45 N.Y.2d 460, Bates v. Toia

Citation:45 N.Y.2d 460, 410 N.Y.S.2d 265
Party Name:Bates v. Toia
Case Date:October 26, 1978
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
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Page 460

45 N.Y.2d 460

410 N.Y.S.2d 265

In the Matter of Charles W. BATES, Individually and as the Westchester County Commissioner of Social Services, Respondent,

v.

Philip L. TOIA, Individually and as the New York State Commissioner of Social Services, Appellant.

New York Court of Appeals

October 26, 1978.

Louis J. Lefkowitz, Atty. Gen. (Diane L. De Furio and Jean M. Coon, Albany, of counsel), for appellant.

Samuel S. Yasgur, County Atty. (Jonathan Lovett, White Plains, of counsel), for respondent.

OPINION OF THE COURT

COOKE, Judge.

We deal here with the validity of State regulations entitling an indigent woman to public assistance on behalf of her unborn child.

Petitioner, in his capacity as Westchester County Commissioner of Social Services, commenced this article 78 proceeding, later converted into an action for a declaratory judgment (CPLR 103, subd. (c)), to have [410 N.Y.S.2d 266] declared invalid certain Department of Social Services regulations. Those regulations (18 NYCRR 352.30(c), 360.5(g), 369.2(a)(1)(i)) permit eligible women to claim recurring Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) grants after the fourth month of a medically verified pregnancy.

Special Term held that respondent, the New York State Commissioner of Social Services, had not proceeded illegally in adopting the challenged regulations and, consequently, that the regulations were valid. A closelydivided Appellate Division reversed (60 A.D.2d 459, 463, 401 N.Y.S.2d 298, 301). We now reverse that determination.

The AFDC program is one of the four major categorical assistance plans provided for by the Social Security Act of 1935 (U.S.Code, tit. 42, § 301 Et seq.; see Rosado v. Wyman, 397 U.S. 397, 408, n. 10, 90 S.Ct. 1207, 25 L.Ed.2d 442). Fifty percent of the program is financed by the Federal Government, the remaining costs being divided equally between the State and the local public welfare district. Although State participation in the AFDC program is essentially voluntary, when a State does elect to participate it is required to submit an AFDC plan to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) for approval by the Secretary (U.S.Code, tit. 42, §§ 601-604; see Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 530, 94 S.Ct. 1372, 39 L.Ed.2d 577; Social Services Law, § 358, subd. 1). So long as its plan meets the requirements of the Federal act, a State is given considerable latitude in determining both the standard of need to be employed in ascertaining eligibility for benefits and the level of benefits to be paid to eligible recipients (Rosado v. Wyman, supra, 397 U.S. at p...

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