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STEINBERG v. USDA

November 26, 1984

JILL S. STEINBERG, Plaintiff, against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE and THE FOOD & NUTRITION SERVICE (Family Nutrition Programs), Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALTIMARI

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ALTIMARI, D.J.:

 This is an action brought by plaintiff Jill S. Steinberg, pro se, acting through her father, Maurice Steinberg, which asks this court to determine the validity of the United States Department of Agriculture's decision to discontinue Ms. Steinberg's monthly allotment of food stamps, as well as to order that plaintiff receive her back benefits, retroactive to September, 1982. In essence, Ms. Steinberg challenges the constitutionality of the 1981 amendment of the definition of "household" under the Food Stamp Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2012(i), and the regulations promulgated thereunder. 7 C.F.R. § 273.1(a)(3)(i) (1984). Defendants have moved for summary judgment, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, for dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Since various documents outside of the pleadings have been submitted in connection with this motion, the court must treat it as one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b).

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Jill Steinberg was born on February 16, 1950 and has been disabled since birth. Ms. Steinberg receive public assistance from the Medicaid program of the Nassau County Department of Social Services, as well as Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Complaint, 1) She resides with her parents at their home in Carle Place. Plaintiff's authorization for food stamp benefits was discontinued by the Nassau County Department of Social Services as of the end of September, 1982. Plaintiff appealed this decision to the State of New York Department of Social Services and, thereafter, on November 5, 1982, a Fair Hearing was held on plaintiff's claim. The Fair Hearing decision, dated November 17, 1982, upheld the discontinuance of benefits, based upon the amended definition of household in the Food Stamp Act. Apparently, plaintiff thereafter filed a petition pursuant to Article 78 of New York's Civil Practice Laws and Rules challenging this determination. However, the outcome of this proceeding remains a mystery to the court, since neither party supplied the court with information in that regard. In any event, it is clear, from plaintiff's complaint and from oral argument held in open court, that the plaintiff basically seeks a determination as to the validity of the amendment of the Food Stamp Act. Since there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute, this issue is properly before the court on this motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

 THE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS

 Section 2012(i) provides, in pertinent part: "Household" means (1) an individual who lives alone or who, while living with others, customarily purchases food and prepares meals for home consumption separate and apart from the others, or (2) a group of individuals who live together and customarily purchase food and prepare meals together for home consumption even if they do not do so, unless one of the parents, or siblings, is an elderly or disabled member.

 7 U.S.C. § 2012(i).

 The regulations issued pursuant to this statute provide, in part:

 (3) In no event shall nonhousehold member status . . . or separate household status be granted to:

 (i) Parents living with their natural, adopted, or step children or such children living with such parents, unless at least one parent is elderly or disabled as defined in § 271.2;

 (ii) Children under 18 years of age under the parental control of an adult member of the household; or

 (iii) A spouse of a member of the household (as defined in § 271.2).

 (iv) Siblings (natural, adopted, half or step brothers and sisters), unless at least one sibling is elderly or ...


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