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WILLIAM COOPER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/17/79)

decided: April 17, 1979.

WILLIAM COOPER, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of In Re: Appeal of William Cooper, dated September 28, 1977.

COUNSEL

Michael J. Campbell, with him Dana M. Breslin, for petitioner.

Edward P. Carey, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 45]

William Cooper (Appellant) brings this appeal from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) affirming the decision of the Delaware County Board of Assistance denying Appellant's application for Emergency Fuel Assistance (EFA). The only issue Appellant raises for our consideration is whether DPW gave sufficient priority to the elderly in disbursing EFA funds as mandated by the Community Services Administration (CSA) pursuant to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2809(a)(12). For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

In 1977, $200 million in Special Crisis Intervention Program funds became available to relieve the burden of energy cost on the poor or near-poor. Priority in dispensing funds was to be given to "eligible elderly persons (age 65 and over)." 42 Fed. Reg. 33240. Federal regulations provided a two pronged test of

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 46]

    eligibility for EFA funds: income eligibility and program eligibility. Id. at 33247. We are concerned, here, only with the former. Only households with income no higher than 125% of the CSA poverty guideline could be assisted. In the case of a one person household (Appellant's situation), the maximum federal eligibility level was $3,713. Id. at 33247. Federal regulations also make clear, however, that the governor of any state could reduce the income eligibility ceilings because of limitations on available funds.

Pennsylvania did choose to lower the income eligibility ceilings. 7 Pa. Bull. 2139. The Commonwealth's income ceiling for a one person household was $3,000 per annum. It is undisputed that Appellant's income for the year in question was $3,414. Clearly, Appellant's income exceeded the Commonwealth's ceiling notwithstanding the fact that it was less than the maximum federal income eligibility figure of $3,713 per annum.

We hold that DPW's income ceiling was authorized by the Federal law and that Appellant's income level rendered him ineligible for EFA benefits.

Concerning Appellant's contention that DPW failed to give sufficient priority to the elderly, we note initially that the DPW regulations clearly recognized the federally mandated priority of funds for all eligible elderly persons. Since Appellant here was not eligible, he was not entitled to priority under the DPW regulations notwithstanding the fact that he is an elderly person. Appellant then attacks the DPW regulations arguing that even though they satisfy Federal law as to uniformity and income limits, they do not give priority to the elderly as a matter of fact. While the argument is not totally without merit, we must ...


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