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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JUDY MOLYNEAUX (05/26/82)

decided: May 26, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, APPELLANT,
v.
JUDY MOLYNEAUX, APPELLEE



No. 435 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of Commonwealth Court, Filed July 9, 1979 at 1541 C.D. 1978 Reversing the Adjudication and Order of the Department of Public Welfare

COUNSEL

Edward P. Carey, Asst. Atty. Gen., Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellant.

Stuart Cilo, Bloomsburg, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Hutchinson, JJ. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Hutchinson

[ 498 Pa. Page 194]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Department of Public Welfare, Appellant, here challenges the decision of the Commonwealth Court in Molyneaux v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, 44 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 111, 403 A.2d 634 (1979), reversing the hearing examiner's affirmance of the action of the Columbia County Assistance Office which, in April of 1978, denied Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) assistance to Judy Molyneaux and her two minor children, Autumn and Katrina. Assistance was denied on the grounds that Stephen Molyneaux, father to the two girls, was living in the household with his children and was employed, earning two hundred thirty dollars ($230.) per week.

Judy Molyneaux is divorced from Stephen Molyneaux. Until the action of the Columbia County Assistance Board, she was the caretaker-relative who received three hundred two dollars ($302.) per month, in addition to food stamps and medical assistance benefits, as aid for herself and her two children because of the absence of their other parent from the household. Upon receiving reliable information indicating that Stephen was then residing in the household, the Columbia County Board of Assistance advised Ms. Molyneaux that the amount of income earned by the children's father and considered to be available to the children because of his presence in the household was sufficiently in excess of his own needs to cover the AFDC grant which the children had been receiving.*fn1

Commonwealth Court vacated the Department of Public Welfare's order, which had discontinued the assistance grant

[ 498 Pa. Page 195]

    for the Molyneaux children, and remanded for a redetermination of eligibility consistent with the court's finding that the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare had improperly created an irrebuttable presumption that a father's income is available to his children living in the same household for AFDC purposes and that such presumption is unconstitutional. Because AFDC eligibility is a creature of federal law which excludes children of employed parents resident in the same household from eligibility and the federal courts have held that type of exclusion to be constitutionally permissible,*fn2 we reverse the order of the Commonwealth Court and reinstate the order of the County Board of Assistance denying AFDC benefits.

The opinion of the Commonwealth Court, per Rogers, J., in addressing itself to an "irrebuttable presumption" found in the procedural regulations*fn3 of the Department of Public Welfare ...


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