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ISABELLE ARMLOVICH v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/06/80)

decided: March 6, 1980.

ISABELLE ARMLOVICH, 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 Isabelle Armlovich, No. 36924-D.

COUNSEL

Catherine A. Davis, with her Paul Osborne, for petitioner.

Edward P. Carey, Assistant Attorney General, with him Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. President Judge Bowman did not participate in the decision in this case. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Macphail

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 604]

Isabelle Armlovich (Petitioner) brings this appeal from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) affirming the decision of the Clearfield County Board of Assistance which denied her general assistance benefits. The sole issue is whether DPW erred in finding Petitioner ineligible for assistance benefits because of her failure to apply for her late husband's railroad retirement benefits. For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

The facts of this case are not in dispute. Petitioner was widowed on April 14, 1976. After her husband's death she supported herself with the proceeds she received from two life insurance policies totaling $7,500 and from the sale of personal possessions such as antiques. When her immediate funds were exhausted, she applied for assistance. On April 12, 1977, she was added to her adult daughter's assistance unit*fn1 and together they received $219.00 per month.*fn2 Petitioner's assistance was terminated on December 29, 1977. She

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 605]

    reapplied for assistance in April, 1978, but her application was denied because she failed to apply for her husband's railroad retirement benefits. If Petitioner applies for and receives the railroad retirement benefits before she reaches age 60,*fn3 she will receive a lump sum payment of $12,034.17. She then will be ineligible for any further benefits, including medicare coverage, for the remainder of her life.*fn4 If she does not receive the railroad retirement benefits until she is age 60 or older, she will be eligible to receive $459.68 per month until her death. Petitioner asserts three points in arguing that DPW's order was in error. We find them to be without merit.

Petitioner first argues that DPW's ruling was contrary to the purpose of the public assistance program, that is

     to promote the welfare and happiness of all the people of the Commonwealth, by providing public assistance to all of its needy and distressed; . . . and that assistance shall be administered in such a way and manner as to encourage self-respect, self-dependency and the desire to be a good citizen and useful to society.

Section 401 of the Public Welfare Code (Code), Act of June 13, 1967, P.L. 31, as amended, 62 P.S. § 401. See also 55 Pa. Code § 101.1(c)(1). To the contrary, we find that DPW's ...


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