Appeals from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of Appeal of Lester Scott, No. 8687-C, and Appeal of Charles Waltz, No. 8927-C, dated August 29, 1977.
Paul D. Welch, with him Virginia S. Criste, and Gregory Paulson, for petitioners.
Edward P. Carey, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, DiSalle and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Judge MacPhail dissents.
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The narrow issue presented by this case is whether the Perry County Board of Assistance (CBA) committed agency error in denying the requests of Lester Scott and Charles Waltz (Petitioners) for a retroactive one-time grant for medical transportation costs.
The families of both Petitioners have been receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children through the CBA -- the Scotts since July 1975, and the Waltzes since November, 1974. Both families have had on-going medical problems requiring them to travel substantial distances to receive medical treatment. As reflected by entries in their case history records, it is undisputed that the CBA was aware of the medical treatment being received by the several family members. Nevertheless, both Petitioners complain that they were not informed that they could apply for and
[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 423]
receive reimbursement for medical transportation expenses.
In 1977, both Petitioners became aware for the first time that transportation costs were reimbursable. Consequently, on May 10, 1977, Petitioner Scott requested allowances for the costs of medical transportation; Petitioner Waltz made a similar request on June 6, 1977. These requests were granted only for expenses covering the period thirty days prior thereto. Asserting that they were entitled to a one-time grant for medical transportation expenses from the date of their initial eligibility for assistance, both Petitioners submitted requests for a fair hearing. The two cases were consolidated, and the hearing was held on July 26, 1977. In the adjudication and order, dated August 29, 1977, the Hearing Officer denied both requests for retroactive medical transportation allowances. The instant appeals followed.
The regulations promulgated by the Department of Public Welfare state that it is the responsibility of the CBA to provide "information on the services and benefits available from the Department." 55 Pa. Code § 121.3(a)(2)(iii); see Travis v. Department of Public Welfare, 2 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 110, 277 A.2d 171, aff'd, 445 Pa. 622, 284 A.2d 727 (1971). To implement this, the CBA, through its caseworkers, must discuss with the client " in a meaningful way the services and requirements of the agency." (Emphasis added.) 55 Pa. Code § 125.24(b)(2). In addition, at the redetermination interview, which is held every six months, a review of any "special need items" must be made. 55 Pa. Code § 133.23(a)(2)(ii)(E). A transportation allowance for necessary medical care is included as one of these special need items. 55 Pa. Code § 175.23(b)(2).
In a case such as the instant one, where Petitioners are seeking a retroactive ...