Appeals from the Orders of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of In re: Appeal of Robert Chatham, No. 40200, dated April 27, 1983, and In Re: Appeal of Robert E. Sweeney, No. 39947 dated May 24, 1983.
James Bukac, for petitioners.
Mary Frances Grabowski, Assistant Counsel, with her, Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Doyle and Palladino and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.
We have consolidated for disposition the appeals of two general assistance claimants, Robert Chatham and Robert Sweeney, from separate orders of the Executive Deputy Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare (Department), upholding hearing examiners' decisions finding claimants ineligible for general assistance benefits as "chronically needy persons" pursuant to Section 432(3)(i) of the Public Welfare Code (Code).*fn1
Section 432(3) of the Code distinguishes between "chronically needy persons", who are eligible for an indeterminate period of benefits, and "transitionally needy persons", who are eligible for no more than ninety days of benefits in any twelve-month period. Section 432(3)(iii) of the Code*fn2 defines transitionally needy persons as "those persons who are otherwise eligible for general assistance but do not qualify as chronically needy". "Chronically needy persons" are those persons who fall within any one of nine definitions set forth in subsections (A) through (I) of Section 432(3)(i) of the Code. In the present appeals, claimants concede that their eligibility for "chronically needy" status would only be pursuant to subsection (H) of Section 432(3)(i), which provides:
(i) Chronically needy persons are those persons chronically in need who may be eligible for an indeterminate period . . . and shall be limited to:
(H) Any person who has previously been employed full time for at least 48 months out of the previous eight years and has exhausted
his or her unemployment compensation benefits prior to applying for assistance.
Both claimants had been receiving general assistance when, in September, 1982, they were notified by their County Assistance Office (CAO) that they had been classified as transitionally needy and thus eligible for only ninety days worth of general assistance per year. Claimants appealed and were afforded an opportunity at a hearing to present evidence with respect to their work history over the previous eight years and their qualifications for unemployment benefits. For purposes of clarification, the facts of each case will be discussed separately.
Claimant Chatham alleged that he had been employed full time for fifty-three months out of the previous eight years. Chatham offered into evidence documentation substantiating forty-five months of employment. He could offer no supporting documentation regarding the remainder of his alleged work history. He testified that he was unable to obtain verification of four months of employment with a car dealership in 1977 because the dealership's records had been destroyed. Chatham offered into evidence a letter from the manager of the dealership stating Chatham had been employed there in 1977, but that exact dates could not be provided because all records had been destroyed when the roof of its building collapsed during a storm. Chatham also testified ...