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J.S. v. New Jersey Dept. of Human Services

Decided: June 22, 1994.

J.S., APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF FAMILY DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development.

Before Judges Brody, Stern and Keefe.

Brody

The opinion of the court was delivered by BRODY, P.J.A.D.

This is an appeal from a decision of the Director of the Division of Family Development in the Department of Human Services. The Director upheld the determination of the Mercer County Board of Social Services. The Board had notified appellant that because his household income exceeded the allowable maximum, his household would no longer be eligible to receive food stamps. Appellant's household consists of himself, his wife and two children. His household income exceeds the maximum only if it

includes $390 a month that his employer withholds under a court order for the support of four children of appellant's first marriage. Those children live in New York with their mother. The Director rejected the initial decision of an administrative law Judge who had held that the sum withheld by appellant's employer is to be excluded from his household income when considering eligibility for food stamps. We conclude that the Director correctly interpreted the applicable statute.

The Food Stamps Program, which is federally funded, is designed to "alleviate . . . hunger and malnutrition" among the members of low-income households. 7 U.S.C.A. § 2011. The nationwide program is administered by state agencies pursuant to state statutes and regulations that are required to track federal statutes and regulations promulgated by the United States Secretary of Agriculture. 7 U.S.C.A. § 2014(b). The maximum allowable household income for households to be eligible for the program is expressed in the federal statute as "all income from whatever source" reduced by specified exclusions, a standard deduction tied to the Consumer Price Index, and specified deductions. 7 U.S.C.A. § 2014(d) and (e).

One of the § 2014(d) exclusions is for "(6) moneys received and used for the care and maintenance of a third-party beneficiary who is not a household member." The corresponding New Jersey regulation, N.J.A.C. 10:87-5.9 (a)(10), provides in relevant part:

Only the following shall be excluded from household income; no other income shall be excluded.

Money received and used for the care and maintenance of a third-party beneficiary who is not a household member shall be excluded.

The issue before us is whether payments from income by a household member to a nonhousehold member to satisfy a legal child-support obligation are excludable from the payor's household income as "money received and used for the care and maintenance

of a third-party beneficiary who is not a household member." The case ...


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