Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Emily Felker, No. 8454-J.
Jonathan E. Butterfield, with him Lynn R. Mader and Niles Schore, for petitioner.
Mary F. Grabowski, Assistant Attorney General, with her Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. President Judge Bowman did not participate in the decision in this case.
On August 15, 1978, Emily Felker (Felker) applied for a special grant from the Columbia County Board of Assistance for the costs of moving*fn1 from a house
she was renting because she claimed her inability to keep the house warm was detrimental to her health. The application was denied on August 24, 1978. Felker appealed and, after hearing, her appeal was denied by a hearing examiner. The decision of the hearing examiner was affirmed on November 16, 1978 by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). This appeal followed and we reverse.
Felker is 54 years old and receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as a disabled individual. Her health problems include arthritis and pulmonary fibrosis. During the winter of 1978, Felker suffered from pneumonia, and her physician advised public assistance officials that, because of the condition of her health, she needed to live in a warm home.
The house she was living in prior to the move in question could have been heated to a temperature level compatible with her doctor's advice, but the cost of doing so would have been high because the insulation in the house was inadequate. Felker's income was $366.80 per month and her expenses, utilizing 1977-78 fuel costs, were approximately $371.35.
DPW has promulated regulations for moving allowances for SSI recipients. The pertinent portion of the regulation applicable to the instant case*fn2 provides that SSI recipients will be eligible for a one-time allowance for moving expenses provided that the recipient must move because his present home is detrimental to his health and welfare.
The issue here is whether the move by Felker was because the inadequately heated house was detrimental to her health and she lacked the financial ability to remedy the problem or because of an economic concern on her part as to the cost of heating the ...