Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Hearings and Appeals in case of Appeal of: Axel R. Anderson, Case No. M-588891-TA.
Susan J. Pearlstein, for petitioner.
Jeffrey Gonick, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Williams, Jr., Craig and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 183]
Axel Anderson appeals from a decision of the Department of Public Welfare's Board of Hearings and Appeals, which determined that he was ineligible for further Medical Assistance benefits.*fn1 We must decide whether the board properly determined that Anderson's real estate interest disqualified him from benefit eligibility.
Upon Anderson's admission to the Western Restoration Center, a public medical institution, DPW had determined that he was eligible for medical assistance benefits in the "Medically Needy-Aged" category. The only resource then available to help meet his medical costs, according to DPW's assessment, was one-half of a bank account of $496.78, owned jointly with
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 184]
his sister Alma Anderson. That amount was well under the eligibility ceiling of $1,500.*fn2
In January, 1980, DPW notified Anderson that it had redetermined his available resources, and had assigned as a resource one-half of the assessed value of the home which he owned jointly with his sister. That figure, over $4,000, placed Anderson over the maximum.
Anderson appealed that determination, and, after a hearing, a referee issued a decision adverse to Anderson, which the board adopted in an order dated April 2, 1980.
Before this court, Anderson argues that the board erred in classifying his real estate as non-resident property, and therefore, includable as an available resource.*fn3 The issue, therefore, is whether or not Anderson's home legally constitutes his residence. After close scrutiny of the applicable regulations, we agree with Anderson and reverse the board's decision.
Both parties argue, and we agree, that because Anderson had entered a facility and had been there more than six months, the Public Assistance Manual provisions at 55 Pa. Code § 177.83(b)(2), governing persons admitted to a facility, control this case. The referee, however, after arriving at the same conclusion, erroneously proceeded to decide Anderson's case according to the provisions of § 177.83(b)(3), relating to persons institutionalized for six months or less. Using those standards, the referee ...