decided: October 18, 1979.
THOMAS D. EL, PETITIONER
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT
Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Thomas D. El, dated October 24, 1977.
No appearance for petitioner.
Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 517]
Petitioner had been receiving general assistance from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), a federally assisted program.
When petitioner's caseworker interviewed him for his six-month redetermination of eligibility for general
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 518]
assistance, petitioner refused to sign a DPW form which contained ethnic and citizenship data concerning himself. He also had failed to register with the Bureau of Employment Security for suitable work.
After due notice and a departmental hearing, DPW discontinued petitioner's assistance. He has appealed to this Court.
We preface our discussion with a summary of the pertinent state and federal regulations and statutes.
The United States Department of Justice has promulgated a regulation at 28 C.F.R. § 42.106(b) which requires that recipients of federal money, including Pennsylvania's DPW, have available for the Department of Justice "racial and ethnic data showing the extent to which members of minority groups are beneficiaries of federally assisted programs."*fn1
Section 432.2(c) of the Public Welfare Code (Code)*fn2 requires that DPW personnel periodically redetermine all elements of eligibility of any person receiving assistance. That section further specifies that "[t]he department shall require the completion of a continuing application form at the time of redetermination and the provisions of Section 432.15 shall be applicable to this subsection."*fn3
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 519]
To implement the federal regulation and Section 432.2(c) of the Code simultaneously, DPW has a regulation at Pennsylvania Public Assistance Manual (PAM) § 133.23(a)(iii) which requires a client, if seeking general assistance, to sign two specified forms at each interview to redetermine the client's eligibility; the redetermination interviews are to be held no less frequently than every six months. These forms contain ethnic and citizenship information on the client.*fn4
Thus, a threshold requirement to petitioner's continuing eligibility to receive assistance is his signature on DPW's form which contains racial and citizenship data.
Petitioner states the issue as "whether or not Moorish-Americans must perjure themselves as a condition for receiving Public Assistance?," referring to Section 481 of the Code, 62 P.S. § 481, which provides that any person who willfully misstates facts in applying for assistance is guilty of a misdemeanor. According to petitioner, the alternatives provided on the department's form for redetermination of eligibility are not sufficient to include his true citizenship and race.
The only evidence of citizenship and race we have before us is petitioner's self-characterization.
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 520]
During the departmental hearing, he characterized himself as a citizen of the western hemisphere. However, in his brief, he now refers to himself as a "citizen of the U.S.A." Moreover, in the hearing, he acknowledged having been born in the United States. Because he thus acknowledges U.S. citizenship, he can check that category, which does appear on the form.
As to race, petitioner, at the hearing, referred to his race as "human." In his brief, he now tells us that his race is "Asiatic." The form gives only the alternatives of "Black," "Spanish American," "American Indian," "Oriental," "White," and "Other." Relying on his self-assessment, he could check the category listed as "Other."
Because we conclude that petitioner can, according to his expressed views, sign DPW's form without "perjuring" himself under Section 481 of the Code, there is no question of validity or constitutionality before us.
The order is affirmed.
And Now, this 18th day of October, 1979, the order of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, dated October 13, 1977, at No. 1178 447D, is hereby affirmed.