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MARY REICHENBACH BUCK v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/19/77)

decided: October 19, 1977.

MARY REICHENBACH BUCK, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT. CAROL LUNGER, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Orders of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of In Re: Appeal of Mary Reichenbach Buck, Order dated July 28, 1976; and In Re: Appeal of Carol Lunger, Order dated August 9, 1976.

COUNSEL

Niles Schore, with him Justina M. Wasicek, for petitioners.

Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

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

Author: Rogers

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 196]

We have consolidated for argument and disposition the appeals of Carol Lunger and Mary Reichenbach Buck from determinations of the Department of Public Welfare; in the Lunger case, denying, and in Buck, terminating, public assistance. Lunger applied for public assistance for herself and dependent children on July 7, 1975. Although the notice sent her the same day is in question as we will discuss later, she was in fact found eligible for aid on account of her dependent

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 197]

    children but ineligible on her own account. Buck was receiving public assistance and was given written notice on October 9, 1975 that her grant was terminated. It is averred by the appellant in each case that the action adverse to her with respect to her grant was based on the fact that a man who was not her husband shared her household.

Lunger did not appeal from the decision in her case until January 23, 1976, more than six months after the determination and Buck did not appeal the termination of her grant until December 4, 1975, almost two months after the action had been taken. In both cases, the appropriate officers of the Department of Welfare dismissed the appeals as untimely taken because Department of Welfare Regulation § 3590.1 validly provides that "an applicant or recipient must exercise his right of appeal within . . . (a). [t]hirty (30) days from the date of written notice. . . ."

Lunger and Buck pose two common questions. First, they point to Department Regulation § 3623 quoted in Lunger's brief as follows:

A one-time grant may be authorized only when: . . . A recipient has been underpaid because of a change in need or due to administrative error or delay. . . .

(b) . . . The PA 122 must be certified within 30 calendar days from the date of the underpayment with the following exceptions: . . . (3) An underpayment caused by agency error is discovered more than 30 calendar days from the date the underpayment began. Procedure for approval as in a. (1) and a. (2) above should be followed.

The appellants say that the decisions, one denying, the other terminating, public assistance because men not their husbands shared their household were erroneous under ...


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