Appeal from the Orders of the Department of Public Welfare in cases of Appeal of: Anna M. Pelton, Case No. 8341, dated March 11, 1981 and Appeal of Nancy Boudman, Case No. 15650-C.
Frederick M. Stanczak, Director of Litigation, with him, Jonathan E. Butterfield and Lenore M. Urbano, for petitioners.
Jason W. Manne, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Rogers, Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry and Palladino. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Concurring Opinion by Judge Doyle. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Rogers. President Judge Crumlish, Jr. joins in this dissent.
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 182]
This case was commenced in this Court by a Petition for Review addressed to both our appellate and original jurisdiction.*fn1 The matter was subsequently removed to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on petition of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). That court granted the motion of Anna Pelton and Nancy Boudman
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 183]
(Petitioners) for class certification and entered an order upholding DPW's position that its interpretation of the regulation found at 55 Pa. Code § 175.23(c)(2)(iv)*fn2 was consistent with the federal statutory and regulatory scheme. The federal court then remanded the case to this Court for consideration of the state law aspects of the case.*fn3 The parties have filed a stipulation in this Court whereby they request us to enter an order on their cross-motions for summary judgment filed in both the original and appellate aspects of the Petition for Review pursuant to the provisions of Pa. R.A.P. 1532(b). This Rule authorizes us to grant summary relief in either or both matters where the right of the applicant is clear.
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 184]
Petitioner Anna M. Pelton, at the time of her application for the one-time grant, was employed as a teacher's aide and had enrolled at Williamsport Area Community College as a full time student.*fn4 Pelton received partial benefits through the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), 42 U.S.C. § 601. In October, 1980, her automobile broke down, leaving her without a reliable means of transportation. On November 20, 1980, Pelton applied to DPW for the one-time grant authorized in 55 Pa. Code § 175.23(c)(2)(iv). The Clinton County Board of Assistance (Board) determined her to be ineligible for the one-time grant on the basis that such grants are available only to those who need them in order to apply for or accept employment or training and not to those who need them in order to retain their employment. After a fair hearing, DPW affirmed the Board's determination.
Similarly, Petitioner Nancy Boudman was employed and received partial benefits through AFDC. After her automobile broke down, she applied to the Columbia County Board of Assistance for the one-time grant. Boudman was also determined not to be eligible for the grant because she was employed at the time of her application. Following a fair hearing, DPW affirmed this determination.
DPW candidly admits that factually, the case now before us is indistinguishable from that in Bittner v. Department of Public Welfare, 50 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 396, 413 A.2d 20 (1980), and similar cases decided ...