CHAPTER 83 - DELAWARE COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND PROVIDING AID FOR NEEDY BLIND CONSISTENT WITH FEDERAL LAW

AN ACT TO SUPPLEMENT CHAPTER 75, OF THE REVISED CODE OF DELAWARE, RELATING TO THE PUBLIC WELFARE BY PROVIDING AID TO THE NEEDY BLIND CONSISTENT WITH TITLE X OF THE FEDERAL SOCIAL SECURITY ACT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. Definitions:--As used in this Act:

"The Commission" means the Delaware Commission for the Blind, created by Chapter 75, Revised Code of Delaware.

"Applicant" means a person who has applied for assistance under this Act.

"Recipient" means a person who has received assistance under the terms of this Act.

"Ophthalmologist" means a physician licensed to practice medicine in this State and who is actively engaged in the treatment of diseases of the human eye.

"Assistance" means money payments to blind persons in need.

"Supplementary Services" means services other than money payments to blind persons in need.

Section 2. Definition of Blindness:--A person shall be considered "blind" for the purposes of this Act whose vision, with correcting glasses, is so defective as to prevent the performance of activities for which eyesight is essential.

Section 3. Eligibility for Assistance to the Needy Blind:-- Assistance shall be granted under this Act to any blind person who:

(a) Is 21 years of age or older;

(b) Has not sufficient income or other resources to provide a reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health;

(c) Is not an inmate of any public institution at the time of receiving assistance. An inmate of such an institution may, however, make application for such assistance but the assistance, if granted, shall not begin until after he ceases to be an inmate;

(d) Has not made an assignment or transfer of property for the purpose of rendering himself eligible for assistance under this Act at any time within two years, immediately prior to the filing of application for assistance pursuant to the provisions of this Act;

(e) Is not receiving for any period with respect to which he is making application for assistance under the provisions of this Act, old age assistance in accordance with the provisions of Volume 37, Laws of Delaware, Chapter 85, as amended;

(f) Is not publicly soliciting alms in any part of this State. The term "publicly soliciting" shall be construed to mean the wearing, carrying, or exhibiting of signs, denoting blindness or the carrying of receptacles for the reception of alms, or the doing of the same by proxy or by begging from house to house;

(g) Has been a resident of this State at the time he lost his sight, or has been a resident of this State for five years or more during the nine years immediately preceding the date of application, and during the last year preceding such application has resided continuously in this State.

Section 4. Amount of Assistance:--The amount of assistance which any person shall receive shall be determined by the Commission with due regard to the resources and necessary expenditures of the individual and the conditions existing in each case and in accordance with the rules and regulations made by the Commission, and shall be sufficient, when added to all other income and support of the recipient, to provide such person with a reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health. In no case however shall any person receive more than forty dollars ($40.00) per month.

Section 5. Duties of the Commission:--The Commission shall:

(a) Administer assistance to the needy blind under this Act;

(b) Make such rules and regulations and take such action as may be necessary or desirable for carrying out the provisions of this Act;

(c) Designate the procedure to be followed in securing a competent medical examination for the purpose of determining blindness in the individual applicant for assistance;

(d) Establish standards for personnel employed by 'the Commission in the administration of this Act and make necessary rules and regulations to maintain such standards;

(e) Prescribe the form of and print such forms as it may deem necessary and advisable;

() Cooperate with the Federal Government in matters of mutual concern pertaining to assistance to the needy blind, including the adoption of such methods of administration as are found by the Federal Government to be necessary for the efficient operation of the plan for such assistance;

(a) Publish an annual report and such interim reports as may be necessary; said reports to be submitted to the Governor, and Legislature of the State of Delaware, and the United States. Social Security Board;

(h) Designate a suitable number of ophthalmologists, duly licensed to practice medicine in Delaware and actively engaged in the treatment of diseases of the human eye, to examine applicants and recipients of assistance to the blind;

(i) Promulgate rules and regulations stating, in terms of ophthalmic measurements, the amount of visual acuity which an applicant may have and still be eligible, for assistance under this Act;

(j) Initiate or cooperate with other agencies in developing measures for the prevention of blindness, the restoration of eyesight, and the vocational adjustment of blind persons.

Section 6. Application for Assistance:--Application for assistance under this Act shall be made to the Commission. The application shall be in writing or reduced to writing in the manner and upon the form prescribed by the Commission. Such application shall contain a statement of the amount of property, both personal and real, in which the applicant has an interest and of all income which he may have at the time of the filing of the application, and such other information as may be required by the Commission.

