Tuesday, March 23, 2010

welfare - MA - repayment - personal liability of surviving child

Maloy v. DPW - March 22, 2010


Decendent's son/executor held personally liable for MA overpayments made to his deceased father.

The statute governing this situation provides that when undisclosed property makes a recipient ineligible for benefits, leading to overpayment, “[r]epayment of the overpayment shall be sought from the recipient, the person receiving or holding such property, the recipient’s estate and/or survivors benefiting from receiving such property.” Section 1408(c)(6)(i) of the Public Welfare Code,3 62 P.S. § 1408(c)(6)(i).

The ALJ found that the undisclosed transfer of the interest in the decedent's property was for inadequate consideration, and that this transfer made the decedent ineligible for benefits in the amount of the transferred interest. These findings, especially the former, are not challenged on appeal.

As the person to whom the interest in the decedent's property was transferred, the son certainly qualifies as one from whom repayment may be sought, because he is a “person receiving or holding [the undisclosed] property” that rendered his father ineligible for benefits.

The son's sole argument before this court, essentially, is that it would be unfair to collect repayment from him rather than from the estate. There is nothing about the Department’s decision to collect repayment from the son that approaches abuse of discretion or arbitrariness. Not only is the collection of repayment expressly authorized, but it seems entirely appropriate, given that it was his actions that led to the overpayment. It was the son, in his role as guardian, who executed the transaction that made the father ineligible for benefits; it was the son who failed to report that transaction to the Department, leading to the overpayment; and it was the son who failed to spend the proceeds of that transaction on the needs of the father, as he was required to do.