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LISA WILSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/18/80)

decided: January 18, 1980.

LISA WILSON, 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 Lisa Wilson, Petitioner, dated October 20, 1978.

COUNSEL

Louis Lessem, for petitioner.

Catherine Steward, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., DiSalle and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge DiSalle.

Author: Craig

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 577]

Petitioner Lisa Wilson appeals from the Department of Public Welfare's decision which approved the action of the Allegheny County Board of Assistance terminating petitioner's public assistance.

On the basis of an anonymous complaint, containing information that petitioner had been employed for approximately two years by the American Music Exchange and had received compensation in the form of wages, room and board, and company stock that remained in the possession of the company's attorneys, petitioner's caseworker initiated assistance redetermination procedures.

Petitioner contends that the department did not follow its own regulations in that she was not afforded a personal interview to investigate the validity of the anonymous allegations before the department sent the notice proposing to terminate her assistance, allegedly in violation of 55 Pa. Code § 201.4(c)(1) which simply

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 578]

    requires a personal interview for a partial redetermination. Further, because the termination proceedings were initiated before contact with her, petitioner contends that the assistance office was in effect using the anonymous complaint, and not the client, as the primary source of information, in violation of regulations at 55 Pa. Code § 201.1(1), which state that: "The client will be the primary source of information in establishing eligibility for financial assistance."

Testimony at the fair hearing indicates that petitioner's caseworker unsuccessfully attempted to communicate with petitioner before sending notification of potential termination.*fn1 The regulation does not explicitly require personal contact with a recipient before sending that notice. Further, the notice of termination informs the recipient of the outstanding complaint and notifies the recipient that the recipient is responsible for providing information to refute the allegations.

In Baker v. Department of Public Welfare, 38 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 478, 393 A.2d 1064 (1978), this court held that department regulations placed the burden of establishing eligibility on the recipient; the recipient has the burden to verify income or lack thereof.

The record shows that petitioner did not contact her county assistance office to provide requested information before the hearing. However, at the hearing ...


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