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MARJORIE SIMMS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/27/84)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: September 27, 1984.

MARJORIE SIMMS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of: Marjorie Simms, No. 974 426 D.

COUNSEL

David L. Hill, for petitioner.

Catherine Stewart, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 325]

Simms appeals a Department of Public Welfare (DPW) order reversing a hearing examiner's decision to continue general assistance benefits. We affirm.*fn1

Simms has been a recipient of public assistance benefits since December, 1971. She has owned a house in Philadelphia since January, 1966, which she vacated in 1979 due to its extreme state of disrepair.*fn2

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 326]

On November 6, 1980, the County Assistance Office informed Simms that on November 24, 1980, her assistance benefits would be discontinued because she owned nonresident real property which had not been marketed for sale.

The hearing examiner instructed the Philadelphia County Board of Assistance to continue benefits. On appeal, DPW reversed the decision of the hearing examiner and found that Simms was ineligible for public assistance because of her ownership of the real property. Upon reconsideration, the Secretary of Public Welfare affirmed the decision of DPW.

Simms contends that her property should not be considered a resource because the extensive liens and encumbrances against it negate any real market value. We disagree.

This Court will not look beyond the words of a regulation where they "are clear and free from all ambiguity." Farrell v. Department of Public Welfare, 70 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 278, 280, 452 A.2d 1130, 1132 (1982). Under the Real Property Provisions for General Assistance,*fn3 Simms' property is defined as nonresident real property. The provisions further provide that "[t]he individual who owns real property which is not his home is ineligible unless [s]he takes adequate steps to sell it at its approximate market value when it is offered for sale on the open market."*fn4 These regulations implement the directive of Section 432.5(d) of the Public Welfare Code, Act of June 13,

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 3271967]

, P.L. 31, as amended, 62 P.S. ยง 432.5(d).*fn5 Neither the statute nor the regulations provides for an exception to this requirement regardless of whether the property has substantial liens and encumbrances.*fn6 We hold that DPW did not err in its determination that Simms was ineligible for general assistance benefits.

Affirmed.

Order

The Final Order of the Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, dated March 5, 1981, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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