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ERMA BENNETT FOR NANCY BENNETT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/04/80)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: February 4, 1980.

ERMA BENNETT FOR NANCY BENNETT, 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 Erma C. Bennett, dated September 11, 1978.

COUNSEL

Stewart A. Cilo, 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

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 198]

Petitioners Erma Bennett and Nancy Bennett appeal from the Department of Public Welfare's affirmance of the decision of the Columbia County

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 199]

Board of Assistance (CBA), which determined that they constituted one household, and, as such, were ineligible for food stamps by reason of their combined resources.

The only question presented is whether substantial evidence supports the CBA's determination that petitioners constituted one household within the pertinent regulations,*fn1 and whether that determination is otherwise in accordance with the law.*fn2

Petitioner Nancy Bennett is 32 years old, seriously disabled, and receives social security and supplemental

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 200]

    security income benefits through the account of her deceased father. She resides with her mother, Erma Bennett, who receives social security benefits in her own right and as representative payee of Nancy's benefits.

The record reveals that, because of Nancy's disability, she is functionally dependent on Mrs. Bennett. Mrs. Bennett deposits her daughter's benefits, along with her own, in a joint checking account from which she pays all household expenses. Mrs. Bennett does all the purchasing and preparation of food for herself and her daughter, because Nancy is unable to perform these tasks herself.

Petitioners argue (1) that they are not a single economic unit because they have separate sources of income, and (2) that they constitute separate households because of differences in medically prescribed diets, and because any commonality of purchasing and preparation of food is due only to Nancy's disability.

We cannot agree. Separate income sources, in themselves, do not negate economic unity when there are, as here, sound findings as to sharing. Disparate diets are obviously not inconsistent with common food purchasing and cooking facilities. The CBA's finding that Mrs. Bennett prepares the food for both is a finding which necessarily imports that cooking is in common.

The record amply supports the adopted conclusion, and we will therefore affirm.

Order

And Now, this 4th day of February, 1980, the September 11, 1978 order of the Department of Public Welfare is affirmed.

This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge DiSalle.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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