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MRS. JOANN BOWEN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/03/75)

decided: September 3, 1975.

MRS. JOANN BOWEN, 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: Mrs. Joann Bowen, No. 78 676-C.

COUNSEL

Mark I. Weinstein, with him Louis M. Shucker, Alan Linder, and J. Richard Gray, for appellant.

Darius G. C. Moss, Assistant Attorney General, with him Barry A. Roth, Assistant Attorney General, and Marx S. Leopold, General Counsel, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 146]

In this appeal from an adjudication of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare (Department) Mrs. Joann Bowen (appellant) challenges the validity of Department regulations which establish that a portion of the income earned by legally responsible parents is presumed available to help meet the needs of their adult daughter who resides in the same dwelling unit.*fn1 The facts are not in dispute. The appellant, a public

[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 147]

    assistance recipient and a married adult under 21 years of age, lives with her one minor child in the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cardell, and with other family members, in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Prior to March 21, 1974 the appellant received for herself and her child a monthly grant of $220.00 along with medical assistance benefits under the state administered Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) public assistance program. On March 21, 1974 the Berks County Board of Assistance (Board) pursuant to the regulations now in question, notified the appellant that she would no longer receive medical assistance and that her $73.00 share of the public assistance grant would be terminated as of April 19, 1974. She appealed to the Department which upheld the Board. This appeal followed and we affirm.

Our scope of review of decisions of the Department of Public Welfare relating to the payment of public assistance funds is limited by the Administrative Agency Law to a determination of whether the adjudication was in accordance with law, constitutional rights were violated and whether all necessary findings of fact were supported by substantial evidence. Earley v. Department of Public Welfare, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 17, 317 A.2d 677 (1974). The AFDC program in Pennsylvania is financed in large part through federal grants in aid. The program must therefore be operated in conformity with the Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 601, et seq. and with the regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare pursuant to his authority

[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 148]

    under 42 U.S.C. § 1302. Townsend v. Swank, 404 U.S. 282 (1971); Lewis v. Martin, 397 U.S. 552 (1970); Rosado v. Wyman, 397 U.S. 397 (1970); King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309 (1968).

One of the basic federal requirements for state plans is that the amount of money granted is to be based on the individual needs of the family. Each state, however, is free to establish its own "standard of need," i.e., that amount of money which it feels a family of a particular size requires to survive, and each state may pay that percentage of the unmet need of individual families which it feels it can afford. The Department has set forth certain standards by which this Commonwealth determines need and includes, in part, consideration of income which is otherwise available to the recipient from legally responsible relatives. Pa. Manual Section 3237.322. Section 3237.322 provides generally that legally responsible relatives, here the recipient's parents, can be expected to contribute to the income of a recipient, whether or not living with the relative, in an amount calculated by an income scale set forth within the regulation. According to this scale the expected monthly contribution of the recipient's parents was at least $75.00. Regulation Section 3234.6 provides that in cases where the recipient is actually living in the dwelling of his or her legally responsible relatives, the amount of expected contribution is assumed to be available to meet the recipient's needs even though no actual cash contribution may be made in fact. Under the regulations, therefore, the ...


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