The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIRICA
This action was brought by Dr. Alfred R. Lapin as father and next friend of Brian R. Lapin to set aside an order of the Social Security Administration denying Brian supplemental social security income benefits as provided for in Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C., § 1381 et seq. (1970). Brian is a 27 year old male who is disabled and who receives institutional care on account of severe mental retardation. The essence of the complaint is that the order of the Social Security Administration lacks substantial evidence to support the finding that Brian, because of financial support he receives from his father, is not eligible to receive supplemental social security income benefits. To qualify as eligible under the Act, the applicant for benefits must show that his income, both earned and unearned, falls below the statutory maximum. The case is presently here on cross motions for summary judgment.
The essential facts are not in dispute. Brian is a 27 year old male who suffers from mental retardation due to mongoloidism. Until 1974 with one insignificant exception, Brian resided in a home setting either with his parents or with his grandmother, aunt and uncle. While living with his relatives, Brian attended an institutional day school and spent evenings, weekends and holidays at home. This lasted until 1973 when his grandmother passed away and he was returned to his parents.
Since July 20, 1974, Brian has resided full time at the Van Hook-Walsh School, Inc., an institution located in Middletown, Delaware, specializing in the care of mentally disabled individuals. The cost of institutionalization at the Van Hook-Walsh School is approximately $450.00 per month and is paid for by Dr. Lapin. This amount covers Brian's room, board and round-the-clock supervision. It does not, however, cover the cost of clothing and other necessities. Nor does it cover the cost of medical care and medications necessary to treat foot and eye ailments from which Brian suffers. The cost of these items is billed to Dr. Lapin separate and apart from the $450.00 monthly charge.
On June 27, 1974, Dr. Lapin filed an application on behalf of Brian with the Social Security Administration for supplemental social security income benefits. The matter was heard by a Hearing Examiner, testimony and exhibits were taken into evidence and a decision was rendered on May 23, 1975 denying the application. Underlying this decision were findings that the monthly $450.00 payments made by Dr. Lapin to the Van Hook-Walsh School constituted income to Brian and that, as such, Brian's yearly income exceeded the maximum level set by statute for supplemental benefits.
In order to qualify for supplemental income benefits because of disability, an applicant must fall within the definition of "eligible individual" as provided in Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. (Supp. V 1975). Section 1382(a)(1) of the Act defines "eligible individual" as
(1) Each . . . disabled individual who does not have an eligible spouse and --
(A) whose income, other than income excluded pursuant to section 1382a(b) of this title, is at a rate of not more than $1,752 . . . for the calendar year 1974 or any calendar year thereafter. . . .
Section 1382a in turn defines "income" as both earned and unearned income.
Included within this definition are payments for "support and maintenance" covering
room and board, and . . . other incidentals necessary to an individual's normal sustenance. ...