In a decision released February 1, 2018, the Connecticut Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiffs, represented by one of our principals Carmine Perri, who had challenged the Commissioner of Social Services over a determination from the Department of Social Services (DSS) regarding whether or not a preexisting spousal support order rendered by the Probate Court was binding on DSS.
The plaintiffs in the case were a father and his daughter; the daughter was acting in her capacity as conservator for her father and executrix of her father’s wife’s estate. Shortly after her father’s wife was discharged from a medical facility to a skilled nursing facility, the conservator filed an application in the Probate Court seeking an order of spousal support for her father. The Probate Court approved the application thereby allowing the conservator to transfer the wife’s assets to the husband and ordered the conservator to pay the wife’s income to her father as monthly spousal support.
Less than a month after the Probate Court issued its decree, a Title XIX (Medicaid) application was filed with DSS on the wife’s behalf. While DSS granted the application, it did not factor the previously existing Probate Court order when calculating how much money could be allocated to the support of the husband; in short, DSS ignored the Probate Court order when arriving at its calculation of spousal support.
To challenge the agency’s determination, the daughter sought an administrative Fair Hearing. The Fair Hearing Officer upheld DSS’ refusal to acknowledge the Probate Court order.
After an administrative appeal in the superior court that resulted in a ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor, the Commissioner appealed to the Appellate Court. While the matter was pending in the Appellate Court, the Supreme Court transferred the case to itself.
In the end, the Supreme Court held that DSS was bound by the Probate Court’s spousal support order that was rendered pursuant to the plain and unambiguous language of the law.
To learn more about Carmine Perri and other court successes, click here.