Anderson v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 143, 11 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 143 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

an equal amount of AFDC assistance on each of the three children—without regard to any other relevant circumstances, such as whether one of them receives outside income. Not only would such assumption fail to reflect reality, see, e. g., Gilliard, 483 U. S., at 600, n. 14, it would also be inconsistent with the duty imposed on caretakers by federal law to spend AFDC payments "in the best interests of the child[ren]" for whom they care, 42 U. S. C. 605, a duty specifically implemented by California law, see, e. g., Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code Ann. 11005.5, 11480 (West 1991). Thus, California may rationally assume that a caretaker will observe her duties to all the members of the AU and will take into account the receipt of any outside income by one child when expending funds on behalf of the AU.

Second, respondents' argument misperceives the operation of the California Rule. In the foregoing example, California would simply add the monthly income of all members of the AU—$75 (granddaughter) plus $0 (first grandniece) plus $0 (second grandniece) for a total of $75—and reduce the monthly assistance payment to the Edwards family AU accordingly. It should be clear from this example that the monthly payment to the AU is reduced not because the California Rule "assumes" that any income is available to the grandnieces, but because it places the two grandnieces into the same AU as the granddaughter (whose income is actually available to herself). What respondents are really attacking is the rule that the income of all members of the AU is combined in order to determine the amount of the assistance payment to the AU. This attack ignores the very definition of an AU: the group of individuals whose income and resources are considered "as a unit" for purposes of determining the amount of the assistance payment. 45 CFR 206.10(b)(5) (1993). Accord, Brief for Respondents 4 ("All of the income and resources of everyone in the assistance unit are taken into consideration in establishing the benefit payment").

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