Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of: Mrs. Mildred Cuffee, 1005 Hunt Terrace, Chester, Pennsylvania, Case No. 62341-D.
Richard S. Packel, Delaware County Legal Assistance Association, for appellant.
Barry A. Roth, Assistant Attorney General, with him Marx S. Leopold, General Counsel, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
This is an appeal from an adjudication and order of the Department of Public Welfare ("DPW") denying appellant's request for an increase in her assistance benefits.
The appellant and her son, Otis, lived in a public housing development in Chester. The appellant received an income of $126.20 per month, consisting of a military allotment of $100.00 and a public assistance supplement of $26.20. This grant was based on a shelter allowance of $41.20, a food, clothing and incidentals allowance of $65.00, and a medical transportation grant of $20.00. Otis does not receive public assistance, but is paid Social Security benefits of $120.00 per month. The appellant pays a monthly rent of $82.40, but her monthly shelter allowance was only half that amount, because DPW Regulation 3211.31*fn1 provides that the shelter allowance will be reduced proportionately for all non-assistance persons living with the assistance recipient. The appellant requested that DPW increase her shelter allowance, arguing that the benefits Otis received could not be used for shelter and that Regulation 3211.31 was unconstitutional because DPW thereby treated recipients living in public housing differently than it did those living in private housing. Following a hearing, the Hearing Examiner denied the requested increase. DPW upheld the Examiner and adopted his findings of facts and conclusions of law. The appellant thereafter brought this appeal.
The DPW Order was issued on October 4, 1971. On November 1, 1971, the appellant's counsel filed an appeal form with this Court, which was returned to him with the notification that it was improperly filed without an accompanying statement of exceptions, and that the filing fee forwarded with it was insufficient. On November 12, 1971, the appellant filed a new notice of appeal, attached a statement of exceptions and enclosed
the proper filing fee. The appellant failed, however, to notify DPW of the appeal. DPW has now asked us to quash this appeal, and for the reasons stated below, we must grant this request.
Appeals from DPW are governed by the Administrative Agency Law, Act of June 4, 1945, P.L. 1388, as amended, 71 P.S. § 1710.1, et seq. Prior to 1970, when the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, 17 P.S. § 211.101, et seq., was adopted, it was clear that Section 42 of the Administrative Agency Law, 71 P.S. § 1710.42, provided that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure should apply to appeals taken under that Act. With the adoption of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, however, the first sentence of Section 42 of the Administrative Agency Law, which so provided, was specifically repealed. At the same time, Section 502(e) of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, 17 P.S. § 211.502(e) provided that "Appeals and petitions for allowance of appeal shall be filed in such office and in such form as may be prescribed by general rule or rule of court." Also, Section 102(a)(4) of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, 17 P.S. § 211.102(a)(4) defined the term "general rule" as ". . . a rule or order promulgated by or pursuant to the authority of the Supreme Court." It seems clear, therefore, that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically including Rule No. 4 which governs appeals from administrative agencies, come within this definition, and we must hold, therefore, that such appeals must meet the ...