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MABEL GRIFFITH v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/12/79)

decided: April 12, 1979.

MABEL GRIFFITH, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Mabel H. Griffith, dated November 21, 1977.

COUNSEL

John D. Gibson, for petitioner.

Betty F. Perry, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Dissenting Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Rogers

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 614]

Mildred G. Bonaccorso, guardian of the estate of her mother, Mabel H. Griffith, an incompetent, has

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 615]

    appealed an order of the Department of Public Welfare sustaining the Bedford County Assistance Board's denial of her application for a grant of medical assistance for the nursing home care of her ward.

Mrs. Bonaccorso was appointed guardian of her mother's estate by the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in April 1975. At that time the estate had assets worth $30,800, consisting of real estate valued at $10,439, $14,717 in savings accounts, $5500 in proceeds of an insurance policy on the ward's deceased husband's life and an automobile worth $150. Mrs. Griffith's net income from Social Security and the Veterans' Administration and rents seems to have been about $325 a month. Mrs. Bonaccorso's application for a grant for medical assistance for her mother was made in December 1976, twenty months after she became guardian possessed of the assets just mentioned. The County Assistance Board denied the application, pursuant to Section 177.83(b)(1) and (b)(2) of the Public Assistance Manual, 55 Pa. Code, ยง 177.83(b)(1) and (b)(2), because it found that Mrs. Griffith's estate still had $10,000 in personal property which disqualified her for medical assistance, available only to persons having resources of $1500 or less.

On appeal, the hearing yielded the following information incorporated in the Hearing Examiner's findings: The personal property available for Mrs. Griffith's support received by her guardian upon her appointment amounts to about $15,700. The net income received by the guardian from the date of her appointment until the date of her application for medical assistance was about $6500, making a total available for Mrs. Griffith's needs during that period of about $22,600. The guardian had paid the nursing home of her mother's residence about $12,000, leaving a balance of assets remaining in excess of about $10,600. This, less some other expenses claimed by the guardian

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 616]

    and allowed by the County Board of Assistance, is the balance of $10,000 which the Board had decided was still available. It was also disclosed that Mrs. Bonaccorso had transferred to herself or to herself and her husband all of the remaining personal assets of the estate. This, Mrs. Bonaccorso argued, showed that her mother had no resources available for her medical care. She justified the transfer as payments of two claims against her mother: the first, in the amount of $4400, for care assertedly provided by her to both her parents during the period July 1970 until March 1975, a period before she was appointed guardian; and the second, in the amount of $7447.65, for her and her husband's living expenses from March 1975 until October 1976, to which they said they were entitled because they had moved from New York State to Bedford County to care for Mrs. Griffith.

The Hearing Examiner, whose order became the Department's Final Administration Action, upheld the County Board's decision denying the grant. This was ...


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