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PEGGY FEAGINS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/04/81)

decided: June 4, 1981.

PEGGY FEAGINS, 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 Peggy Feagins, No. L-181, 170-C.

COUNSEL

James D. Belliveau, for petitioner.

Catherine Stewart, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 471]

Peggy Feagins (Petitioner) appeals from the order of the Department of Public Welfare (Department) that affirmed the decision of the Allegheny County Board of Assistance to discontinue Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and medical assistance to Petitioner's three minor children.*fn1

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 472]

The facts of this case are not in dispute. On December 20, 1978 a redetermination interview was conducted at which time Petitioner reported that: 1) her monthly gross earned income had increased to $608.33; 2) one of her children would be leaving the household; 3) her common-law husband would be moving into the household and would support Petitioner and one of her children; and 4) her three minor children living in the household would continue to require AFDC assistance.

The dispute in this case centers around the appropriate method to be used in computing the amount of Petitioner's income which is available to meet the needs of her three minor children. The level of available income is then used to determine eligibility. The County Assistance Office (CAO) computed available income according to Section 183.44(b) of the Public Assistance Manual (Manual), 55 Pa. Code § 183.44(b).*fn2 Using that method of calculation, which applies where dependents are seeking or receiving assistance, Petitioner's children were determined to be ineligible for AFDC assistance. Petitioner does not challenge the mathematics of that calculation. Instead, Petitioner argues that the CAO should have used the calculation method provided by Section 183.44(d) of the Manual, 55 Pa. Code § 183.44(d), rather than that of Section 183.44(b). Due to the availability of an earned income

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 473]

    incentive deduction under Section 183.44(d), the calculation of income under that section would render Petitioner's children eligible for AFDC assistance.

Thus, the issue for our determination is which method of income calculation, that of Section 183.44(b) or Section 183.44(d), should be applied in the instant case.

Our scope of review of a DPW decision is limited to a determination of whether an error of law was committed, whether constitutional rights were violated, and whether all the necessary findings of fact were supported by substantial evidence. Felker v. Department ...


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