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MARGARET E. KRATZER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/26/84)

decided: September 26, 1984.

MARGARET E. KRATZER, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Orders of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of In Re: Appeals of Margaret E. Kratzer, dated August 30, 1983 and December 12, 1983.

COUNSEL

Margaret E. Kratzer, petitioner, for herself.

Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., and Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 319]

Margaret E. Kratzer (petitioner) petitions for review of two orders of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) which discontinue Aid to Families with

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 320]

Dependent Children (AFDC) and food stamp benefits for her two minor children.*fn1

The record before us presents the following factual scenario. Petitioner and her two minor children were receiving AFDC and food stamp benefits. Petitioner subsequently married her present husband and was removed from the AFDC and food stamp grant. Petitioner's current husband has not adopted the children and petitioner's children continued to receive AFDC assistance of $262 per month and food stamps of $120 per month. On March 16, 1983 the Westmoreland County Assistance Office (CAO) informed petitioner that she would have to provide the CAO with verification of her husband's income to redetermine her children's eligibility for benefits. Three days later petitioner informed the CAO that her husband refused to provide the required income verification. The CAO issued advance notice to petitioner that it proposed to discontinue AFDC benefits effective April 25, 1983 and food stamps effective May 1983. Petitioner appealed the determination and a fair hearing was conducted on July 25, 1983. On August 30, 1983, DPW issued a final order denying petitioner's appeal and terminating AFDC and food stamp benefits. A second fair hearing on petitioner's children's food stamps was held on November 23, 1983.*fn2 On December 12, 1983, DPW denied petitioner's appeal and ordered food stamp benefits terminated. Petitions for Review from both orders were timely filed with this Court.

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 321]

The sole issue presented by petitioner is whether DPW erred when it terminated her two minor daughters' AFDC and food stamp benefits as a result of her failure to verify her husband's income to DPW. Petitioner asserts that requiring her to verify her husband's income to qualify her minor daughters for AFDC and food stamp benefits where her husband has no legal obligation to provide for their support*fn3 violates her daughters' rights to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

We note initially that our scope of review of a DPW adjudication is limited to determining whether the adjudication was supported by substantial evidence, was in accordance with law, and whether or not constitutional rights were violated. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. ยง 704; Montgomery County Child Welfare Services v. Hull, 51 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 1, 413 A.2d 757 (1980). We are also mindful that our review of DPW regulations is limited to a determination of whether or not they are reasonable. Williams v. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, 41 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 507, 399 A.2d 1150 (1979).

In 1982 the General Assembly amended Section 432.12(c) of the Public Welfare Code,*fn4 to require DPW to consider incomes of step-parents living in the same household available to the household for purposes of ...


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