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Watterson v. Miller





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Arthur D. Nicol, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied October 20, 1983.

This appeal presents yet another situation in the seemingly interminable freshet of litigation concerning eligibility for public aid following a declaration of ineligibility under the Federal social security system. The matter has been previously litigated many times. (See Johnson v. Quern (1980), 90 Ill. App.3d 151, 412 N.E.2d 1082; Carroll v. Miller (1983), 116 Ill. App.3d 311.) With the signing by Governor Thompson of Public Act 83-0193 on August 31, 1983, we believe that most of the problems have been laid to rest.

Plaintiff filed a class action suit in the circuit court of Champaign County seeking a mandamus against the defendants, the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid and the Illinois Department of Public Aid and the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA). In it she alleged that she had applied to IDPA for financial and medical assistance under the Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled program (AABD) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 23, par. 3-1 et seq.) and that her application had been approved on a presumptive eligibility basis pending a decision on her claim of disability; she then began receiving financial assistance as well as a medical eligibility card. She further alleged that thereafter an adverse disability determination had been made in her case by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It appeared that such an application to the SSA must be made simultaneously with the application for AABD under the appropriate regulations of IDPA. Upon that determination by SSA, IDPA notified her that it was terminating her assistance under AABD. That notice was sent to her on November 3, 1982; she alleged that within 10 days she appealed that decision under the pertinent regulations of IDPA, but notwithstanding Rule 7.03 of IDPA, which provides that assistance shall continue during the appeal process if filed within 10 calendar days, her assistance was terminated.

Plaintiff's complaint asked for a judgment of mandamus on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated requiring the defendants to continue providing assistance at the level previously in effect pending the results of the appeal hearing to determine the question of disability. The defendants moved to deny class certification and to dismiss the complaint. The parties stipulated that the facts alleged in the complaint were true. The trial court denied both motions. It granted class certification and awarded a judgment of mandamus basing its decision principally on Johnson. Defendants have appealed, raising as issues the propriety of mandamus and the certification of the class action.

• 1 The history of the legislation and the interplay between AABD and the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) of the Federal government have been exhaustively delineated in Johnson and Carroll and no necessity exists for a vain repetition of it here. Suffice it to say, it was held in Johnson that they are separate programs and that a finding under SSI of non-disability does not foreclose assistance under AABD. Carroll held that mandamus was the proper remedy to obtain assistance during the pendency of the appeal process.

• 2 As we have intimated above, Public Act 83-0193 has made much of the controversy academic. Johnson held that sections 3-1 through 3-12 of the Illinois Public Aid Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 23, pars. 3-1 through 3-12) constituted one program and that sections 3-13 through 3-15 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 23, pars. 3-13 through 3-15) constituted another and that a finding by the Federal government under the latter was not conclusive of the question of assistance under the former. Public Act 83-0193, which was Senate Bill 1061 in the 83rd General Assembly, added language to sections 3-1, 3-1.2 and 3-4 of the Code as follows:

To section 3-1 (Eligibility Requirements):

"The Illinois Department shall administer a State program under this Article to provide interim assistance to applicants for the federal Supplemental Security Income program who have not received a final determination and certification under this Article."

To section 3-1.2 (Need):

"The Illinois Department may, after appropriate investigation, establish and implement a consolidated standard to determine need and eligibility for an amount of benefits under this Article or a uniform cash supplement to the federal Supplemental Security Income program for all or any part of the then current recipients under this Article; provided, however, that the establishment or implementation of such a standard or supplement shall not result in reductions in benefits under this Article for the then current recipients of such benefits."

To section 3-4 (Examination as to Disability):

"The Illinois Department may accept determinations as to disability performed under the auspices of the Federal Social Security Administration and properly certified to the Department. The Department shall not consider such determinations final if they have been appealed until a determination is made by an administrative law judge. Furthermore, the Department shall not terminate assistance provided under this Article until there has been such a final determination and certification."

It is at once apparent that these amendments unify the two programs and authorize acceptance of the Federal ...

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