CARRIE HENDRICK & a.
NEW HAMPSHIRE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Argued: January 13, 2016
Hampshire Legal Assistance, of Concord and Portsmouth (Ruth
D. Heintz and Kay E. Drought on the brief, and Ms. Heintz
orally), for the plaintiffs.
A. Foster, attorney general (MaryBeth L. Misluk, attorney,
and Lynmarie Cusack, assistant attorney general, on the
brief, and Ms. Misluk orally), for the defendant.
States Department of Justice, of Washington, D.C. (Jeffrey E.
Sandberg, attorney, on the brief), and United States
Attorney's Office, of Concord (T. David Plourde, chief,
civil division, on the brief), as amicus curiae.
Disability Rights Center - NH, of Concord (C. Adrienne
Mallinson on the brief), for the Disability Rights Center -
NH, the New Hampshire Association of Special Education
Administrators, and the National Disability Rights Network,
as amici curiae.
plaintiffs, Carrie Hendrick and Jamie Birmingham, appeal an
order of the Superior Court (Smukler, J.) granting
summary judgment to the defendant, the New Hampshire
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). We reverse
issue before us is the constitutionality of New Hampshire
Administrative Rules, He-W 654.04(c). The rule requires DHHS
to include a child's federal Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) in the calculation of a family's eligibility for
benefits under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families program (TANF), as administered by the State's
Financial Assistance to Needy Families program (FANF). We
hold that the rule violates the Supremacy Clause of the
United States Constitution. See U.S. CONST. art. VI,
cl. 2. For context, we provide a brief overview of the
applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.
program, codified as Title XVI of the Social Security Act, is
a needs-based federal assistance program that sets a
"guaranteed minimum income level" for individuals
"who have attained age 65" or who "are blind
or disabled." Sullivan v. Zebley, 493 U.S. 521,
524 (1990) (quotations omitted); see 42 U.S.C.
§ 1381 (2012). SSI payments are funded by the federal
government and administered by the Social Security
Administration (SSA). See 42 U.S.C. § 1383
(2012 & Supp. II 2014).
child to be eligible for SSI payments, the child must be
blind or disabled and have limited income and resources.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a)(1) (2012). A child is
"disabled" if he or she has a "physical or
mental impairment" that results in "marked and
severe functional limitations, " and which can be
expected either to result in death or to last continuously
for at least one year. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i)
(2012). The requirement that the child have limited income
and resources is met when the child has less than a certain
amount in assets, 20 C.F.R. § 416.1205(a), (c) (2015),
and "countable income" below the federal financial
benefit rate, 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.1110-416.1182
beneficiaries who are unable to manage their own payments
"due to a mental or physical condition or due to their
youth, " the beneficiary's payments are directed to
a third-party "representative payee." 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.601(b) (2015); see 42 U.S.C. §
1383(a)(2)(A)(ii)(I) (2012). The statute directs the
representative payee to use SSI funds "for the use and
benefit" of the child. 42 U.S.C. §
1383(a)(2)(A)(ii)(I). A representative payee who
"converts such payment, or any part thereof, to a use
other than for the use and benefit of" the child commits
"misuse of benefits." 42 U.S.C. §
1383(a)(2)(A)(iv) (2012). A representative payee who commits
"misuse of benefits" is subject to a range of civil
and criminal penalties. See, e.g., 42
U.S.C. § 1383a(a)(4) (2012) (fine and/or imprisonment of
up to 5 years); id. § 1383(a)(2)(H)(i) (2012)
(restitution); id. § 1383a(b) (2012) (same).
statute authorizes the SSA to implement regulations in
administering the SSI program, 42 U.S.C. § 405(a)
(2012), including prescribing "the meaning of the term
'use and benefit' for purposes" of preventing
misuse of benefits, id. § 1383(a)(2)(A)(iv)
(2012). The SSA has promulgated "[d]etailed regulations
govern[ing] a representative payee's use of [SSI]
benefits." Washington State Dept. of Social and
Health Servs. v. Guardianship Estate of Keffeler, 537
U.S. 371, 376 (2003). A representative payee who receives SSI
funds on behalf of a disabled child must "[u]se the
benefits received on [the child's] behalf only for [the
child's] use and benefit in a manner and for the purposes
[the representative payee] determines . . . to be in [the
child's] best interests." 20 C.F.R. §
416.635(a) (2015). SSI funds that "are used for the
[child's] current maintenance" are considered to
"have been used for the use and benefit of the
[child]." 20 C.F.R. § 416.640(a) (2015).
"Current maintenance includes costs incurred in
obtaining food, shelter, clothing, medical care and personal
comfort items." Id. In addition, the
representative payee must "[e]nsure that [the child is]
receiving treatment to the extent considered medically
necessary and available for the condition that was the basis
for providing benefits if [the child is] under age 18."
20 C.F.R. § 416.635(g) (2015) (citation omitted). Any
funds not spent on the child's current maintenance must