Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Richard T. Hardy, Case No. 24309-D.
Edward M. Pulaski, for petitioner.
Mary Frances Grabowski, Assistant Counsel, with her, Jason W. Manne, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Craig J. Staudenmaier, with him Wilhelm E. Shissler, Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania Chiropractic Society.
Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 429]
Richard T. Hardy (Petitioner) seeks review of a decision by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) which determined that he was not eligible for continued assistance as a "chronically needy" recipient under Section 432(3)(i)(C) of the Public Welfare Code, (Act) Act of June 13, 1967, P.L. 31, as amended, 62 P.S. § 432(3)(i)(C).
On December 28, 1982 the Carbon County Assistance Office classified Petitioner as "transitionally needy" under Section 432(3)(iii) of the Act.*fn1 Petitioner appealed to DPW's Hearing Examiner, submitting a chiropractor's statement in support of his claim that a disabling back injury had rendered him chronically needy. The Hearing Examiner denied the appeal, finding that Petitioner had failed to meet his burden of proof. The Office of Hearings and Appeals affirmed the decision of the Hearing Examiner, clarifying that the Petitioner would be permitted to reapply by submitting a physician's statement to document his disability. The Executive Deputy Secretary granted a request for reconsideration, and on May 3, 1983, affirmed the order of the Office of Hearings and Appeals.
Before this Court*fn2 Petitioner argues that the Hearing Examiner erred as a matter of law in determining that a chiropractor's statement is insufficient documentation
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 430]
of a disability for purposes of establishing "chronically needy" status. DPW contends that its determination was in accordance with its regulations, which require that documentation of such disability be provided by a physician or licensed psychologist. 55 Pa. Code § 141.61(d)(1)(iii)(B). Authority for this requirement is provided in Section 432(3)(i)(C) of the Act which states, in pertinent part:
(i) Chronically needy persons are those persons chronically in need who may be eligible for an indeterminate period as a result of medical, social or related circumstances and shall be limited to:
(C) A person who has a serious physical or mental handicap which prevents him or her from working in any substantial gainful activity as determined in accordance with standards established by the department. The department may require that ...