Anderson v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 143, 10 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court


Respondents also argue that the California Rule violates the "availability" principle, which is implemented, in one form or another, by all three federal regulations. Section 233.90(a)(1) provides that "the inclusion in the family, or the presence in the home, of a 'substitute parent' or 'man-in-the-house' or any individual other than [the child's parent] is not an acceptable basis for . . . assuming the availability of income" to a needy child. Likewise, 233.20(a)(2)(viii) provides that States may "not assume any contribution from [a nonlegally responsible] individual for the support of the assistance unit." Finally, 233.20(a)(3)(ii)(D) provides generally that States shall, "in determining need and the amount of the assistance payment," count only "[i]ncome . . . and resources available for current use"; the regulation adds that "income and resources are considered available both when actually available and when [legally available]."

According to respondents, the California Rule assumes that income from relatives is contributed to, or otherwise available to, a needy child without a determination that it is actually available. If Mrs. Edwards' granddaughter were to begin receiving $75 per month in outside income, for example, the AU of which she is a part would receive $75 less in monthly AFDC benefits, and the two grandnieces would each accordingly receive $25 less in per capita monthly benefits. Thus, the California Rule assertedly "assumes," in violation of all three federal regulations, that the granddaughter will contribute $25 per month of her outside income to each grandniece and also that such income will therefore be available to each grandniece—without a case-specific determination that such contribution will in fact occur.

Respondents' argument fails for at least two reasons. First, its premise is questionable. Although in this example, the grandnieces each will nominally receive $25 less in per capita monthly benefits, they will actually receive less in benefits only if one assumes that Mrs. Edwards will expend

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