Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Stanley M. Juras, Case No. 108122-D.
G. Clayton Nestler, for petitioner.
Carol A. Genduso, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. President Judge Crumlish dissents.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 170]
Stanley Juras (Petitioner) has appealed from a final order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) which affirmed the discontinuance of his public assistance benefits due to Petitioner's failure to attend an eligibility redetermination appointment with his caseworker. We reverse and remand.
The record and the hearing examiner's findings reflect that Petitioner was authorized to receive general assistance (GA) and medical assistance (MA) benefits beginning on September 21, 1979. A Fayette County Assistance Office (CAO) caseworker attempted to telephone Petitioner on or about April 28, 1980 to schedule an eligibility redetermination appointment as required by applicable law.*fn1 Petitioner was not at home and did not return the call although the caseworker left a message with Petitioner's mother. On June 12, 1980, the caseworker sent Petitioner a notice which read in its entirety as follows:
Please visit the Assistance Office [at] 10:30 on Monday 6/16/80. Bring a rent receipt from your mother.
Petitioner neither appeared at the CAO on June 16 nor contacted his caseworker to explain his absence. Consequently, the caseworker issued a form PA 162-A on June 18, 1980 notifying Petitioner that the CAO
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 171]
proposed to discontinue his GA and MA benefits effective July 2, 1980 due to the CAO's inability to verify Petitioner's continued need for assistance.*fn2 Petitioner filed a timely appeal from the CAO's decision. Following a fair hearing, the examiner determined that Petitioner's benefits had correctly been discontinued due to his failure to appear for the redetermination appointment.
On appeal to this Court, Petitioner argues that his benefits were improperly terminated on the basis of his failure to appear for a single appointment particularly since the notice for that appointment did not state the purpose of the meeting or the consequences which would result from a failure to appear. Petitioner testified that ...