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McGee v. State, Department of Public Health & Human Services

Supreme Court of Montana

July 5, 2017

DAWN McGEE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MONTANA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: May 17, 2017

         APPEAL FROM District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis And Clark, Cause No. BDV-2015-201 Honorable DeeAnn Cooney, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Roberta Cross Guns, Attorney at Law, Ulm, Montana.

          For Appellee: Barbara Banchero, Special Assistant Attorney General, State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana.

          OPINION

          MIKE McGRATH JUSTICE

         ¶1 This appeal comes from a termination of SNAP benefits based on the household's refusal to provide income information. We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

Did the District Court err when it upheld the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services' interpretation of the relevant federal statute?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Dawn McGee (McGee) and Helge Naber (Naber) are an unmarried couple living together with their biological child, and McGee's other four children. McGee was receiving public assistance in the form of SNAP[1] benefits. On March 13, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (Department) learned that Naber was living with McGee and sent McGee a notice requesting income information for Naber. McGee responded that she did not have access to the information the Department requested. The Department notified McGee that without the income information it could not verify her eligibility and her benefits would be terminated. On April 30, 2014, the Department terminated McGee's benefits. McGee requested a hearing. At the hearing, the Administrative Hearing Examiner upheld the Department's termination. McGee appealed. The Board of Public Assistance upheld the Department's determination and McGee appealed to the District Court. The District Court upheld the Department's determination. McGee appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶4 This Court reviews an agency and District Court's conclusions of law to determine if they are correct. Bitterroot River Protective Ass'n v. Bitterroot Conservation Dist., 2008 MT 377, ¶ 18, 346 Mont. 507, 198 P.3d 219.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5 Did the District Court err when it upheld the Montana Department of Public Healthand Human Services' ...


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