Justia California Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Public Benefits
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The Supreme Court held that a Section 8 beneficiary's compensation for providing in-home care for a severely disabled adult daughter should be excluded from income in calculating the rental subsidy.Plaintiff had an adult daughter who was severally disabled and required constant supervision. Plaintiff and her daughters received housing assistance through Section 8 of the United States Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq., and Plaintiff received compensation to provide in-home supportive care for her disabled daughter through the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. Plaintiff asked that the Marine Housing Authority (MHA) exclude her IHSS compensation from "income" under the federal regulations. MHA did not respond to the request and then terminated Plaintiff's housing voucher. Plaintiff filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking an order requiring MHA to reinstitute her Section 8 voucher. The trial court sustained MHA's demurrer, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, concluding that a parent's IHSS compensation to provide care to keep a developmentally disabled child at home is excluded from income under 24 Code of Federal Regulations part 5.609(c)(16). View "Reilly v. Marin Housing Authority" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits
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The Supreme Court held that the determination of the California Department of Social Services (the Department) that a household member's income that is used to pay child support for a child living in another household counts as income "reasonably anticipated" to be "received" by the paying household within the meaning of Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code 11265.2 for the purposes of determining eligibility for state welfare benefits was reasonable and therefore valid.Plaintiff applied for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) aid to support herself and her family. The Director of the Department denied the claim, concluding that child support payments garnished from Plaintiff's husband's earned income and unemployment insurance benefits was correctly included as nonexempt available income in determining eligibility for CalWORKs benefits. The superior court declared the department's policy of counting court-ordered child support payments as available income of CalWORKs applicants invalid. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department’s determination that funds garnished to pay child support for the benefit of a child living in another household are not exempt from the paying household’s income for purposes of determining its eligibility for or amount of CalWORKs aid was a reasonable exercise of its lawmaking authority and was therefore valid. View "Christensen v. Lightbourne" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits
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In this case, the court construed Labor Code section 4659(c), which provided for the annual indexing of two categories of workers' compensation benefits, total permanent disability and life pension payments, to yearly increases in the state's average weekly wage (SAWW), so that lifetime disability payments made to the most seriously injured workers would keep pace with inflation. The indexing procedure was sometimes referred to as an "escalator," or one providing for "cost of living adjustments" (COLA's). At issue was whether the operative language of section 4659(c) required the annual COLA's for total permanent disability and life pension payments to be calculated (1) prospectively from the January 1 following the year in which the worker became "entitled to receive a life pension or total disability indemnity," (when the payments actually commenced); (2) retroactively to January 1 following the year in which the worker sustained the industrial injury; or (3) retroactively to January 2004, in every case involving a qualifying industrial injury, regardless of the date of injury or the date the first benefit payment became due. Applying fundamental rules of statutory construction, the court held that the Legislature intended that COLA's be calculated and applied prospectively commencing on the January 1 following the date on which the injured worker first became entitled to receive, and actually began receiving, such benefits payments, i.e., the permanent and stationary date in the case of total permanent disability benefits, and the date on which partial permanent disability benefits became exhausted in the case of life pension payments. View "Baker v. Workers' Comp. App. Bd." on Justia Law