Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Christine Wilson, No. 19917-C2.
Catharine Stewart, with her George R. Price, Jr., and Walter Perry, III, for petitioner.
Lenore M. Urbano, with her Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. President Judge Bowman did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 50 Pa. Commw. Page 233]
Christine Wilson (Petitioner) applied to the Lycoming County Board of Assistance (Board) for public assistance. At the time of her application, she was seventeen years old and the mother of a small child. She was receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits for the child and it was through the child's AFDC unit which she sought assistance. She and her child resided in the same house as her mother and a minor sister. The Board, in essence, found that Claimant was an unemancipated minor child, that her mother's income*fn1 was available to her, and that Claimant, therefore, was ineligible for
[ 50 Pa. Commw. Page 234]
assistance. Following a fair hearing, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) affirmed the Board's order. Claimant has appealed to this Court from the order of DPW.
Claimant raises three issues in her appeal to us: whether DPW applied the wrong regulation in determining whether she was emancipated for purposes of being attached to her daughter's AFDC unit, whether DPW erred in determining that she was not emancipated, and whether the regulation applied concerning Claimant's emancipation was based on an irrebuttable presumption which violated her due process rights. We agree with Claimant that DPW applied the wrong regulation. Accordingly, we reverse DPW's order and remand this case for reconsideration in light of the proper regulation.
In determining that Claimant was not an "emancipated minor," DPW applied a definition of that term as found in 55 Pa. Code § 145.62:
Emancipated minor -- This term shall include the following:
(i) A minor who is aged 16 or over, who has left the parental household and has established himself as a separate entity free to act upon his own responsibility, and who is capable of acting independently of any parental control. If such a minor again lives with his parents he will no longer be considered emancipated unless he remains independent of his parents' control.
Claimant argues, correctly, that the above definition applies to emancipation as it relates to general assistance benefits but not to the AFDC benefits for which she applied. She also argues, again correctly, that the definition concerning emancipation applicable to her situation is found at 55 Pa. Code § 257.22. Fink v. Department of Public ...