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Decision by Division of State Service Centers ("DSSC") to deny Emergency Assistance


In re: DCIS No. Redacted Redacted

Appearances:
Redacted, pro se, Appellant
Patricia Emerson, Social Specialist II/Case Manager, Division of State Service Centers

I.

Redacted ("Appellant") opposes a decision by the Division of State Service Centers ("DSSC") to deny her application for Emergency Assistance for past due rent.

The Division of State Service Centers ("DSSC") contends that the Appellant does not qualify for Emergency Assistance because the payment of Emergency Assistance will not eliminate an emergency.

II.

On , DSSC sent to Appellant a notice

The Appellant filed a request for a fair hearing and requested that DSSC reconsider their denial of her Emergency Assistance application.

The Appellant was notified by certified letter dated February 10, 2005, that a fair hearing would be held on March 29, 2005. The hearing was conducted on that date in New Castle, Delaware.

This is the decision resulting from that hearing.

III.

The Appellant and her two children live in an apartment with rent of $600.00 per month. The Appellant's income is $538.00 per month, which consists of $338.00 from TANF and $200.00 from child support. Appellant's income is insufficient to cover her rent. Appellant's mother and uncle signed Verification of Contribution forms to financially assist the Appellant. Under the agreements, the mother and uncle each agreed to provide the landlord with $300.00 per month ($600.00 total) to subsidize Appellant's rent. Sometime during November 2004, the Appellant's mother developed a medical condition that required her to stop working and retire. During the period November 2004 and December 2004, Appellant's mother could no longer provide her $300.00 per month contribution because she was not working. Instead, the Appellant's mother was waiting for her retirement income to begin. Although the Appellant's uncle contributed extra funds during the November 2004 to December 2004 period, the Appellant incurred past due rent in the amount of $450.00. In January 2005, the Appellant's mother began providing the $300.00 contribution once again. Currently, the Appellant is able to pay her rent with the combined $600.00 contribution from her uncle and mother. The Appellant wishes DSS to provide Emergency Assistance to cover the $450.00 past due rent incurred while her mother was unable to contribute the promised partial rent payment.

Pursuant to Division of Social Services Manual ("DSSM") § 6000, "the purpose of Emergency Assistance is to avoid the destitution of a child or of a needy distressed resident of the State by providing payments, which eliminate or alleviate an emergency condition." DSSC contends that the Emergency Assistance will not eliminate the emergency. DSSC further maintains that the Appellant is receiving financial assistance for rent but her rent continues to be delinquent and that the Appellant's income alone is insufficient to maintain her household.

The Appellant's testimony reveals that the emergency period from November 2004 to December 2004 was an isolated period that requires assistance because an unexpected event, her mother's illness and subsequent inability to work, caused the past due rent to be incurred. Contrary to DSS's contention that the emergency assistance payment would not alleviate the emergency, the record indicates that the only remaining outstanding amount for this period is the $450.00 rental arrearage. The Appellant's mother and uncle are currently providing financial assistance to cover the Appellant's rent and Appellant's other income covers utility and other costs. Apparently, DSSC believes that the purpose of the emergency assistance is to put the Appellant back into a position where she can again maintain her own household without assistance from her mother or uncle.

Pursuant to DSSM § 6006 (3)(d), DSSC is to offer emergency assistance services to "provide temporary financial assistance to relieve distress." In the present case, the financial distress suffered by the Appellant arises from her past due rent. DSSM § 6006 does not provide that the emergency assistance service must eliminate all financial dependence; instead, it indicates that the emergency assistance is to provide temporary financial assistance. The Appellant's financial needs in this case were temporary. The rental shortfall only covered two months and has not continued past the end of December 2004.

Moreover, pursuant to DSSM § 6002 (4), "the emergency must have resulted from an unforeseen circumstance or combination of circumstances that are beyond the recipient's control . . . In making a decision, the limited resources of the recipient will be considered, except that no assistance will be authorized when the emergency was due to a recipient's failure to comply with a requirement of a Social Services program." In this case, the emergency arose from a combination of unforeseen circumstances that were beyond the Appellant's control, her mother's illness and subsequent loss of income when she was unable to work but could not receive her retirement fund immediately. DSSM § 6002 (4) provides the only exception that restricts emergency assistance by indicating that "no assistance will be authorized when the emergency was due to a recipient's failure to comply with a requirement of a Social Services program." DSSC has not raised an issue concerning the Appellant' failure to comply with the requirements of the Social Services program. To the contrary, the Appellant has provided documentation of contributions she receives from her mother and uncle revealing income she receives from outside sources. The exception found under DSSM § 6002 (4) does not apply to agreements to provide income contribution; instead, it applies to those who do not comply with DSS requirements. As a result, the Appellant has established that she requires temporary financial assistance that arose due to a combination of circumstances beyond the Appellant's control and the financial assistance will eliminate the remnants of her financial emergency.

IV.

For these reasons, the decision of the Division of Social Services to deny Appellant's Emergency Assistance application for past due rent is REVERSED.

Date: April 14, 2005

MICHAEL L. STEINBERG
HEARING OFFICER

THE FOREGOING IS THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES

POSTED
MLS/vmd

cc: Redacted
Patricia Emerson, DSSC

EXHIBITS FILED IN OR FOR THE PROCEEDING

  • EXHIBIT #1 - A copy of the DSS Fair Hearing Summary consisting of two (2) pages date-stamped February 2, 2005.
  • EXHIBIT #2 - A copy of the Appellant's request for a fair hearing dated stamped February 8, 2005, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #3 - A copy of Emergency Assistance Services Program Denial Notice, dated December 30, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.


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