Appeal from the order of the Department of Public Welfare, in case of Appeal of: Marisol Colon, Case No. 48-0064054, dated January 29, 1986.
Jeffrey L. Greenwald, for petitioner.
Mary Frances Grabowski, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 473]
Marisol E. Colon (Petitioner) appeals from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) affirming the termination of her entitlement to benefits.*fn1
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 474]
Petitioner began receiving benefits in April, 1984 based on a deprivation factor of the absence of her husband, George Colon. The record indicates that at the time Petitioner began receiving benefits she lived at 1222 S. Lebanon St. On August 16, 1985 Petitioner and her three children moved to 944 Evans St. Approximately three months later, on November 7, 1985, the Northampton County Assistance Office (CAO) received a complaint that Mr. Colon was living at 944 Evans St.
CAO then sought information regarding the validity of the complaint. Various statements and documents were produced, including: statements from Petitioner and Mr. Colon that he did not reside at 944 Evans St.; a report from the Office of Employment Security (OES) stating that, as of September 5, 1985 Mr. Colon's address was 944 Evans St.; a document from Mr. Colon's employer stating his address as 944 Evans St.; and, a statement from Petitioner's landlord that Mr. Colon was residing at 944 Evans St. Based on this information, CAO sent advance notice to Petitioner proposing to terminate assistance benefits because of "inconsistant [sic] information regarding the complaint." R. Item 2.
Petitioner appealed and sought a fair hearing. In the period of time between Petitioner's request for a hearing and the date of the hearing, CAO sought additional information regarding Mr. Colon's address. This further investigation included contacting the Domestic Relations Office (DRO), which provided its record address for Mr. Colon as 1129-A Garfield St.*fn2 CAO then contacted the Public Housing Authority (PHA) and requested information on the household composition at the Garfield Street address. PHA records reflected that Mr. Colon was not a member of that household.*fn3
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 475]
At the fair hearing, held on January 15, 1986, Petitioner sought to refute the evidence offered by CAO that Mr. Colon resided with her. She did not dispute that OES and Mr. Colon's employer listed him as residing at 944 Evans St., but stated that Mr. Colon had used her address without her permission. She also read a statement from Mr. Colon that he did not reside with her*fn4 and referred to the rent receipts Mr. Colon had provided. Petitioner stated that she did receive mail addressed to Mr. Colon at the Evans Street address, but only because Mr. Colon's mail was being forwarded, by the post office, from the Lebanon Street address. Petitioner stated she gave that mail to Mr. Colon's mother. There was much dispute over Mr. Colon's unemployment compensation checks and the fact that they were sent to the Evans Street address.
Petitioner testified that she had not given Mr. Colon her address until one of their children became ill in October of 1985. She stated that Mr. Colon must have learned her address from one of the yellow forwarding stickers used by the post office. N.T. at 23. It was noted at that time that unemployment compensation checks are not forwarded and therefore Mr. Colon could not have learned Petitioner's address through a forwarding label of one of his checks. N.T. at 23. In response, Petitioner stated that it was not unemployment compensation checks which had forwarding labels, but other mail addressed to Mr. Colon. N.T. at 23. However, Petitioner admitted that Mr. Colon's unemployment compensation checks were arriving at the Evans Street address and that she was giving these to Mr. Colon's mother
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 476]
with his other, forwarded, mail. Petitioner testified that she did not return any of the mail to ...