Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Mildred R. Curtaccio, Case No. 43757-C.
Frank J. Piatek, for petitioner.
Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Rogers did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 578]
Mildred R. Curtaccio appeals a Department of Public Welfare (DPW) order adopting a hearing examiner's decision reducing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits which she received for her two children from a previous marriage. We affirm.
DPW has promulgated a regulation*fn1 providing a method for calculating the income of a stepparent, with whom a dependent child lives, to be considered in determining that child's need for AFDC benefits. Pursuant to this regulation, DPW deemed $116.25 to be available to the two children from their stepfather and reduced their AFDC benefits from $253.00 to $136.75 a month.
Curtaccio's contentions are that (1) DPW's regulation violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, (2) it interferes with the Commonwealth's right to establish and enforce support obligations and (3) DPW's decision is contrary to law and unsupported by substantial evidence because it did not consider past medical expenses as deductions from available income. These legal questions are subject to this Court's review. 2 Pa. C.S. § 704.
Curtaccio's initial contention is meritless. This Court has held that provisions deeming income of a stepparent available to a child do not violate either due process or equal protection rights under the
[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 579]
Fourteenth Amendment. Kratzer v. Department of Public Welfare, 85 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 318, 481 A.2d 1380 (1984).
Curtaccio further contends that DPW's regulation, in effect, requires her new husband to support his unadopted stepchildren in a manner not required by Pennsylvania support law.*fn2 However, we hold that it merely treats a dependent child living with a stepparent as less needy than a child without this benefit and does not interfere with the Commonwealth's right to establish or enforce support obligations.
DPW concedes that its regulation also allows the stepfather to deduct, from his total net income in any month, the medical expenses he paid during that month.*fn3 However, it contends that neither unpaid bills nor past expenses are deductible. We agree. An AFDC payment in one month is based on income deemed available in a prior "budget month."*fn4 Each increase in the stepfather's medical care expenditures, for himself and his dependents, will result in a decrease in the income deemed available to his stepchildren in that budget month, resulting in an increased AFDC payment in the subsequent month. We hold that past medical expenses are not allowable ...