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13 N.J.A.R. 121

M., R. v. Hudson County Welfare Agency
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Citation: 13 N.J.A.R. 121
Decision Date: 1990
Synopsis: Petitioner's application for emergency assistance was denied by the Hudson County welfare agency. He requested a hearing and the matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law as a contested case. R.M. was 62 years old and unable to work because of a back injury. After his injury, R.M. received General Assistance (GA) and emergency shelter assistance (EA) through the Jersey City municipal welfare department. When R.M. began receiving Social Security re- tirement (SSA) benefits, the municipality discontinued his GA and EA assistance. R.M. then applied to the Hudson County welfare agency for EA pursuant to N.J..,I.C. 10:83-1.2. The county denied his application because EA assistance under N.J..,I.C. 10:83-1.2 is limited to recipients of SSI. R.M.'s application for SSI on grounds of disabili- ty had been denied. The administrative law judge assigned to the case concluded that the regulation's silence as to the EA eligibility of SSA recipients did not mean that SSA recipients were to be automatically excluded from EA eligibility. He reasoned that in the context of the State commit- ment to assist the homeless, R.M. should not remain without as- sistance because his specific situation did not seem to be covered by the regulations. The judge thus recommended that the county welfare agency be directed to provide emergency assistance. On review, the DirectoF of the Division of Economic Assistance rejected this initial decision. The Director found that R.M. did not qualify for emergency assistance under any of the applicable regu- lations, which at the county level limit EA to those who are eligible for either Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or SSI benefits, and at the municipal level limit EA to persons eligible for General Assistance. Because R.M. was not eligible for AFDC, SSI R.M.v. Hudson Co. Welfare Agency or GA, he could not be eligible for EA. The Director accordingly affirmed the county welfare agency's denial of R.M.'s application. The Director, however, stated that it would be proper for the county welfare agency to help R.M. find housing assistance through other agencies, including public and private shelters. Before ruling on the merits of the EA claim, the Director ruled that the Division's failure to issue a final decision within the three- day period prescribed by N.J.//. C. 1:10-12.2 did not result in the initial decision's becoming the agency final decision by default. The Director noted that while the Administrative Procedure Act and the OAL rules provide for such a result after 45 days, neither directs such a result after any lesser period. The Director held alternatively that in any event the decision could be modified pursuant to the Division's in- herent authority of administrative review. David Sciarra, Deputy Public Advocate, for petitioner (Thomas S. Smith, Jr., Acting Public Advocate, attorney) Rody J. Costanzo, Assistant County Counsel, for respondent
Rule(s) Cited: 1:1-18.8 1:10-12.2 10:83-1.2 
Statute(s) Cited: 44:7-12