Anderson v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 143, 2 (1995)

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(b) Nor does the California Rule violate 45 CFR 233.20(a)(2)(viii), 233.20(a)(3)(ii)(D), and 233.90(a)(1), which prohibit States from assuming that a cohabitant's income is available to a needy child absent a case-specific determination that it is actually or legally available. First, the California Rule does not necessarily reduce the benefits of all needy children when one of them receives outside income, for California may rationally assume that the caretaker will observe her duties to all of the AU's members and will take into account the receipt of any such income by one child when expending funds on behalf of the AU. Second, the California Rule simply authorizes the combination of incomes of all AU members in order to determine the amount of the AU's assistance payment. This accords with the very definition of an AU as the group of individuals whose income and resources are considered "as a unit" in determining the amount of benefits, 45 CFR 206.10(b)(5), and is authorized by the AFDC statute itself, 42 U. S. C. 602(a)(7)(A), which provides that a state agency "shall, in determining need, take into consideration any . . . income and resources of any child or relative claiming [AFDC assistance]." In light of the great latitude that States have in administering their AFDC programs, see, e. g., Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U. S. 471, 478, that statute is reasonably construed to allow States, in determining a child's need (and therefore the amount of her assistance), to consider the income and resources of all cohabiting children and relatives also claiming assistance. The availability regulations are addressed to an entirely different problem: attempts by States to count income and resources controlled by persons outside the AU for the purpose of determining the amount of the AU's assistance. See 42 Fed. Reg. 6583-6584, and, e. g., King v. Smith, 392 U. S. 309. The California Rule has no such effect. Pp. 152-155. (c) Respondents' alternative arguments—(1) that the federal family filing unit rule occupies the field and thereby pre-empts California from adopting its Rule, and (2) that the California Rule violates 45 CFR 233.10(a)(1) and 233.20(a)(1)(i), which require equitable treatment among AFDC recipients—lack merit. Pp. 156-158. 12 F. 3d 154, reversed and remanded.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Dennis Paul Eckhart, Supervising Deputy Attorney General of California, argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General, Charlton G. Holland III, Assistant Attorney General, and G. Mateo Muñoz, Deputy Attorney General.

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