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MARY LYNN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/20/78)

decided: September 20, 1978.

MARY LYNN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Board of Finance and Revenue in case of In Re: Mary M. Lynn, No. M-2952.

COUNSEL

Donald Driscoll, for petitioner.

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

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

Author: Mencer

[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 591]

This is an appeal by Mary Lynn (petitioner) from a decision of the Board of Finance and Revenue (Board) denying her petition for refund of $753 which was collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (Department) as reimbursement for interim assistance received by her pending receipt of Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 592]

Petitioner received general assistance from the Department for approximately two and one-half years before applying, in January of 1975, for SSI benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1385.*fn1 When she applied for SSI, petitioner agreed in writing to repay the amount of general assistance received pending the determination of her eligibility for SSI. On May 2, 1975, petitioner signed a new form, PA 176-S, entitled "Reimbursement Authorization," which authorized the Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Secretary) to make the first payment of SSI to the Department and authorized the Department to deduct therefrom the amount of interim assistance*fn2 and pay the balance to petitioner.

The stipulation of facts reveals that the first SSI check was sent to petitioner in July of 1975 and petitioner notified the Department that she had received the check. Thereafter, she was instructed to hold the check until contacted by a Department claims settlement agent. On July 15, 1975, an agent told petitioner that they must cash the check and that she must pay a portion of the proceeds to the Department.

[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 593]

After driving petitioner to the bank and home, the agent took the amount owed the Department for interim assistance, $753, returned the remainder, and gave petitioner a receipt. Subsequently, petitioner filed her petition for refund with the Board and appealed the Board's denial to this Court for a proceeding de novo.

Petitioner argues that she is entitled to a refund pursuant to Section 503(a) of The Fiscal Code (Code), Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 343, as amended, 72 P.S. § 503(a),*fn3 on the grounds that the Commonwealth is not "rightfully or equitably" entitled to the money collected by the Department out of her SSI check and not entitled to it under the authority of the United States Supreme Court decision in Philpott v. Essex County Welfare Board, 409 U.S. 413 (1973).

In Philpott, supra, the Supreme Court held that 42 U.S.C. § 407 prohibited the State from utilizing legal process in obtaining public assistance reimbursement out of a recipient's Social Security benefits, specifically the disability insurance benefits ...


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