297 F.Supp. 450 (D.Md. 1968), Civ. A. 19250, Williams v. Dandridge

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 19250
Citation:297 F.Supp. 450
Party Name:Williams v. Dandridge
Case Date:December 13, 1968
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, District of Maryland
 
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297 F.Supp. 450 (D.Md. 1968)

Linda WILLIAMS and Junius Gary and Jeanette Gary, his wife, individually and on behalf of their minor children and all other parents, relatives or minor children similarly situated, Plaintiffs,

v.

Edmund P. DANDRIDGE, Jr., Chairman of the Maryland State Board of PublicWelfare; Raleigh C. Hobson, Director, State Department of Public Welfare, Calhoun Bond, Mrs. Ralph O. Dulany, Dr. W. Richard Ferguson, Mrs. Charles D.Harris, and J. O.Shuger, Members of the Maryland State Board of Public Welfare, Esther Lazarus,Director of Public Welfare for the City of Baltimore, individually and in theirofficial capacities, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 19250.

United States District Court, D. Maryland.

Dec. 13, 1968

Argued: June 25, 1968., Supplemental Opinion Feb. 25, 1969.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Joseph A. Matera, Gerald A. Smith and David Packard, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiffs.

Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., Frank A. DeCosta, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., George L. Russel, Jr., City Sol., and Edwin J. Gutman, Asst. City Sol., Robert F. Sweeney, Deputy Atty. Gen., of Maryland, and George W. Liebmann, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendants.

Before WINTER, Circuit Judge, THOMSEN, Chief Judge, and HARVEY, District Judge.

WINTER, Circuit Judge:

Before us now 1 on the pleadings, stipulations and testimony are plaintiffs'

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prayers that we declare invalid and permanently enjoin the enforcement of the 'maximum grant' regulation of the Maryland Department of Public Welfare which, summarized, provides that, irrespective of the need and eligibility, a family receiving benefits under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program (AFDC), established by the Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 601-609, may not receive in excess of $250.00 per month. The declaration sought is that the 'maximum grant' regulation is inconsistent with the Social Security Act and that it denies equal protection of the laws. Jurisdiction is properly invoked under Civil Rights Act, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1343(3) and (4), and 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983, and the case is an appropriate one for a three-judge District Court under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2281. King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309, 88 S.Ct. 2128, 20 L.Ed.2d 1118 (1968).

Maryland participates in AFDC. 8A Ann. Code of Maryland, Art. 88A, § 44A et seq. By regulations approved by the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Maryland has adopted a schedule setting forth standards of need. The schedule lists the monetary need for family units of one to ten persons, with decreasing additional amounts for each person over the original recipient but with a fixed additional amount for each person over ten persons. Maryland has also adopted a 'maximum grant' regulation, Maryland Manual of the Department of Public Welfare, Part II, Rule 200, § VII, 1, which provides that, irrespective of the resulting figure after the resources of a family are deducted from its need as prescribed in the schedule, the maximum grant permitted under AFDC in Baltimore City is $250.00 per month. 2 The maximum grant regulation is applicable only to members of a family unit who live together; it does not apply to an eligible recipient who resides in another household or a childcare institution.

Plaintiffs have sued for themselves and on behalf of the class which they represent. Plaintiff Linda Williams resides with her eight children, who range in age from four years to sixteen. Their father is continuously absent from her home and she and one of her children are in poor health. They are totally without financial resources. This condition did not arise until some time after the birth of her youngest child. Under the standards of need, her family should receive benefits in the amount of $296.15 per month while, in fact, she is granted maximum welfare in the amount of $250.00 per month by reason of the application of the maximum grant regulation.

Plaintiffs Junius Gary and his wife live together with their eight children, who range in age from four years to eleven. Mr. Gary is totally disabled from working for medical reasons, and Mrs. Gary, who is required to remain at home to care for her children, is also in ill health. They are totally without financial resources. This condition did not arise until after the birth of their youngest child and until Mr. Gary became disabled for employment. According to the standards formulated by the Department of Public Welfare they should receive $331.50 per month for themselves and their eight children, but they are limited to a monthly grant of $250.00 by reason of the maximum grant regulation.

