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T., Z.; Mercer County Welfare Board v

Cite As 1 N.J.A.R. 158

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MERCER COUNTY WELFARE BOARD,
Petitioner,
V.
"Z.T.",
Respondent.
Decided September 8,1980
Initial Decision
SYNOPSIS
Relying on N.J.A.C. 10:81-3.41 which requires the repayment of welfare
benefits from liquidated resources and an "Agreement to Repay" signed by
the petitioner, a local county welfare board sought to recover $4,000 in
benefits paid from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program
from funds received from the settlement of an automobile accident suit. The
petitioner refused to do so, claiming that when she signed the Agreement,
she had been told that if she were not receiving assistance when she received
the settlement funds she would not have to repay any money.
The administrative law judge found that in 1977 when petitioner applied
for AFDC benefits, she signed the Agreement to Repay by which she agreed
to repay welfare benefits from the anticipated funds arising out of an
automobile accident as required by N.J.A.C. 10:81-3.38(a)1i. The judge
noted that the regulations require repayment even if the individual is no
longer currently receiving AFDC benefits. The administrative law judge
found that no credible evidence had been presented which indicated that
petitioner had been exempted from this requirement. Accordingly, the
petitioner was ordered to repay welfare benefits from the proceeds of her
accident settlement.
Barbara Krisak, Mercer County Welfare Board
Robert C. Leventhal, Esq. for Respondent
GEIGER, ALJ:
Mercer County Welfare Board made an administrative determination
ordering respondent to repay assistance received, pursuant to regulations
contained in N.J.A .C. 10:81-3.38(a).
The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for
determination as a contested case, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 52:14F-1 et seq.
Respondent requested a hearing on June 13,1980. After notice to all
parties, a hearing was held on August 4, 1980, in the Office of

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Administrative Law, Trenton, New Jersey. The issue is the request by the
Mercer County Welfare Board for repayment of Aid to Families with
Dependent Children (AFDC) because of monies respondent received
through the settlement of an au:omobile accident suit and an "Agreement
to Repay" signed in October 1977. The amount of money claimed by the
Mercer County Welfare Bo,rd is $4014.00. The regulation cited by the
agency is as follows:
The county welfare agency shull: at the time of application or when
existence of a resource becomes known to the CWA, .inform the
parent(s) or other payee cf assistance.granted to the eligible unit of the
obligations relative to a potential resource, the need for liquidation and
repayment as applicable. ,?.J.A.C. 10:81-3.38(a).
The administrative law judge notes that N.J.A.C. 10:81-3.41(a) reads in
part as follows:
Upon liquidation of a resource lbr which a valid Agreement to Repay
exists, regardless of whether or not the persons involved are receiving
assistance at the time, the CWA will evaluate the situation. Upon a
showing that, by release of the funds and only by release of the funds,
the household can reasonably bc expected to remain off the assistance
roles indefinitely, the CWA may, with approval of the State office,
release the funds to the household. In all other instances the CWA will,
subject to thc spccial provisions bclow, pursue the rccovery of the
lesser of following amounts...
Further note is taken of the following section contained in N.J.S.A.
44:10-4:
Any payments from the settlement of such claim or interest legally
or equitably owned by such child or by either or both of his parents
made by any person acting for or on behalf of such parent or parents,
or relative, subsequent to notice of claim of the county welfare agency
and prior to express wrkten approval by the county welfare agency
shall cause such person to be liable to the county welfare agency in the
amount of such payment.
Respondent's attorney acknowledged that respondent had signed a Form
PA-10D, "Agreement to Repay," during the time she was an AFDC
recipient. The form itself states that the respondent anticipated certain funds
by virtue of a claim against two men with whom she had an automobile
accident in 1977. However the attorney stated that at the time respondent
executed the Form PA- 10D, sh? was told by the agency worker that if she
were not on assistance when the case was settled she would not have to repay
any money. (It is noted that the agency worker who witnessed the
respondent's signature on the form in question no longer works for the
agency and was not available to testily.) Respondent's attorney also stated

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that he felt the amount of money claimed by the Welfare Board was incorrect
since it represented not only the money she received for herself personally
but also the money she received for the support of her two children. Since
the accident claim was for herself, he felt the amount received for her
children should be excluded from repayment. Lastly, he argued that if
respondent were not required to repay the $4014.00 requested by the
agency, she would be able to remain off the assistance roles indefinitely.
The agency representative stated that there is no notation anywhere on
the PA-10D signed by the respondent showing that there was a private
agreement between her and an agency worker that she would not have to
repay if her law suit was settled during the time she was off assistance.
Furthermore, by signing the PA-10D the respondent received benefits she
would not have otherwise been able to obtain had she refused to sign it. The
argument of collateral estoppel advanced by respondent's attorney therefore
cannot be applied in this instance. Secondly, Form PA-10D states that, in
accordance with N.J.S.A. Title 44, Chapter I0, assistance granted will be
repaid. No distinction is made between assistance given to the parent and
assistance given to the child. Lastly, the Mercer County Welfare Board is
requesting the repayment of only $4014.00, monies received during the
period October 1977 through December 1979. Respondent has been on and
off AFDC since 1968 and has received an amount in excess of $15,000.00.
During the hearing, respondent testified that she is employed as a key punch
operator earning $172.00 weekly and pays a rental amount of $346.00
monthly. Currently she is supporting herself and her two children, ages
eleven and nine. The agency representatives argue that in no way would
releasing $4014.00 enable respondent to stay off welfare indefinitely as in
the exception described under N.J.A.C. 10:81-3.41(a). Furthermore the
county welfare agency has not obtained the approval of the State office to
release the funds to the household under the exception. Based upon the
foregoing, I FIND:
1. Respondent executed as required the Form PA-10D. She did so at a
time when she was a recipient of AFDC and no evidence was presented that
she was given any exemption to the requirements of repayment.
2. The language of N.J.S.A. 44:10-4 is clear that whichever member of
the eligible unit receives the proceeds of a suit or claim, the amount of
assistance received by the eligible unit is the amount to be repaid.
3. The amount of money to be repaid, namely $4014.00, does not appear
to be sufficient to enable respondent and her two children to remain off the
assistance roles indefinitely.
Based upon the facts adduced at the hearing in this proceeding and the
applicable regulations, I CONCLUDE pursuant to the above quoted

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regulations and statute, that the action of the Mercer County Welfare Board
in requiring repayment of $4014 is correct and is AFFIRMED.
After reviewing this Initial Decision, the Division of
Public Welfare on September 29, 1980 issued the following
Final Decision:
The Initial Decision is accepted and the action of the county welfare
agency is affirmed.