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KATIE MASON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/26/74)

decided: March 26, 1974.

KATIE MASON, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Katie Mason, No. E177,859-C.

COUNSEL

Judd F. Crosby, with him Michael A. Nemec, for appellant.

Darius G. C. Moss, Assistant Attorney General, with him Marx S. Leopold, Assistant Attorney General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr. and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 539]

This is an appeal from an adjudication and order of the Department of Public Welfare (Department) withholding the payment of public assistance benefits. The Department requested Katie Mason (appellant) to sign a Public Assistance Form 176-K, captioned as an Agreement and Authorization to Pay Claim. Appellant refused to sign the form and as a result thereof she received a notice from the Department dated April 26, 1973 stating that beginning May 29, 1973 her 14-year-old daughter, Kim Mason, would be removed from the assistance grant and the 2-week grant for herself and six children would be lowered from $137.80 to $114.07. Appellant is separated from her husband.

Kim Mason was injured in an automobile accident on October 27, 1970. A settlement for her personal injuries was approved by the Court of Common Pleas of

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 540]

Allegheny County and, by order of that court under date of March 21, 1973, the sum of $4,666.67 was distributed to "Claude Mason, Guardian for Kim Mason, a Minor, for Deposit in a Certificate's Deposit in the Dollar Savings Bank, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the name of the minor to be withdrawn only upon Order of Court or upon minor achieving her majority."

By an adjudication dated June 26, 1973, a Department Hearing Officer upheld the decision of the Allegheny County Board of Assistance to remove Kim Mason from the assistance grant paid to appellant because of appellant's refusal to sign the Department's form 176-K. This adjudication resulted in a reduction of appellant's food stamp allotment and the removal of Kim Mason from full medical assistance coverage.

The Department has a regulation*fn1 which requires assistance recipients who possess tort and workmen's compensation claims, who have the right to receive support payments, social security, unemployment, sick or retirement benefits, or who hold other similar types of personal property, to sign the Department's Form PA 176-K, which contains an assignment of these rights, claims, or property and a confession of judgment, as security for the promise to repay assistance payments.

This appeal is taken pursuant to the Administrative Agency Law, Act of June 4, 1945, P.L. 1388, 71 P.S. § 1710.1 et seq. Section 44 of that Act, 71 P.S. § 1710.44, provides that "[a]fter hearing, the court shall affirm the adjudication unless it shall find that the same . . . is not in accordance with law, . . . or that any finding of fact made ...


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