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ALICE MAYS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/20/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: July 20, 1982.

ALICE MAYS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of Alice Mays, Case No. 92003-C.

COUNSEL

Michelle R. Terry, for petitioner.

Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 529]

Petitioner Alice Mays questions a final adjudication of the Department of Public Welfare affirming a decision of the Delaware County Board of Assistance which discontinued public assistance to the petitioner as payee for her grandson, Donald.

The hearing examiner found that the petitioner has cared for Donald -- now eighteen years old -- since he was an infant, and that Donald's mother, Joann Ruggiero, who has two other children, has never contributed to his support. Because the petitioner and Donald have lived with Ms. Ruggiero since 1975, and because Donald's mother has been receiving maternity benefits from her employer in lieu of salary since June of 1980, the examiner affirmed the board's conclusion that Donald was ineligible for assistance, under Sections 183.22 and 183.44(b) of the Public Assistance Eligibility Manual, 55 Pa. Code §§ 183.22 and 183.44; those sections*fn1 create a presumption that the

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 530]

    income of a legally responsible relative, such as the mother of a minor child living in the same household, is available for the support of her dependents.

Citing the Pennsylvania Support Law*fn2 and the general policy provisions for public assistance,*fn3 the petitioner contends that the department must "develop" the potential resources of Donald's natural

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 531]

    mother through a court petition to compel her to support him.

Because Section 1973 of the Support Law authorizes not only the department, but also the indigent person or "any other person or public body or public agency having any interest in the care, maintenance or assistance of such indigent person" to petition a common pleas court to compel financial assistance, we cannot interpret the language of 55 Pa. Code § 187.21, mandating exploration and development of resources which a legally responsible relative may provide to an assistance recipient, as requiring the department, and only the department, to bring proceedings to compel support.

Accordingly, we affirm.

Order

Now, July 20, 1982, the final adjudication of the Department of Public Welfare, dated January 19, 1981, case No. 92003-C, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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