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Johnson v. Quern

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 7, 1980.

GUSSIE JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ARTHUR F. QUERN, DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. HAROLD L. JENSEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied December 11, 1980.

After wading through the sea of alphabet soup which typically surrounds governmental programs, we reverse.

This action comes before us through administrative review of a decision made by the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA), denying plaintiff's request for disability benefits under the Illinois program for Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD). The circuit court affirmed the IDPA's determination.

FACTS

On August 31, 1978, plaintiff filed an application with the IDPA in Champaign County for public assistance. Although our record does not contain a copy of the application, every indication we have is that plaintiff applied for only AABD. Again, although not explicitly evidence here, it appears as if plaintiff also filed an application with the Social Security Administration (SSA) for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). (42 U.S.C. § 1381 (1976).) Our record does not indicate when the application was filed with the SSA or whether plaintiff filed this application at the direction of the IDPA.

Based solely on plaintiff's AABD application, plaintiff was put on presumptive eligibility status (PE), pending a determination of disability by the SSA. The county department thus authorized, on October 18, 1978, interim assistance payments of $214.02.

On November 28, 1978, the IDPA was notified by the SSA that SSI payments had been denied to plaintiff because it was found that she was not disabled. On the same date, the IDPA denied plaintiff's application on the basis that the SSA had determined that she was not disabled and terminated the interim assistance effective January of 1979.

On December 7, 1978, plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with the IDPA and a hearing was held on January 10, 1979. At the hearing, the only question considered by the IDPA was whether SSA had in fact found that she was disabled. Counsel for the plaintiff attacked the policy of the IDPA which delegates the disability determination to the SSA. A final administrative decision denying the application for assistance was entered on February 1, 1979.

TRIAL COURT

On March 8, 1979, plaintiff filed a complaint under the Administrative Review Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.) In the complaint, plaintiff asserted that she was sufficiently disabled to qualify for medical and financial assistance under the AABD program and that the decision to deny her application was erroneous; that she was denied due process of law by the IDPA's refusal to continue her assistance payments pending appeal; and that she was denied due process since she was not allowed a hearing on the factual determination of her disability.

On March 3, 1980, the circuit court entered an order affirming the final administrative decision. The court framed two issues on appeal: whether the plaintiff had a statutory or administrative right to insist that Illinois make its own determination on the question of disability; and whether it was a violation of the IDPA's regulations of due process for the IDPA to terminate the interim assistance without a hearing.

On the first question, the trial court concluded that Illinois had instituted a State program to supplement fully the Federal SSI program. The court indicated that the State Supplemental Payments (SSP) were mandated by section 3-13 of the Public Aid Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 23, par. 3-13), and that for all practical purposes SSP and AABD are not the same program. The court concluded that under section 3-13 of the Public Aid Code the IDPA has the power to make regulations governing a determination of disability which it has done by delegation to the SSA. The court noted that the plaintiff predicated her contention for a separate State determination of her disability upon sections 3-1 and 3-4 of the Public Aid Code. The court found, however, that the passage of sections 3-13 and 3-14 established a unified complementary Federal-State program for aid to the disabled. The court determined that an administrative appeal of an adverse determination is provided by the Social Security Administration under provisions of 42 U.S.C.A. § 1383(c) (1976), and that an adequate safeguard is provided for the rights of the applicant.

On the second question, the trial court found that the Illinois Department makes a determination upon initial application that if the applicant is indeed determined to be disabled, then a certain monthly benefit would be applicable. Illinois then pays interim assistance but the applicant is not truly eligible until the determination of disability is made. The court also found that discontinuance of the interim payments is not a termination of a right or an entitlement when no disability is found. The court concluded that since the disability determination was being made by the Federal ...


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