Section 7. Investigation of Applications: Whenever the Commission receives an application for assistance under this Act, an investigation and record shall promptly be made of the circumstances of the applicant in order to ascertain the facts supporting the application and in order to obtain such other information as may be required by the rules of the Commission.

Section 8. Examination by Ophthalmologist:--No application shall be approved until the applicant has been examined by an ophthalmologist designated or approved by the Commission to make such examinations. The examining ophthalmologist shall certify in writing upon forms provided by the Commission the findings of the examination.

Section 9. Granting of Assistance:--Upon the completion of such investigation the Commission shall decide whether the applicant is eligible for assistance under the provisions of this Act, and determine in accordance with its rules and regulations the amount of such assistance and the date on which such assistance shall begin. The Commission shall notify the applicant of its decision. Such assistance shall be paid monthly to the applicant upon order of the Commission from funds allocated to the Commission for this purpose.

Section 10. Assistance Not Assignable:--Assistance granted under this Act shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the money paid or payable under this Act shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.

Section 11. Right of Appeal:--Any blind applicant or recipient of assistance who is dissatisfied with the action of the Commission regarding his claim for assistance under this Act, may appeal to the Chairman of the Board of the Commission, and upon such appeal, shall be granted an opportunity for a fair hearing before the Commission. Any such Petitioner shall be given written notice of the time and place of such hearing, as may be prescribed by the Rules and Regulations of the Commission, and may appear in person or by counsel.

Section 12. Periodic Reconsideration and Changes in Amount of Assistance:--All assistance grants made under this Act shall be reconsidered by the Commission as frequently as may be required by its rules. After such further investigation, the amount of assistance may be changed or assistance may be entirely withdrawn if the Commission finds that the recipient's circumstances have altered sufficiently to warrant such action.

Section 13. Re-examination as to Eyesight:--A recipient shall submit to a re-examination as to his eyesight when required to do so by the Commission, and shall also furnish any information required by its rules and regulations.

Section 14. Expenses for Treatment:--Supplementary services may be provided by the Commission to any applicant or recipient who is in need of treatment either to prevent blindness or to restore his eyesight whether or not he is blind as defined in Section 2 of this Act if lie is otherwise qualified for assistance under this Act. The supplementary services may include necessary traveling and other expenses to receive treatment from a hospital or clinic designated by the Commission.

Section 15. Recipient Not Deemed a Pauper:--No blind person shall be deemed a pauper by reason of receiving relief under this Act.

Section 16. Recovery from a Recipient:--If at any time during the period of assistance the recipient thereof becomes possessed of any property or income in excess of the amount stated in the application provided for in Section 6 of this Act, it shall be the duty of the recipient immediately to notify the Commission of the receipt or possession of such property or income and the Commission may, after investigation, either cancel the assistance or alter the amount thereof in accordance with the circumstances. Any assistance paid after the recipient has come into possession of such property or income and in excess of his need shall be recoverable by the Commission as a debt due it. Such action for the recovery of assistance shall not be abated by the death of the recipient.

Section 17. State Financial Participation:--For the purpose of providing assistance under this Act, there is hereby appropriated the sum of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000,00), for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1946, and there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year thereafter, a sum sufficient to carry out the purposes of this Act.

Section 18. Federal Financial Participation:--The State Treasurer is authorized and directed to receive all money paid to the State by the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States on account of assistance provided under the provisions of this Act, and to make payments from such moneys and moneys appropriated under this Act, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and the provisions of the United States Social Security Act.

Section 19. Fraudulent Acts:--Whoever knowingly obtains, or attempts to obtain, or aids, or abets any person to obtain by means of a willfully false statement or representation or by impersonation, or other fraudulent device, assistance to which he is not entitled, assistance greater than that to which he is justly entitled; or whoever aids or abets in buying or in any way disposing of the property, either personal or real, of a recipient of assistance without the consent of the Commission, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than $500.00 or be imprisoned for not more than six months, or be both so fined and imprisoned in the discretion of the Court. In assessing the penalty the Court shall take into consideration, among other factors, the amount of money fraudulently received.

Section 20. Limitations of Act:--All assistance granted under this Act shall be deemed to be granted and to be held subject to the provisions of any amending or repealing Act that may hereafter be passed, and no recipient shall have any claim for compensation, or otherwise, by reason of his assistance being affected in any way by any amending or repealing Act.

Section 21. Short Title:--This Act may be cited as the "Aid to the Blind Act".

Section 22. Effective Date:--This Act shall take effect immediately upon its passage and approval.

Section 23. Repeal of Existing Laws:--All Acts or parts of Acts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act be and the same are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistencies only.

Section 24. Severability Clause:--If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provision or application of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.

Approved April 23, 1945.