South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
Janet Deloach vs. SCDHHS

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

PARTIES:
Appellant:
Janet Deloach

Respondents:
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
07-ALJ-08-0642-AP

APPEARANCES:
n/a
 

ORDERS:

ORDER OF DISMISSAL

In the above-captioned matter, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (Department or HHS) issued a final agency determination on November 28, 2007, with regard to Appellant’s Medicaid claim. The Department determined that Appellant was not eligible for Medicaid benefits because “the Social Security Administration (SSA) had made a disability decision within twelve (12) months of the Medicaid application date.” Because SSA denied her disability, HHS has no authority to independently determine disability pursuant to 42 C.F.R. § 435.541 (a)(2) & (b)(1)(i)(ii). Rather, SSA’s denial is also binding on HHS. Appellant has not filed an appellate brief with this court to amend, supplement, or modify her grounds for appeal.

Appellant’s Notice of Appeal (a one-page letter filed December 31, 2007) neither contains a cognizable ground for appeal to this court nor does it set forth a specific reason for the reversal or modification of the Department’s final determination that falls within the grounds for appeal enumerated in Section 1-23-380(5) of the Administrative Procedures Act. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-360(5) (Supp. 2007). Rather, Appellant refers to her health issues and difficult financial situation as the basis for appealing the Department’s decision. While this court is sympathetic to Appellant’s situation, Appellant has failed to state a particular error of law or fact in her Notice of Appeal for this court to review, as required by ALC Rule 33(B). ALC Rule 33 provides that:

The notice [of appeal] . . . shall contain the following information: . . . a general statement of the grounds for appeal as provided in S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(6). The grounds for appeal may be amended, supplemented or modified in the statement of issues in the brief required by Rule 37(B)(1).

ALC Rule 33 (emphasis added). Therefore, this appeal must be dismissed, as this court is limited in granting or denying relief to the Appellant in the instant matter as she has not properly stated any grounds for appeal of the Department’s decision regarding her Medicaid claim.

This court is mindful of the difficulties facing pro se litigants and its duty to assist them to ensure fairness. See ALC Rule 38 and accompanying note. This court is also aware that appellate courts will occasionally hear an appeal despite poorly-stated grounds for appeal if the court is able to readily determine the issue to be reviewed and the appeal appears to have merit. See, e.g., Sandel v. Cousins, 266 S.C.19, 221 S.E.2d 111 (1975). Nonetheless, where, as here, the appellant does not set forth any articulable grounds for appeal, and no grounds, meritorious or otherwise, readily appear to the reviewing court, an appellate court has little choice but to dismiss the appeal. See, e.g., Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm’n of South Carolina, 359 S.C. 105, 113, 597 S.E.2d 145, 149 (2004) (“[A] petition . . . pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) must direct the Court’s attention to the abuse allegedly committed below, including a distinct and specific statement of the rulings of which appellant complains.” (quoting Pringle v. Builders Transp., 298 S.C. 494, 495, 381 S.E.2d 731, 732 (1989))); Smith v. South Carolina Dep’t of Social Services, 284 S.C. 469, 471, 327 S.E.2d 348, 349 (1985) (“[A] petition must include all that is necessary to enable the appellant court to decide whether the ruling complained of was erroneous.” (citing 4 Am.Jr.2d, Appeal and Error, § 430 (1962))); Solley v. Weaver, 247 S.C. 129, 131, 146 S.E.2d 164, 165 (1966) (“We have held in many cases that every ground of appeal ought to be so distinctly stated that the Court may at once see the point which it is called upon to decide without having to ‘grope in the dark’ to ascertain the precise point at issue.”).

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the above-captioned appeal is DISMISSED pursuant to ALC Rule 38 for Appellant’s failure to state a cognizable ground for appeal.

AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

______________________________

April 10, 2008 JOHN D. GEATHERS

Columbia, South Carolina Administrative Law Judge

1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 224

Columbia, South Carolina 29201-3731


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