If Mrs. Williams were to place two of her children of twelve years or over with relatives, each child so placed would be eligible for assistance in the amount of $79.00 per month, and she and her six remaining children would still be eligible to receive the maximum grant of $250.00. If Mr. and Mrs. Gary were to place two of their children between the ages of

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six and twelve with relatives, each child so placed would be eligible for assistance in the amount of $65.00 per month, and they and their six remaining children would still be eligible to receive the maximum grant of $250.00.

From the testimony in the case, it appears that the maximum grant regulation has its genesis and rationale in the fact that the Governor and the General Assembly of Maryland have failed to appropriate sufficient funds for Maryland's share of the cost of AFDC to satisfy the state-determined need of all persons entitled to benefit thereunder. The purpose of the maximum grant regulation is solely to conserve state funds, by allocating state funds (less in amount than state-recognized need) among only some of the persons entitled thereto. Because the amount of federal funds to support AFDC is computed on the basis of the need of recipients, rather than the extent to which the State satisfies that need, the maximum grant regulation has the incidental effect of increasing the federal government's share of the cost of the total program beyond what would be the amount of that share had the maximum grant regulation not been adopted.

I

The history, the scope and the basic purposes of the AFDC program, initiated as part of the Social Security Act of 1935, are fully developed in King v. Smith, supra, to which reference is made for a fuller treatment. It suffices to state that while State participation in the scheme of cooperative federalism is voluntary on the part of each State, and while each State 'is free to set its own standard of need,' as well as 'to determine the level of benefits by the amount of funds it devotes to the program' (King v. Smith, supra, at 318-319, 88 S.Ct. at 2134), those which desire to take advantage of the substantial federal funds available for distribution to needy children are required to submit an AFDC plan for the approval of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. 42 U.S.C.A. § 601-604. 3 The plan, to be valid, must conform to the requirements of the Act and applicable regulations of the Secretary. 4

Section 402 of the Act, 42 U.S.C.A. 602, § sets forth the mandatory requirements of a state plan for aid and services to needy families with children. Inter alia, the plan must 'provide, effective July 1, 1951, that all individuals wishing to make application for aid to families with dependent children shall have opportunity to do so, and that aid to families with dependent children shall be furnished with reasonable promptness to all eligible individuals.' (Emphasis supplied.) The mandate is clear that, within the framework of state-determined standards of need, the State must meet those needs in regard to 'all eligible individuals.'

Who are 'eligible individuals' is supplied by other provisions of the Act. Section 401 of the Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 601, states that the legislative purpose of appropriations under AFDC is:

'For the purpose of encouraging the care of dependent children in their own homes or in the homes of relatives by enabling each State to furnish financial assistance and rehabilitation and other services, as far as practicable under the conditions in such State, to needy dependent children and the parents or relatives with whom

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they are living to help maintain and strengthen family life and to help such parents or relatives to attain or retain capability for the maximum self-support and personal independence consistent with the maintenance of continuing parental care and protection * * *.' 5

'Dependent child' is defined in § 406 of the Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C.A. 606(a). 6 Where there exists a 'dependent child,' the 'aid to families with dependent children,' which is the object of the legislation, is defined to include money payments or medical care to the relatives with whom the dependent child is living; and if that relative is a parent, to the spouse of such parent, under certain circumstances. 42 U.S.C.A. § 606(b). 7 The amount of such aid, under the circumstances just mentioned, is thus computed by treating the relative, parent of spouse of parent, as the case may be, of the 'dependent child' as a part of the family unit.

It will be noted that the definitions contain no limitation on eligibility by reason of the fact that one, who is otherwise a 'dependent child,' resides in a household with or without one or more other siblings or other persons. Nor do the definitions or any other portion of the Act 8 vest in any state the authority to embroider upon the definition of 'dependent child,' so as to insert conditions and limitations beyond those imposed by Congress. For practical purposes, Maryland's maximum grant regulation means (assuming that the family lacks other financial resources) that in computing the amount of an award, any dependent child in excess of the fourth dependent child living with both parents, or any dependent child in excess of the...

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