachusetts benefits.

If you are interested in applying for benefits, you might also be interested in obtaining employment. There are vocational rehabilitation (VR) services offered by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB). The Client Assistance Program (CAP) provides confidential and neutral support for people who have questions and concerns about their VR services or their rights.