Elam v. Hanson, Civ. No. C 71-286.

Decision Date01 October 1974
Docket NumberCiv. No. C 71-286.
Citation384 F. Supp. 549
PartiesAnnette ELAM, mother of Victor Elam and Valance Elam, by next friend Callie Elam, and Barbara Hardison, mother of Bobbie Kris Hardison by next friend Jerene D. Hardison, all individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. John HANSON, Director of Public Welfare for the State of Ohio, and Donald Morrow, Director of Lucas County Welfare Department, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio

James M. Klein, University of Toledo, College of Law, Joseph F. Vargyas and C. Thomas McCarter, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Toledo, Ohio, Prof. Thomas F. Willging, Antioch College of Law, Washington, D. C., for plaintiffs.

Kevin Duffy, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, Joseph Jan, Toledo, Ohio, for defendants.

Willmot R. Hastings, Chief Counsel, H. E. W., Washington, D. C., Frank A. Justen, Asst. U. S. Atty., Toledo, Ohio, amicus curiae.


DON J. YOUNG, District Judge.

This cause came to be heard upon motion by plaintiffs for summary judgment. The parties indicate and the Court agrees that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, there being only a dispute of law. Therefore this case is ripe for summary adjudication pursuant to Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P.

Plaintiffs in the class action are residents of Lucas County, Ohio, who are recipients of state Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and also full-time students and receive, or are eligible for, federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) under 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i).1 All of the named plaintiffs have had their AFDC benefits, or eligibility for benefits, reduced by the amount of the monthly OASDI payments as a result of the Ohio Department of Public Welfare considering the amounts of OASDI as "available income" in computing the amount of family income for determining the need for and amount of welfare assistance.2

A consent judgment order was entered in this case on November 10, 1971, which found that the defendants should regard benefits received by persons between the ages of 18 and 22 under 42 U.S.C. § 402(d) (1) (B) (i) as not available to support minor children enrolled in the AFDC program, and further required the defendants to promulgate a regulation excluding all monies received under 42 U.S.C. § 402(d) (1) (B) (i) as "available income." This latter regulation was duly formulated as § 452.12, Manual Transmittal Letter No. 160, dated January 10, 1972. Apparently, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which is responsible for the administration of the federal program of providing matching funds under AFDC, took the position that the state regulation formulated as a result of the consent order raised a question of compliance with respect to federal law and regulation and that state payments under the policy were not subject to federal matching. Subsequently, defendants sought a vacation of the consent order by motion for relief from final order pursuant to Rule 60(b) (6), Fed.R.Civ.P. which was granted June 21, 1973 with a proviso by means of a preliminary injunction that the Ohio Department of Public Welfare enforce the provisions of § 452.12 of the Ohio Public Assistance Manual during the pendency of the suit.

The issue at the heart of this controversy is easily stated: whether monies received under the OASDI program is to be included within the available income definition for purposes of determining AFDC benefits. When viewed against the background of congressional purpose, the Court believes that this legal issue is easily resolved.

It is apparent from the statute3 and its legislative history that the purpose of OASDI payments under § 402(d)(1) is to defray the education expenses of recipients so that they can remain in school on a full-time basis. The legislative history states in part:

The committee believes that a child over age 18 who is attending school full time is dependent just as a child under 18 or a disabled older child is dependent, and that it is not realistic to stop such a child's benefit at age 18. A child who cannot look to a father for support (because the father has died, is disabled, or is retired) is at a disadvantage in completing his education as compared with the child who can look to his father for support. Not only may the child be prevented from going to college by loss of parental support and loss of his benefits; he may even be prevented from finishing high school or going to a vocational school. With many employers requiring more than a high school education as a condition for employment, education beyond the high school level has become almost a necessity in preparing for work.
The committee believes it is now appropriate and desirable to provide social security benefits for children between the ages of 18 and 22 who are full-time students and who have suffered a loss of parental support.
S.Rep.No.404, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965) (U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 1943, pp. 2036-2037 (1965)).

