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HELEN SLEDGE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/26/79)

decided: June 26, 1979.

HELEN SLEDGE, 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 Helen Sledge, dated December 7, 1978.

COUNSEL

Margarita Navaroo, for petitioner.

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

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

Author: Blatt

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 554]

The appellant, Helen Sledge, appeals here from an order of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW).

The appellant and her two daughters are recipients of benefits under the program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Pursuant to a lower court support order, she also received support for the children from their father, which she was required to assign to the DPW. 42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(25) and 55 Pa. Code §§ 141.21, 187.23. She made this assignment in July of 1976. In September of 1976, one of her daughters became a recipient of public assistance benefits but that daughter was removed from the assistance rolls and the appellant reimbursed the DPW for that daughter's share of the public assistance benefits received. Since then, the DPW has been collecting and retaining the entire support payment. In 1977, the appellant requested a fair hearing from the DPW to determine whether or not it was properly retaining all of these support payments, and she sought to have the DPW split the amount of the court's support order into one-thirds of all future and back payments, claiming that any portion attributable to either daughter not receiving public assistance should not be retained by the DPW. The Hearing Examiner concluded that the DPW lacked the authority and jurisdiction to split the support order and to grant this relief. This appeal followed.

The appellant maintains that the DPW may not collect a portion of a court support order which is attributed solely to a child who is not a public assistance recipient. We agree.

The DPW Regulations specifically require:

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 555]

Assignment to the Department of all rights to support payments received due or accrued on Page 555} behalf of any family member for whom assistance is to be granted or is being received. . . . (Emphasis added.)

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(d)(1).

The DPW, therefore, should be collecting only the support payments received on behalf of a family member who is ...


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