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BETTY PRESCOTT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/06/78)

decided: June 6, 1978.

BETTY PRESCOTT, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT. SHIRLEY MESSNER, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT. BOBBIE BROWN, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Orders of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of Appeal of Betty Prescott, dated December 3, 1976; Appeal of Shirley Messner, dated December 9, 1976; and Appeal of Bobbie Brown, dated January 20, 1977.

COUNSEL

William C. Knapp, with him Thomas C. Reed and David G. Petonic, for petitioners.

Robert E. Kelly, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and DiSalle. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 36 Pa. Commw. Page 252]

Betty Prescott, Shirley Messner and Bobbie Brown (Petitioners) appeal the determination of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) in three separate decisions which were consolidated by Order of this Court because they present a common question of law.

[ 36 Pa. Commw. Page 253]

In each case, DPW determined that Petitioners were not entitled to incentive payments for assigning their child support orders to DPW for collection. The child support was to be offset against the amount each Petitioner received from DPW in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (A.F.D.C.) program. Due to DPW's delay, no portions of the support orders were actually collected by it and DPW held that since incentive payments could only be paid out of sums which it had actually collected, no money was owing to Petitioners.

In 1975, the Congress modified the A.F.D.C. program to require a recipient family to assign its right to child support to the state.*fn1 The states were required to actually collect these sums*fn2 and offset them against the amounts paid out in A.F.D.C.*fn3 In order to provide an incentive for A.F.D.C. families to assign their support orders and cooperate with the state's efforts to collect them, a cash incentive was provided. Each family could receive an additional payment over and above the A.F.D.C. to which it was entitled. This amounted to 40% of the first $50.00 in child support actually collected by the state.*fn4 The balance collected is used to reimburse the state and federal governments for the benefits paid out to the recipient family in the A.F.D.C. program.*fn5

As we have already noted, DPW failed to process the petitions assignment and consequently collected no money. For that reason, DPW held that it could not

[ 36 Pa. Commw. Page 254]

    pay any incentive payment because it was only authorized to make such payments out of sums actually collected. We agree and affirm DPW except in the case of Bobbie Brown, where a somewhat different fact pattern requires a remand to ascertain additional facts.

Even the most cursory reading of the applicable federal law demonstrates that it was the intent of the statute to reimburse recipient only for sums actually collected by the state. 42 U.S.C.A. ยง 654(11) states, "A state plan for child support must provide that amounts collected as child support shall be distributed ...


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