899 P.2d 969 (Idaho 1995), 21334, Willig v. State, Dept. of Health & Welfare

Docket Nº:21334.
Citation:899 P.2d 969, 127 Idaho 259
Opinion Judge:JOHNSON,
Party Name:Delores WILLIG, Appellant-Appellant on Appeal, v. STATE of Idaho, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & WELFARE, Respondent-Respondent on Appeal.
Attorney:Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., Lewiston, for appellant. Randall W. Robinson argued. Alan G. Lance, Atty. Gen., Boise; Marcy J. Spilker, Deputy Atty. Gen., Lewiston, for respondent. Marcy J. Spilker argued.
Judge Panel:McDEVITT, C.J., and TROUT, SILAK, and SCHROEDER, JJ., concur.
Case Date:July 10, 1995
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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Page 969

899 P.2d 969 (Idaho 1995)

127 Idaho 259

Delores WILLIG, Appellant-Appellant on Appeal,

v.

STATE of Idaho, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & WELFARE, Respondent-Respondent on Appeal.

No. 21334.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Lewiston.

July 10, 1995

Page 970

[127 Idaho 260] Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., Lewiston, for appellant. Randall W. Robinson argued.

Alan G. Lance, Atty. Gen., Boise; Marcy J. Spilker, Deputy Atty. Gen., Lewiston, for respondent. Marcy J. Spilker argued.

JOHNSON, Justice.

This is a welfare benefits case. We conclude that the claimant did not prove the necessary elements of equitable or quasi estoppel to prevent the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) from collecting an overpayment of welfare benefits which was attributable to IDHW's error. Therefore, we do not address whether estoppel may ever be applied against IDHW in these circumstances.

I.

THE BACKGROUND AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS.

In June 1991, Delores Willig applied to IDHW for Aid to Families with Dependent Children benefits (AFDC benefits) for her two orphaned granddaughters (the children). Willig sought a "grandparent grant" under which her income would not be attributed to the children. IDHW determined that Willig was entitled to $251 per month for the two children, and began disbursing payments.

In August 1991, the Social Security Administration notified Willig that the children were entitled to a $191.25 lump sum death benefit, plus social security (SS) benefits of $88 per month dating from May 1991. Willig provided IDHW with the SS statement on August 15, 1991. She later submitted the initial SS check to IDHW.

Under IDHW regulations, the children's AFDC benefits should have been reduced by the full amount of their SS benefits. IDAPA §§ 16.03.01312, 16.03.01423 (1994). The IDHW employee handling Willig's case mistakenly thought, however, that the SS benefits belonged to Willig, not the children, and therefore she did not reduce the children's AFDC benefits. IDHW caught the mistake during an eligibility review conducted in June 1992. As a result of the employee's error, IDHW overpaid Willig $1370 in AFDC benefits between June 1991 and June 1992.

IDHW informed Willig in April 1993 that it would seek to recover the overpayment. According to federal law, with which state AFDC programs must comply in order to receive federal funds, IDHW must try to collect all...

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