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LAURA E. D'ELETTO v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/08/83)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: August 8, 1983.

LAURA E. D'ELETTO, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Laura D'Eletto, Case No. 534.

COUNSEL

Joel Persky, with him Cornelia Griffin Farmer, Baskin and Sears, P.C., for petitioner.

James S. Marshall, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 225]

Laura D'Eletto appeals a Department of Public Welfare (DPW) decision terminating her disability benefits. We affirm.

D'Eletto, a Western Center employee,*fn1 was kicked in the spine by a patient on June 4, 1975. She received benefits under Act 534*fn2 from July 20, 1975, until February 25, 1978, when the DPW suspended the payments because D'Eletto refused to be examined by a DPW-selected physician. On appeal, the hearing examiner restored her benefits but the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals conditioned the restoration upon her being examined.

We will sustain a DPW adjudication if it is in accordance with the law and is supported by substantial evidence. Krug v. Commonwealth, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 563, 308 A.2d 168 (1973).

Because D'Eletto refused to submit to a requested medical examination as required by § 8453.561*fn3 of the

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 226]

DPW manual, the Director concluded that, as a matter of law, D'Eletto was ineligible to receive further benefits. This decision was not inconsistent with any fact-finding of the hearing examiner. The director stopped the benefits because D'Eletto had violated departmental regulations, not because he believed her disability had ended.*fn4

Notwithstanding her refusal, D'Eletto argues that the DPW was precluded from terminating her benefits because she had established an "authorized status" within the meaning of § 8453.57(c).*fn5 She claims that, because she had undergone a previous independent medical examination and because both the DPW's Hearing Examiner and a Workmen's Compensation

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 227]

    referee had declared her disabled, the Director could not terminate her benefits. This interpretation of "authorized status" is clearly incorrect, as it would nullify the department's ability under § 8453.561 to require special medical examinations. To maintain or regain authorized status, an employee must comply with all of the DPW's regulations in a timely manner.

The Director was acting within his scope of authority when he terminated D'Eletto's benefits, and there was substantial evidence to support his order. Because his decision was based on procedural violations and not on evidentiary questions, we need not consider D'Eletto's collateral estoppel argument.

Affirmed.

Order

The decision and order of the Department of Public Welfare dated March 31, 1981, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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