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Tufaro v. Department of Human Services

Decided: July 19, 1982.

JANE TUFARO, RESPONDENT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, ANN KLEIN, COMMISSIONER, DIVISION OF PUBLIC WELFARE, G. THOMAS RITI, DIRECTOR, BERGEN COUNTY WELFARE BOARD, EDWARD TESTA, DIRECTOR, APPELLANTS. LINDA ANZALONE, RESPONDENT, V. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, ANN KLEIN, COMMISSIONER, DIVISION OF PUBLIC WELFARE, G. THOMAS RITI, DIRECTOR, BERGEN COUNTY WELFARE BOARD, EDWARD TESTA, DIRECTOR, APPELLANTS



On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

For modification and remandment -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Pashman, Clifford, Schreiber, Handler, Pollock and O'Hern. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Pollock, J.

Pollock

[90 NJ Page 539] These appeals present the question whether the food stamp allotments of two welfare mothers attending a county college may be reduced because they receive federal and state aid for transportation, books and supplies, child care, and other education expenses. The outcome depends on whether the education grants are "income" within the meaning of the food stamp regulations, which require that general education grants be

"specifically earmarked by the grantor for education expenses rather than for living expenses." 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(5)(iv). If not so specifically earmarked, the recipients' income is increased by the grants and their food stamp allotments may be reduced.

In separate decisions the Appellate Division concluded that the allotments of both Tufaro and Anzalone could not be reduced because they had proved that the grants were actually spent on education-related expenses. Therefore, that court remanded both matters for supplementary proceedings. We granted certification in both Tufaro and Anzalone, 89 N.J. 393 (1981), and we now modify the judgments of the Appellate Division and remand the matters to the Division of Public Welfare in the Department of Human Services (the Division).

I

In 1979-80, plaintiffs, Tufaro and Anzalone, received Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 601-15; § 1396 (1974 & Cum.Supp.1975-81); food stamps, 7 U.S.C.A. §§ 2011-29 (Supp.1982); and education grants to support their attendance at Bergen County Community College (County College). The education grants derived from several programs designed to enable qualified students who demonstrate financial need to attend college: the federal Basic Education Opportunity Grant program (BEOG), 20 U.S.C.A. § 1070a (1978 & Supp.1982); the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program (SEOG), 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1070b to 1070b-3 (1978 & Supp.1982); the federal College Work-Study Program (CWSP), 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 2751-56b (Supp.1982); the state Tuition Aid Grant program (TAG), N.J.S.A. 18A:71-41 to -49 (Supp.1981-82); and the state Educational Opportunity Fund program (EOF), N.J.S.A. 18A:71-31 to -40 (1968). Tufaro received $1,888 in grants and Anzalone received grants of $2,108

and $802.82 in earnings through CWSP.*fn1 As required at the time, both Tufaro and Anzalone signed affidavits verifying that they would use the funds only for education expenses. See 20 U.S.C.A. § 1088g (1978) (repealed by Pub.L.No. 96-374, Title IV, 94 Stat. 1443, 20 U.S.C.A. § 1091(a)(5) (Supp.1982), which merely requires a certification that the funds will be used for educational expenses). The federal and state departments of education paid the funds directly to County College, which deducted tuition costs and distributed the balance of the money to the recipients together with memoranda itemizing their education costs.

With respect to Tufaro, County College itemized the following education costs: tuition and fees ($575); books and supplies ($200); and transportation ($700). The County Welfare Board (Board), which administers the food stamp program on behalf of the Division, reviewed her food stamp allocation in light of the grants. The Board accepted County College's determination of the expenses for tuition and books, but it allowed only $300 for transportation, based on 16 cents per mile for an estimated 10 miles. Therefore, it determined Tufaro was entitled to an exclusion totaling $1,075. Subtracting that figure from $1,888 in total education grants, the Board claimed $807 was income to Tufaro. It then allocated $807 over the nine months of the school year to arrive at an $89 monthly increase in income. That increase led

the Board to reduce her monthly food stamp allotment from $84 to $64.

Tufaro had a different view of her education expenses. In addition to tuition, books, and supplies, she claimed that her transportation expenses, including gas, insurance, and car repair for nine months, were $885.94. She also claimed that she incurred the following additional expenses: typewriter and xerox ($76), field trips ($80), gym outfit ($96), and babysitting ($104). She computed the total of her education expenses at $2,041.94 and contended that, because that sum exceeded her total education grants of $1,888, she had no real increase in income. Consequently, she asked for a hearing on the reduction in her food stamp allocation.

After a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) reversed the Board's decision to reduce Tufaro's food stamp benefits. The ALJ allowed a standard monthly deduction for child care expenses, 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(d)(4), and calculated transportation expenses at 16 cents per mile based on Tufaro's actual 16-mile commute to County College, and not the estimated 10 miles used by the Board.

Both parties filed exceptions to the ALJ's recommendation. Tufaro alleged that her actual travel expenses were $885 and that a mileage allowance of 16 cents per mile was arbitrary. Furthermore, she claimed that to the extent child care was necessary for her education, the grant money spent for that purpose should be an excludable reimbursement. The Board also filed exceptions, alleging, among other things, that the ALJ improperly deducted Tufaro's expenses for typing, tutoring, and a gym outfit. The Division ...


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