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KIMBERLEY SPICER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/20/81)

decided: April 20, 1981.

KIMBERLEY SPICER, 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 Kimberley Spicer, dated April 28, 1980.

COUNSEL

David Gates, for petitioner.

Carol A. Genduso, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 559]

Kimberley Spicer (Petitioner) appeals here from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) dated April 23, 1980, affirming the decision of the Bucks County Board of Assistance (CBA) to discontinue the Petitioner's food stamps due to excess income.

At the time this case began, the Petitioner, a full-time student at Bucks County Community College (BCCC), was receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits in the amount of $273.00 per month for herself and her minor daughter. She also received medical assistance benefits and $58.00 per month in food stamps. Sometime prior to February 26, 1980, BCCC notified CBA that the Petitioner would be receiving the following financial aid for the spring 1980 semester: a Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG) for $544.00, a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) for $750.00, and a grant from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) for $250.00.*fn1 BCCC also submitted a list of the Petitioner's anticipated expenses

[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 560]

    for the spring semester.*fn2 After reviewing this information the CBA notified the Petitioner on February 26, 1980, that it proposed to discontinue her food stamps effective April 1, 1980, due to excess income. The Petitioner appealed. A hearing was held on April 14, 1980. DPW upheld the decision of the CBA. The Petitioner appealed to this Court.

Our scope of review of final orders of DPW is limited to a determination of whether the adjudication was in accordance with the law, any constitutional rights were violated, and the findings of fact were supported by substantial evidence. Burks v. Department of Public Welfare, 48 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 6, 408 A.2d 912 (1979). It is well settled that "the construction of a statute by those charged with its execution and application is entitled to great weight and should not be disregarded or overturned except for cogent reasons, and unless it is clear that such construction is erroneous." Longo Liquor License Case, 183 Pa. Superior Ct. 504, 508, 132 A.2d 899, 901 (1957).

DPW is responsible for administering the federal food stamp program (Program)*fn3 in Pennsylvania. The federal regulations implementing the Program require that the income eligibility standards for the Program shall be uniform throughout, inter alia, the 48 contiguous states. 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(a)(1) (1980). All of DPW's regulations in this area are, therefore,

[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 561]

    based on similar regulations promulgated by the United States ...


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