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Chicago Welfare Rights Org. v. Weaver

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 25, 1973.

CHICAGO WELFARE RIGHTS ORGANIZATION ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

EDWARD T. WEAVER ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook Couty; the Hon. Walter P. Dahl, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCHAEFER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 28, 1973.

This case is here on leave granted to appeal from a judgment of the Appellate Court, First District (5 Ill. App.3d 655), which reversed a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County. The substantive issue in the case concerned the correctness of the determination of the Director of the Department of Public Aid as to the maximum shelter allowance payable under the program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The circuit court ruled that the Director had ultimately determined the maximum shelter allowance correctly, but that he had unlawfully delayed in doing so. The court therefore ordered the defendants, the Director, the Auditor of Public Accounts, and the State Treasurer, to pay to recipients under the program the benefits which would have been payable but for the Director's unlawful delay in increasing the maximum allowance. Both the defendants and the plaintiffs appealed. The appellate court reversed the judgment and dismissed the cause, on the ground that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction because "the plaintiffs should have brought their suit in the Court of Claims." (5 Ill. App.3d 655, 660 (1972).) For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

In, order to understand the problems presented, an explanation of the Federal and State statutory schemes is necessary. The Social Security Act established the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Section 401 of that statute provides: "The sums made available under this section shall be used for making payments to States which have submitted, and had approved by the Secretary [of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare], State plans for aid and services to needy families with children." (42 U.S.C. § 601.) Section 402 states the elements necessary to qualify a plan for Federal funding and directs the Secretary to approve any plan which fulfills those conditions. (42 U.S.C. § 602.) Illinois has adopted a plan for which it receives Federal payments under this statute. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, par. 4-1 et seq.

In 1968 Congress added the following new requirement, hereafter referred to as section 402(a)(23):

"* * * that by July 1, 1969, the amounts used by the State to determine the needs of individuals will have been adjusted to reflect fully changes in living costs since such amounts were established, and any maximums that the State imposes on the amount of aid paid to families will have been proportionately adjusted." Pub. L. 90-248, sec. 213(b), 81 Stat. 898; 42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(23).

The Illinois statute authorizes the Department to:

"Establish standards by which need for public aid will be determined and amend such standards from time to time as circumstances may require." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, par. 12-4.11.

The statute continues:

"The standards shall provide a livelihood compatible with health and well-being for persons eligible for financial aid under any Article of this Code. They shall include recognition of any special needs * * *.

The quantity and quality of the items included in the standards established for food, clothing, and other basic maintenance needs shall take account of the buying and consumption patterns of self-supporting persons and families of low income, as determined from time to time by the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other nationally recognized research authorities in the fields of nutrition and family living.

The items in the standards shall be priced periodically for changes in cost, as provided in Section 12-4.15, and allowances adjusted as indicated by the findings of such surveys. * * *

In establishing a standard for shelter, the Department shall take in account in each community the prevailing rates or costs for housing of low income persons and the factors which influence the level of such rates or charges. However, the shelter standard for any recipient, exclusive of household furnishings and utilities, shall not exceed $90 per month, except for adjustments made in the manner authorized by Section 12-14." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, par. 12-4.11.

The Illinois statute thus provides separately for various expenses, and requires periodic adjustment in the allowance for some items to reflect increases in the cost of living. (Cf. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, par. 4-2.) Apparently the requirement of section 402(a)(23) was met as to those items, and they are not involved in this ...


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