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Massachusetts disability benefits

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits in Massachusetts

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
May 24, 2024  ·  2 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard-trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience and has helped over 50,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.

See if you qualify

If you live in Massachusetts and can no longer work due to a medical condition, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), more than 195,000 people in Massachusetts receive disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) programs. 

Read on to learn about the disability programs available and their eligibility requirements, so you can take the first steps toward receiving the financial support you need.


How to qualify for benefits in Massachusetts

To determine your eligibility for disability benefits, the SSA follows a five-step process.

  1. Substantial gainful activity: You are ineligible for disability benefits if the SSA determines you are engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA), or work in exchange for payment. In 2024, the SSA considers $1,550 or more per month to be SGA.

  2. Severity of impairment: Your disability must significantly impair your ability to perform basic work activities for at least 12 months.

  3. SSA’s disability criteria: The SSA's Blue Book lists medical conditions that qualify for benefits. If your condition isn't listed, you’ll need to provide detailed medical evidence proving your disability prevents you from working.

  4. Past work evaluation: The SSA assesses whether or not you are able to perform any of your previous work duties given your current medical condition.

  5. Ability to adjust to other work: The SSA looks at your medical condition, age, education, past work experience, and transferable skills to determine whether or not you are capable of other types of work.


How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance

You will need to meet several requirements to qualify for SSDI:

  • Disability: You must be disabled according to the SSA's criteria, meaning you meet its requirements for the disability’s duration and for SGA.

  • Duration of disability: Your disability must be expected to last at least one year or be so severe that it’s expected to result in death.

  • Work credits: You must have a certain number of work credits, which you earn by working and paying Social Security taxes. Usually, the SSA requires 40 work credits, and you have to have earned at least 20 of those in the last 10 years. In other words, you must have worked for at least five of the last 10 years.


How to Qualify for Social Security Income

SSI is based on your financial need rather than your work history. To qualify for SSI in Massachusetts, you must meet these criteria:

  • Medical eligibility: You must be disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old.

  • Asset limits: If you’re single, your countable resources must be below $2,000. For married couples, this limit is $3,000.

  • Income restrictions: Your total monthly income must be below the federal benefit rate — in 2024, this rate is $943.


What is the five-year rule for Social Security?

The “five-year rule” for Social Security disability benefits is a guideline that looks at your work history to determine your eligibility for SSDI. You are likely to qualify for SSDI if you've worked at least five of the past 10 years.


What conditions qualify for benefits in Massachusetts?

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits in Massachusetts, your medical condition must significantly impair your ability to work and be expected to last at least a year. These are the most commonly approved conditions in Massachusetts:

  • Mental disorders: 49.9%

  • Musculoskeletal system disorders: 22.3%

  • Nervous system disorders: 8.8%

  • Circulatory system diseases: 4.3%

  • Neoplasms (cancers): 2.7%


Most approved conditions in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, mental disorders are the most frequently approved disability. These include conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.


How much are disability benefits in Massachusetts?

In 2024, the maximum payment amount for SSDI is $3,822 per month. SSI beneficiaries cannot receive more than $943 per month. In Massachusetts, the average SSDI payment amount for disabled workers is $1,834 each month. The average payment for SSI beneficiaries is $604 per month. 


Do I need a disability lawyer in Massachusetts?

The SSA does not require you to hire a disability lawyer — however, you are three times more likely to win your case when you do.

A lawyer can help:

  • Complete your disability application. A disability lawyer will ensure that you’ve provided all the necessary information and that it’s accurate.

  • Gather medical records. A disability lawyer will help you collect comprehensive medical evidence to support your claim.

  • File an appeal. A disability lawyer will assist you with the appeals process if your initial application is denied.

  • Prepare you for a disability hearing. A disability lawyer will help you get ready for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

  • Represent you at the hearing. A disability lawyer will advocate on your behalf during the hearing.

Hire a great disability lawyer in Massachusetts

SSA offices in Massachusetts

For in-person assistance with your disability application or any Social Security-related inquiries, you can visit one of the SSA offices located throughout Massachusetts.

Attleboro

106 Pleasant St 

Attleboro, MA 02703

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (888) 655-6469

Fax Number: (833) 926-1854

Boston

10 Causeway St Rm 148

Boston, MA 02222

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (866) 964-7311

Fax Number: (833) 515-0457

Brockton

30 Christy Dr

Brockton, MA 02301

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (888) 717-1524

Fax Number: (833) 902-2518

Cambridge

10 Fawcett St 1St Flr

Cambridge, MA 02138

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (888) 527-9340

Fax Number: (833) 515-0461

Dorchester

115 Freeport St

Dorchester, MA 02122

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (866) 931-2550

Fax Number: (833) 926-1845

East Falmouth

48 Research Rd Technology Park

East Falmouth, MA 02536

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (855) 881-0212

Fax Number: (833) 950-3254

Fall River

400 North Main St 

Fall River, MA 02720

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (866) 964-3967

Fax Number: (833) 902-2524

Fitchburg

881 Main St 1St Floor Philbin Fed Bldg

Fitchburg, MA 01420

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Phone Number: (877) 319-0728

Fax Number: (833) 902-2520

See all SSA offices in Massachusetts


Get help applying for benefits in Massachusetts

If you’re a Massachusetts resident applying for disability benefits, we’re here to assist you. Start by taking our two-minute quiz to assess your eligibility. Afterward, a member of our team will reach out to gather more information about your case and provide guidance.

If you want, we can also connect you with a disability lawyer who can simplify the application process. With Atticus, there are no upfront costs — you only pay your lawyer a one-time fee when you win your benefits. Get started today and increase your chances of securing the support you need.

Frequently asked questions about disability in Massachusetts

What qualifies you for disability in Massachusetts?

To qualify for disability you need to have a condition that prevents you from working for at least a year. You’ll also need to meet certain work history requirements (for SSDI) or be within certain income limits (for SSI). For more on these requirements, read our full write up here.

What conditions qualify for disability in Massachusetts?

Any condition that will prevent you from working for a year or more can qualify for disability benefits. Some of the most common conditions include musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, nervous system diseases, and circulatory system diseases. See our full list of conditions that qualify here.

How long does it take to get approved for disability in Massachusetts?

It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Massachusetts. Most people who apply are initially rejected, and need to appeal this decision. If you appeal and go to a hearing, the process takes just over two years on average. Read more: How Long It Takes to Get Approved for Disability Benefits

How much does disability pay in Massachusetts?

The average SSDI payment in Massachusetts is $1,366.75 per month. The average SSI payment is $620.78. What you’ll earn depends on your income, or the amount you’ve historically paid into the Social Security program. Read more on what amount you can expect.

How should I prepare my disability application in Massachusetts?

Answer the application questions truthfully, consistently, and succinctly. You should also ensure that you gather and submit all your medical records with your application. The SSA paperwork can be complicated, so our legal team has written a full guide to the application here.

Does Massachusetts have a state disability program?

No, Massachusetts doesn't have its own state disability program. Only five states have a state program (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). Residents of Massachusetts can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.

Related resources:

Massachusetts Disability Benefits

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By Jackie Jakab

SSA Offices in Massachusetts

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab

See what you qualify for

How long has your condition made it hard to work?

Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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