As one court stated:

It is apparent that the purpose of the full-time student provision of Section 202(d) of the Act 42 U.S.C. § 402(d) is to help defray the expenses of those students attending educational institutions on a full-time basis. Miller v. Richardson, 320 F.Supp. 313, 316 (S.D.W.Va.1970).

From the construction of the statute itself it is abundantly clear, and the Court so finds, that Congress sought to provide the OASDI recipient with funds for obtaining an education. OASDI benefits to eligible children normally terminate when the recipient attains the age of 18. However, the benefits for a child under OASDI continues between the ages of 18 and 22 whenever the child is a full-time student. If the child over 18 ceases to be a full-time student, the OASDI benefits under § 402 (d) terminate. It is thus plain from the expressed intent of Congress in the legislative history and the statutory language enacted that OASDI benefits under § 402(d) (1) (B) (i) are intended to provide education for the recipient.

The present litigation was instituted because it appeared that the purpose of § 402(d) (1) (B) (i) was being frustrated by the policy of the Ohio Department of Public Welfare, in compliance with HEW standards, of including within the meaning of "available income" for the purposes of AFDC the amounts received of OASDI recipients under § 402(d) (1) (B) (i). It is thus the case of persons 18 to 22, receiving assistance under OASDI who are unmarried and full-time students eligible also for AFDC for their dependent children, being deprived supplementary assistance of the welfare program because they are attempting to get an education. Such an interpretation of the interaction of the OASDI program and AFDC programs defeats the purpose of both programs.4 One program, OASDI under § 402(d) (1) seeks to aid a recipient in obtaining an education while the other program, AFDC, seeks to assist in the care of dependent children in their own homes or the home of a relative.

The Court must attempt to enforce both applicable statutes in such a manner that the overriding purposes of the two statutes are achieved, even if the words used in the laws and regulations leave room for a contrary interpretation. See Markham v. Cabell, 326 U.S. 404, 66 S.Ct. 193, 90 L.Ed. 165 (1945). Many cases have pointed out that the Social Security Act is a remedial statute, to be broadly construed and liberally applied. See e. g., Haberman v. Finch, 418 F.2d 664, 667 (2d Cir. 1969); Conklin v. Celebrezze, 319 F.2d 569 (7th Cir. 1963).

Broadly interpreting the statutes at issue in this case to achieve the purposes intended by Congress, the Court concludes that monies received from OASDI pursuant to § 402(d) (1) (B) (i) should be excluded from the income and resources of the family for the purposes of determining eligibility and level of supports under AFDC provisions of 42 U. S.C. § 602(a) and regulations promulgated thereunder. The Court concludes that OASDI benefits under § 402(d) (1) (B) (i) are the same as funds received under the federal Work Study Program, 42 U.S.C. § 2751 et seq. This Court has previously held in Brown v. Bates, 363 F.Supp. 897 (N.D.Ohio 1973) that work study monies should be excluded from calculation of available income under AFDC. The concluding remarks of the Brown opinion are equally appropriate to this case.

The welfare system in this country has come under attack from almost every corner. The Court, bound by the limitations of this opinion, will not defend nor attack the system as it presently operates. But the Court does believe that the purpose of the Work-Study Program as enacted by Congress is to provide finances, through employment, for needy students who desire an education. If the money gained by participation in the Work-Study Program is then used to further decrease grants under other federal assistance programs, the incentive of the Work-Study Program is greatly diminished. Congress, through the Work-Study Program, has attempted to provide a vehicle for the indigent to use to escape the poverty cycle. If the money earned by the participants in the Work-Study Program is applied against other assistance programs, that vehicle's utility is much weakened, and in many cases totally destroyed. The Court does not believe Congress chose by enactment of the Work-Study Program to draw the cycle of poverty tighter, but rather was attempting to break its bonds upon untrained poor. The Court will not allow the defendants to defeat this beneficient purpose by their own interpretation of the law, especially when that interpretation, however faithful it may be to the letter of the law, totally defeats the spirit of the law, and serves only a sterile administrative purpose. 363 F.Supp. at 902-903.

In this case, the Court does not believe that Congress could have intended by one project to aid OASDI recipients who desire education by...

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