421 U.S. 338 (1975), 74-453, Van Lare v. Hurley

Docket Nº:No. 74-453
Citation:421 U.S. 338, 95 S.Ct. 1741, 44 L.Ed.2d 208
Party Name:Van Lare v. Hurley
Case Date:May 19, 1975
Court:United States Supreme Court

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421 U.S. 338 (1975)

95 S.Ct. 1741, 44 L.Ed.2d 208

Van Lare



No. 74-453

United States Supreme Court

May 19, 1975

Argued March 26, 1975




Petitioners in No. 74-5054 brought class actions in two District Courts challenging New York's "lodger" regulations, which require a pro-rata reduction in shelter allowance of a family receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) solely because a parent allows a nonlegally responsible person to reside in the home. Petitioners claimed that the state regulations conflicted with a provision of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 606(a), which, in relevant part, defines a dependent child as one

who has been deprived of parental support or care by reason of the death, continued absence from the home, or physical or mental incapacity of a parent,

and an implementing regulation, 45 CFR § 233.90(a), which provides that, in determining a child's financial eligibility and the amount of the assistance payment "the income only of the [legally obligated] parent . . . will be considered available . . . in the absence of proof of actual contributions." Petitioners also contended that the state regulations were violative of due process and equal protection. Each District Court held that the New York regulations were in conflict with the federal statutory and regulatory provisions. The Court of Appeals held that there was no such conflict, and reversed the judgments and remanded the cases for convention of a three-judge court to decide the constitutional challenges. That court sustained petitioners' due process claim. This Court noted probable jurisdiction of the appeal from the three-judge court holding (No. 74-453), and granted certiorari in the case of the judgment of the Court of Appeals (No. 74-5054).

Held: The New York "lodger" regulations, which are based on the assumption that the nonpaying lodger is contributing to the welfare of the household, without inquiry into whether he, in fact, does

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so, violate the Social Security Act and implementing regulations. [95 S.Ct. 1742] Pp. 344-348.

(a) A State is barred from assuming that nonlegally responsible persons will apply their resources to aid the welfare child, King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309; Lewis v. Martin, 397 U.S. 552, yet under the New York regulations, the nonpaying lodger's mere presence results in a decrease in benefits though he may contribute nothing to the needy child. Pp. 346-347.

(b) The New York regulations cannot be justified on the ground that the lodger's presence establishes the existence of excess space, because, if that [95 S.Ct. 1744] were so, the allowance would remain reduced after the lodger leaves, which is not the case. P. 347.

(c) The regulations do not prohibit lodgers from living in welfare homes, and therefore cannot be justified on the ground that they are designed to prevent lodgers (who are ineligible for welfare) from receiving welfare benefits. Pp. 347-348.

No. 7453, 380 F.Supp. 167, vacated and remanded; No. 74-5054, 497 F.2d 1208, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and DOUGLAS, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 348.

BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented is whether New York regulations reducing pro rata the shelter allowance provided recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to the extent there are nonpaying lodgers living

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in the household conflict with the Social Security Act and federal regulations. We conclude that the state provisions conflict with federal law, and are therefore invalid. King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309. (1968); Lewis v. Martin, 397 U.S. 552 (1970); Townsend v. Swank, 404 U.S. 282 (1971).


AFDC is a categorical public assistance program established by the Social Security Act of 1935. Its operation has been described in several recent opinions. See, e.g., Rosado v. Wyman, 397 U.S. 397, 408 (1970); King v. Smith, supra at 313. AFDC provides federal funds to States on a matching funds basis to aid the

needy child . . . who has been deprived of parental support or care by reason of the death, continued absence from the home, or physical or mental incapacity of a parent, and who is living with

any of the several listed relatives. 42 U.S.C. § 606(a). States that seek to qualify for federal AFDC funding must operate a program not in conflict with the Social Security Act. Townsend v. Swank, supra at 286.

Each of the petitioners in No. 754-054 receives AFDC on behalf of herself and her minor children. This includes a shelter allowance computed as an item of need separate from other necessities such as food and clothing. N.Y.Soc.Serv.Law § 131-a. Each petitioner's shelter allowance was reduced by New York officials because she allowed a person not a recipient of AFDC and who had no legal obligation to support her family to reside in the household.1 The reduction was authorized by New York regulations which provide:

18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 352.31:

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(a) For applicant or recipient.

* * * *

(3) When a female applicant or recipient is living with a man to whom she is not married, other than on an occasional or transient basis, his available income and resources shall be applied in accordance with the following:

* * * *

(iv) When the man is...

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