Anderson v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 143, 15 (1995)

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

Opinion of the Court

[42 U. S. C.] 1983," Wilder v. Virginia Hospital Assn., 496 U. S. 498, 509 (1990), we find that the California Rule affirmatively fosters equitable treatment among AFDC recipients.

For example, prior to September 1991 a caretaker relative responsible for three brothers having no outside income would have received AFDC benefits of $694 per month on their behalf. Yet before the California Rule was applied to her household, Mrs. Edwards received monthly benefits of $901 for the three girls for whom she cared. See supra, at 148. The $207 difference is due solely to the fact that in one household all of the children are siblings, while in the other they are not. The potential inequities in the absence of the California Rule are even greater. Six needy siblings living in the same household in California could have received up to $1,057 per month in benefits before September 1991. But prior to the California Rule's adoption, six needy nonsiblings who lived in the same household could have received as much as $2,046, or almost double. See n. 1, supra. The California Rule sensibly and equitably eliminates these disparities by providing that equally sized and equally needy households will receive equal AFDC assistance. Thus, the rule does not violate the equitable treatment regulations.7

7 In its 1994 Transmittal, see supra, at 149, HHS examined all of the federal AFDC rules at issue in this case—the three availability regulations, the statutory family filing unit rule, and the equitable treatment regulations. The agency concluded: "Apart from complying with [the family filing unit rule and a related rule], States are authorized to set the State-wide policy, to be applied in all cases, whether and under what conditions two or more assistance units in the same household are to be consolidated or retained as separate units." App. to Pet. for Cert. 35. Because we have independently reached the same conclusion, we have no occasion to decide whether we must defer to the agency's position. Cf. Martin v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 499 U. S. 144, 150 (1991) ("It is well established 'that an agency's construction of its own regulations is entitled to substantial deference' " (quoting Lyng v. Payne, 476 U. S. 926, 939 (1986))).

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