In re: REDACTED
DCIS No.: REDACTED
REDACTED, pro se, Appellant
Barbara Gillen, Audit & Recovery Management Services (ARMS) Division of Management Services, Presenter
Willie Parker, Division of Social Services, Witness
REDACTED (sometimes hereinafter the "appellant") challenges an action by the Audit & Recovery Unit (sometimes "ARMS") to establish a claim to recover $816 in cash assistance that the appellant received from the Division of Social Services ("DSS") from August 2003 through December 2003.
ARMS asserts that the appellant "failed to report" work from Nurse Finders, Inc. and that, as a result, she received $816 in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to which she was not entitled.
The appellant contends that she reported her employment by facsimile transmission and in person to DSS and that she was unaware that the benefits she received were in incorrect amounts. She also maintains that the amount of the claim is incorrect as discussed below.
By notice dated April 17, 2005 ARMS announced a claim in the amount of $816. The claim is for the recovery of TANF benefits and is classified as resulting from the "fault" of the appellant by failing to report income from employment.
Thereafter the appellant filed a request for a fair hearing dated April 19, 2005
The hearing was conducted on June 29, 2005 at the Lewis Building at the Department of Health and Social Services in New Castle.
This is the result of the hearing.
The Department of Health and Social Services' rules at DSSM 7000 et seq. govern benefits overpaid or over issued to recipients of public assistance.
The Division of Social Services of the Department of Health and Social Services operates the TANF Program
The ARMS unit of the Division of Management Services of the Department of Health and Social Services collects claims.
There is no dispute that the appellant worked for Nurse Finders Inc. for a period of time in 2003. There is no dispute over the fact that the appellant received TANF assistance from DSS during the same period of time.
Based on the testimony received for the hearing I find that DSS did not take the amount of her wages from this employment into account in determining the amount of the TANF benefit it paid to her.
There is a dispute over whether the income was reported to DSS. The appellant's testimony is that she faxed a letter to DSS employee Willie Parker about her employment. She testified that she also appeared at an office of DSS to report the employment and also provided DSS with photocopies of her wage stubs.
In her request for a fair hearing she asked "please get my files and everything in my folder." The appellant's case record is not in evidence for this hearing. The DSS representative did not bring the record to the hearing. The appellant did not bring documentary evidence of her 2003 wages to the hearing. She says that she kept the records for a period of time but no longer has them. Her testimony is that she asked Nurse Finders to supply her with copies of her wage records for the hearing but does not have them.
I have no reason to doubt the appellant's testimony about her report about income change because the State did not offer any documentary or testimonial evidence to dispute her account. Consequently, I find that the appellant reported her employment and wage income from Nurse Finders to DSS in August 2003. The ARMS determinations that the appellant "failed to report" the employment and "failed to report" that she was working for Nurse Finders is unsupported in this hearing record.
Both ARMS and the appellant assert that attempts to secure documentary evidence of wage and employment information from Nurse Finders were unsuccessful. Therefore I accept the appellant's sworn testimony about the dates of her employment. I find that the appellant started employment with Nurse Finders on about August 18, 2003 and ended the employment on or about November 11, 2003. This makes the ARMS claim amount and the months covered by the claim overstated. It appears that the claim for the month of August 2003 is in error. In the absence of a wage statement, ARMS took an average of the quarterly wages from a Department of Labor wage record. It also appears that the last month of the claim is incorrect.
For the reasons given above, the decision by ARMS to establish a claim in the amount of $816 for the recovery of TANF benefits paid to the appellant by the Division of Social Services in 2003 is reversed.
The determinations by ARMS that the appellant "failed to report that she was working for Nurse Finders" [Exhibit # 2] "failed to report her new employment and earnings" [Exhibit # 3] are not supported by the hearing record and are vacated. The decision to classify the claim as one that resulted from the appellant's fault is reversed.
Since the appellant agrees that she was overpaid benefits for certain months, the action is remanded to ARMS for reconsideration in accordance with this decision and with the facts and rules governing TANF eligibility and claims.
Date: June 29, 2005
THE FOREGOING IS THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Barbara Gillen, ARMS
Will Garfinkel, ARMS
Exhibit # 1 is a photocopy of the appellant's request for a fair hearing.
Exhibit # 2 (approximately seven pages) is a photocopy of a Notice of TANF Overpayment dated April 17, 2005.
Exhibit # 3 (two pages) is an ARMS fair hearing summary dated May 9, 2005.