Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Antoinette and Joseph Sloneem, dated November 4, 1977.
Niles Schore, for petitioners.
Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 423]
Petitioners contend that reduction of their September 1977 assistance payments by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) in a total amount of $74.30, to reflect wages earned from July 28, 1977 to August 12, 1977, was improper because assistance was their only income at the time they received the reduced assistance checks.
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 424]
The Department asserts that it did no more than adjust the assistance to reflect non-recurring earned income; Petitioners argue that the Department's action was a recoupment of assistance.
After petitioner, Joseph Sloneem, informed the Department that he had begun working at the end of July, the Department sent him a notice on August 1 that, beginning August 18, 1977, the family's monthly grant would be adjusted to reflect his earnings. However, his employment terminated unexpectedly on August 12, and he promptly informed the county welfare office.
In the usual procedure, had Joseph Sloneem continued to work, the assistance checks beginning on August 18 would have been reduced to reflect the income earned.*fn1 Thus, if the unexpected cessation of work had been handled in the usual way, after the reduced second August check had been paid, a deficiency grant would have been authorized to compensate for the unexpected cessation of income and the September 6 check restored to the full amount of $151.00.
However, due to a departmental error, the Sloneems received their second August check in the full amount. Then, to reflect the earned income which had unexpectedly ceased, the Department reduced the two September checks by treating his earnings as non-recurring income; the Sloneem's checks of September 6 and September 20 were lowered by applying § 183.23(c)(2) of the Pennsylvania Assistance Eligibility Manual (PAEM), 55 Pa. Code § 183.23(c)(2), which reads in part:
A decrease in income, actual or estimated, will affect eligibility beginning with the first regular payment ...