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DENNIS VAN DUSEN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/12/83)

decided: December 12, 1983.

DENNIS VAN DUSEN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT. LINDA MOONEY, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Orders of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of Appeal of: Dennis Van Dusen, Case No. 51472-D, and in case of Appeal of: Linda Mooney, Case No. 42045-X.

COUNSEL

David J. Graban, Fruit, Dill, Goodwin & Scholl, for petitioners.

Jason W. Manne, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Williams

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 61]

Dennis Van Dusen and Linda Mooney (petitioners) appeal from final orders of the Department of Public Welfare (Department) affirming the decision of a hearing examiner which dismissed their separate appeals from the discontinuance of their food stamp grants. Because the petitioners' cases involve similar issues, their cases were consolidated for purposes of appeal, by an order of this Court dated January 7, 1982.

Each petitioner resides in an apartment which is leased to the Mercer County Association for the Retarded (MCAR), a non-profit corporation which provides services to the mentally retarded. MCAR subleases the apartments to the petitioners pursuant to its "Community Living Arrangement" program: a program designed to facilitate a previously institutionalized retarded individual's acclimation to normal social settings. The petitioners share their respective apartments with two other individuals who are also participants in MCAR's community living arrangement program. The petitioners are responsible for paying a proportionate (one third) share of the rent and utility bills, and are not subsidized by MCAR in any manner. The petitioners purchase and prepare their own food. Neither of them is blind or disabled, and they do not receive benefits under Titles II or XVI of the Social

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 62]

Security Act.*fn1 However, both receive general assistance grants from the State.

Van Dusen and Mooney were notified by the Mercer County Assistance Office (CAO) on May 27, 1981 and June 12, 1981, respectively, that their food stamp grants would be discontinued. The administrative agency regulations for the Department unequivocally state that a resident of a group living arrangement must be blind or disabled and receiving benefits under Titles II or XVI of the Social Security Act to be eligible for food stamp grants. 55 Pa. Code § 505.2.*fn2 Thus, the CAO informed the petitioners that they were ineligible for food stamp grants because they were residents of a nonprofit group living arrangement, neither blind nor disabled, and did not receive benefits under Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act.

The federal food stamp program was established in 1964 in an effort to relieve hunger and malnutrition among the more needy members of our society. 7 U.S.C. § 2011. Eligibility for participation in the program is determined on a "household" basis and according to financial need. 7 U.S.C. § 2014(a). The federal statute, in pertinent part, defines "household" as follows:

(1) an individual who lives alone or who, while living with others, ...


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