Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare, in case of Appeal of: Thomas Spowart, Case No. 020684149, In Re: Esther Goughenour. Medical assistance benefits denied by Allegheny County Assistance Office.
John F. Hooper, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, for petitioner.
Bruce G. Baron, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 100 Pa. Commw. Page 402]
Esther P. Goughenour (petitioner) here appeals the denial of medical assistance benefits to her by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW). The petitioner initially applied for medical assistance benefits on March 20, 1984. These benefits were initially approved; however, DPW subsequently learned that the petitioner had transferred assets prior to her application for medical assistance, and consequently disapproved such benefits. This denial was appealed and a hearing was held on March 4, 1985, before a Hearing Examiner for DPW. On March 25, 1985, the Hearing Examiner entered an order denying the appeal. This order was affirmed by the Office of Hearing and Appeals on March 29, 1985. This appeal followed.
The issue before this Court is whether the petitioner was entitled to medical assistance benefits. Our scope of review of a DPW decision is limited to a determination of whether the adjudication was in accordance with the law, whether constitutional rights were violated and whether all the necessary findings of fact were supported by substantial evidence. Hankinson v. Department of Public Welfare, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 307, 424 A.2d 625 (1981).
[ 100 Pa. Commw. Page 403]
The General Assembly provided the following criteria for eligibility for medical assistance.
Medical assistance shall not be granted to or in behalf of any person who disposed of his real or personal property, of the value of five hundred dollars ($500), or more, without fair consideration, within two years immediately preceding the date of application for medical assistance unless he is eligible for State supplemental assistance or unless he can clearly show that the transfer was not primarily for the purpose of acquiring or retaining eligibility for assistance.
Section 441.2 of the Public Welfare Code (Code), Act of July 13, 1967, P.L. 31, as amended, added by Section 5 of the Act of July 15, 1976, P.L. 993, 62 P.S. § 441.2. It is thus clear that an applicant for medical assistance has the burden of showing that any transfer of property was not primarily for the purpose of acquiring or retaining eligibility for such assistance. It is implicit in Section 441.2 of the Code that such transfer may be partially for the purpose of acquiring medical assistance. The pertinent regulation provides:
(1) Resources disposed of before application. A person who disposes of real or personal property having a value of $500 or more without fair consideration within two years immediately preceding the date of application for assistance, will be ineligible to receive assistance if he disposed of such property with the intention of defrauding the Commonwealth. 'Intention of defrauding the Commonwealth' will mean that the dominant or overriding purpose of the transaction was either to ...