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MERRY SNYDER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/14/85)

decided: May 14, 1985.

MERRY SNYDER, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Merry Snyder, No. 11701, dated September 27, 1983.

COUNSEL

Paul D. Welch, for petitioner.

Mary Frances Grabowski, Assistant Counsel, with her, John Kane, for respondent.

Judges Rogers and Craig and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Barbieri

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 261]

Merry Snyder, Petitioner, seeks review of an order of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 262]

(DPW) which affirmed the discontinuance of her General Assistance (GA) cash grant due to her eligibility to receive benefits under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and her refusal to cooperate with DPW to initiate a support action against her child's father.

The pertinent facts of this case are not in dispute. Petitioner is the mother of a minor son. She never married the child's father and the father does not reside with the family, nor does he provide monetary support to the child. She states however, that the father takes an active interest in the child's well-being and provides in-kind support in the nature of clothing, food and toys. Petitioner was receiving a monthly cash GA grant in the amount of $162 as well as food stamps, and while she did not seek a cash grant for the child, she did seek and was granted medical assistance for the child who was considered as categorically needy.

In May of 1983, the Perry County Assistance Office (CAO) conducted a review of Petitioner's eligibility to continue to receive her GA benefits. Section 432(3)(ii) of the Public Welfare Code*fn1 requires such reviews on at least an annual basis. At that review, the CAO advised Petitioner that, due to a change in the law and applicable DPW regulations, she was no longer eligible to receive her GA cash grant because, in the opinion of the CAO, she was eligible for benefits under the AFDC program and that this AFDC eligibility required that she institute a support action against her child's father or provide good cause for failing to do so. On May 20, 1983, she informed the CAO that she would not institute a support action nor would she claim good cause for not doing so. As a result, on May 23, 1983, the CAO notified her that it determined that

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 263]

    she was no longer eligible for her GA benefits and proposed to discontinue them. Petitioner filed a timely appeal and a fair hearing was held on September 9, 1983. On September 13, 1983, the hearing officer issued an adjudication which denied her appeal. Final Administrative Action was taken by DPW on September 27, 1983 which upheld the hearing officer's adjudication and denied Snyder's appeal. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a timely petition for review with this Court.

In this appeal, Petitioner raises two assignments of error on the part of DPW which she contends require our reversal of the DPW order and a reinstatement of her GA benefits. First, she contends that DPW erred as a matter of law when it discontinued her GA benefits due to her refusal to institute a support action against her child's father in that the standards used by DPW to determine her eligibility for GA were inapplicable to her situation or, in the alternative, unreasonable. Second, she contends that even if the standards applied by DPW were applicable to her situation, DPW's conclusion that she is eligible for AFDC benefits is not supported by substantial evidence. We shall address these issues seriatim, duly noting that our scope of review of a DPW adjudication is limited to determining whether necessary findings are supported by substantial evidence, in accordance with law, and whether or ...


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