Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare, in case of Appeal of: Barbara Nelson, Case No. 51-1325555.
Philip A. Bertocci, for petitioner.
Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 22]
This is an appeal by Barbara Nelson, petitioner, from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (Department), respondent, denying her Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits for failure to prove that her children lack the support, care or guidance of one parent or both under 55 Pa. Code § 153.44.
Mrs. Nelson was terminated as an AFDC recipient in December of 1984, after the Philadelphia County Assistance Office (CAO) received a complaint that Mr. Vaughn Carter, the father of Mrs. Nelson's three children, was residing with Mrs. Nelson and the children at 1002-C Myrtle Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Nelson submitted a reapplication for benefits in January of 1985 which was denied on the basis of the above-mentioned complaint. The Department determined that Mr. Carter's monthly income of between $1,200.00 to $1,530.00 increased the family income beyond the eligible level. A hearing was held on March 27, 1985, after which the hearing officer upheld the decision of the CAO. This appeal followed.*fn1 In essence, Mrs. Nelson
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 23]
contends that the hearing officer capriciously disregarded competent evidence when he disregarded the eight documents produced by Mrs. Nelson as verification that Mr. Carter was not residing with her.*fn2 In addition, Mrs.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 24]
Nelson argues that the hearing officer committed an error of law by misinterpreting 55 Pa. Code § 153.44(a)(4) to mean that Mrs. Nelson was required to prove Mr. Carter's actual address to illustrate his absence.*fn3 We affirm.
55 Pa. Code § 153.44(a)(5) states that "if it is verified that a parent is absent. . . ., the absence will be considered to interfere with the child receiving support care or guidance from the parent." If a child is deprived of the support of one or both parents, the family is eligible for AFDC benefits under 55 Pa. Code § 153.41. The CAO testified that Mrs. Nelson failed to provide verification that Mr. Carter was absent. The CAO considered other documents which it had relied on to show that Mr. Carter was not absent. The hearing officer, after reviewing the documents presented by Mr. Carter and Mrs. Nelson, drew the same conclusion as the CAO ...