Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of William C. Congleton, No. 90 352-C, dated November 8, 1978.
Richard S. Packel, for petitioner.
Mary F. Grabowski, with her Linda M. Gunn, 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.
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This Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipient has appealed the Department of Public Welfare's (DPW) decision that he is ineligible for further assistance unless he signs an "Agreement
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 617]
and Authorization to Pay Claim" form, a "PA 176-K", by which he would agree to reimburse DPW for assistance, when and if he received benefits under a pending Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation claim.
DPW took the disputed action pursuant to its regulations at Sections 257.23 and 257.24 of the Public Assistance Eligibility Manual (PAEM).*fn1 Section 257.23(a) provides that reimbursement is based on rights to ownership of property while assistance is being received, and 257.23(c) includes workmen's compensation benefits in a list of various forms of assets.*fn2 Section 257.24(e)(1) provides the authority for the acknowledgment of liability by Form "PA 176-K."
Both parties recognize that resolution of this question depends on the effect on DPW's regulations of Section 318 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 621, which prohibits any assignment of a claim for, or payment of workmen's compensation, and Section 8124(c)(2) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8124(c)(2), which exempts claims and compensation payments under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act from attachment or execution on a judgment.
Examination of form PA 176-K reveals that it does not amount to an assignment of the pending claim.*fn3
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 618]
Instead the form is primarily an acknowledgment of an obligation to repay assistance when compensation is received. Our Supreme Court, in Tunnicliff v. Department Page 619} of Public Welfare, 483 Pa. 275, 396 A.2d 1168 (1978), has already passed on the operative language in the form and dispelled any belief that it operates as an assignment of future benefits. This form does not evince a present intent of the obligor to divest himself of any right to demand possession of a fund nor does it manifest an intent to transfer a present interest in a chose in action to DPW. See Melnick v. Pennsylvania Co. for Banking and Trusts, 180 Pa. Superior Ct. 441, 119 A.2d 825 (1956). Neither is there any direction to a debtor (the ...