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ROSA P. ROSS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/08/81)

decided: July 8, 1981.

ROSA P. ROSS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT. KAREN L. STAUFFER, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeals in the case of Appeal of Rosa P. Ross and in the case of Appeal of Karen L. Stauffer.

COUNSEL

Susan Wood, for petitioners.

Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 404]

We have consolidated for argument and disposition the appeals of Rosa P. Ross and Karen L. Stauffer from final orders of the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), reversing the decisions of a hearing examiner awarding them Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). We reverse and reinstate the examiner's orders awarding aid.

The petitioners are twenty-year-old unwed mothers residing in their mothers' household. Both were found ineligible for AFDC by the Lancaster County Board of Assistance (CBA) on the ground that they lived in their parental households and thus were not emancipated minors as defined in 55 Pa. Code § 145.62(i), which provides that an emancipated minor is one who "is age 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."

After hearing, an examiner found in each case on undisputed evidence that the petitioner used her income

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 405]

    in whatever manner she wished; that each paid rent to her mother; that each obtained credit and incurred obligations in her own name; that each was solely responsible for clothing, medical expenses and insurance for herself and her child; that each was not claimed as a dependent by her parents for federal income tax purpose; and finally that neither was under the care or control of her parents.

The hearing examiner concluded that the definition set forth at 55 Pa. Code § 145.62(i), which includes as an element of emancipation the act of leaving the parental household, did not apply; but that the definition applicable was that which appears at 55 Pa. Code § 257.22, which makes no reference to presence in or absence from the parental household and defines the unemancipated minor as "[o]ne who is under 21 years of age, not married, and in the care and control of his parents." Accordingly, the hearing examiner held that the petitioners were not unemancipated minors and thus were entitled to an award of AFDC benefits.

The hearing examiner's orders were reversed by separate orders of the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals on his conclusion that, as a matter of law, the definitions found at 55 Pa. Code § 145.62(i) applied to cases concerning the eligibility of a minor for AFDC benefits and that since the petitioners resided in their mothers' household, they were not emancipated minors entitled to benefits.

The petitioners contend that the Director erred in applying the definition at 55 Pa. Code § 145.62(i) to determine their eligibility cases. We agree. We have previously held that the definitions contained at 55 Pa. Code § 145.62, clearly labeled "GA [General Assistance] AGE PROVISIONS," have no applicability to an application for AFDC. Wilson v. Department of Public ...


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