Appeal from the Order of the Board of Finance and Revenue in case of In Re: Inell and Eddie Dumas, No. M-2691.
Jonathan M. Stein, for appellant.
Linda S. Lichtman, Deputy Attorney General, with her Donald J. Murphy, Deputy Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 397]
This is an appeal from a dismissal by the Board of Finance and Revenue (Board) of appellants', Inell Dumas' and Eddie Dumas', petition for refund of
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 398]
certain social security benefits received by appellants but subsequently paid to the Department of Public Welfare (Department) as reimbursement for previously granted public assistance.
The facts are stipulated. In 1971, Eddie Dumas became unable to work due to severe arthritis and thus qualified for and received public assistance benefits from the Department totaling $1,803.40 for the period of December 20, 1971 through August 22, 1973. Mr. Dumas also applied for social security disability benefits and on October 6, 1972, in accordance with Department regulations, executed Form 176-K which effected an assignment of such benefits to the Department in an amount sufficient to reimburse the Department for any public assistance benefits paid to Mr. Dumas while awaiting his social security disbursements. In 1973, Mr. Dumas received a lump sum, retroactive, social security award of approximately $2,200 and promptly notified the Department of its receipt. A Department claims settlement agent came to Mr. Dumas' home in late June, 1973 and collected $1,000 from the lump sum award pursuant to the reimbursement claim. Mr. Dumas had no legal counsel at this time and neither knew nor was informed by the claims agent that under Philpott v. Essex County Welfare Board, 409 U.S. 413 (1973), which was decided January 10, 1973, the reimbursement agreement was not legally enforceable.
On October 31, 1975, more than two years after he paid $1,000 to the Department, Mr. Dumas filed a petition for refund. The Board dismissed the petition for want of jurisdiction, on the ground that the appellants had not proceeded within the two years statute of limitations of Section 503(a) of The Fiscal Code (Code), Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 343, as amended, 72 P.S. § 503(a). The appellants contend that the proper statutory limitation is the five year period provided
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 399]
by Section 503(a)(4) of the Code, 72 P.S. § 503(a)(4). We agree with appellants and reverse.
In Coshey v. Beal, 27 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 440, 366 A.2d 1295 (1976), we held that the Board is the proper forum in which to seek refunds in the circumstances of this case. Section 503(a) of the Code requires that a petition for refund of moneys paid to the Commonwealth "must be filed with the ...