Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Elizabeth Dempsey, dated June 16, 1978.
David G. Gates, for petitioner.
Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 122]
The narrow issue presented by this case is whether the Bucks County Board of Assistance (CAO) committed agency error in denying the request of Elizabeth Dempsey for a retroactive one-time grant of cash assistance benefits for herself and her minor daughter.*fn1
In a case such as this where a petitioner is seeking a retroactive one-time grant of assistance, a finding
[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 123]
of agency error is required before the hearing officer may authorize a retroactive payment. 55 Pa. Code § 227.24(d)(1)(i)(C). The hearing officer affirmed CAO's denial of benefits and dismissed Dempsey's appeal because she failed to provide requested financial statement forms indicating the amount of income, if any, which was available to her from Legally Responsible Relatives (LRR). In this case the fact that Dempsey's parents provided her and her minor daughter with room and board triggered an inquiry from the CAO as to the parents' financial wherewithall. The financial resources of her parents were crucial to a determination of whether she was eligible to receive public assistance and, if so, how much. The duty upon relatives to aide their indigent kinfolk is found in Section 3(a) of The Support Law,*fn2 which states:
The husband, wife, child (except as hereinafter provided), father and mother of every indigent person, whether a public charge or not, shall, if of sufficient financial ability, care for and maintain, or financially assist such indigent person. . . . (Emphasis added.)
That language, coupled with the mandates of The Public Welfare Code (62 P.S. § 101 et seq.) requires the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to grant assistance only to those persons who are without sufficient resources to maintain themselves. One of the considerations relevant to DPW's inquiry into the potential resources available to persons applying for assistance is the legal responsibility of relatives whose income and contributions to the applicant must be explored before benefits are granted.
The record discloses that the hearing officer's decision was based solely upon Dempsey's failure to provide that ...