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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
Carl Green vs. SCDHHS

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

PARTIES:
Appellant:
Carl Green

Respondent:
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
05-ALJ-08-0100-AP

APPEARANCES:
n/a
 

ORDERS:

ORDER OF REMAND

In the above-captioned matter, Appellant Carl Green seeks a hearing on the decision of Respondent South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS or Department) to deny his application for Medicaid benefits under the Aged, Blind, and Disabled Program. For the reasons set forth below, I find that this matter should be remanded to the Department for further proceedings.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On December 7, 2004, Appellant requested a “fair hearing” before the Department to challenge the Department’s initial denial of his application for Medicaid benefits. By a notice mailed to Appellant by certified mail on January 7, 2005, the Department scheduled a hearing on Appellant’s benefits application for March 3, 2005; Appellant received and signed for the notice on January 12, 2005. However, Appellant failed to appear at the March 3, 2005 hearing, and, by an order dated March 10, 2005, the presiding DHHS hearing officer dismissed Appellant’s appeal as abandoned because of his failure to appear at the hearing. By a letter filed on March 19, 2005, Appellant, through his sister, Hilda Green, appealed the Department’s dismissal of his case to this Court. In the letter, Ms. Green does not contend that Appellant failed to receive notice of the DHHS hearing or claim that he had permission to not appear at the hearing, but rather she explains that Appellant likely forgot about the hearing because, since his brain surgery in May 2004, Appellant “has had difficulty remembering dates and events,” “has difficulty functioning daily around the house,” and must be watched due to his memory lapses. Ms. Green further states that Appellant’s family was not aware of the scheduled DHHS hearing. Based upon these circumstances, Ms. Green, on behalf of Appellant, asks this Court to “reschedule another hearing for [Appellant].”

ORDER

As Appellant’s request in this matter is more of the nature of a motion to be relieved from the order dismissing his appeal because of his mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect, rather than a direct appeal of the merits of that order, I find that this matter should be remanded to the Department for it to consider whether, because of Appellant’s particular medical condition, he has presented sufficient grounds to be relieved from the order of dismissal and to have his case reopened for a new hearing before the Department. See S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(6) (2005) (authorizing a court reviewing an agency decision to “remand the case for further proceedings” where appropriate); Bennett v. City of Clemson, 293 S.C. 64, 66-67, 358 S.E.2d 707, 708-09 (1987) (holding that, unless specifically curtailed by statute or regulation, an administrative agency has the inherent power to reconsider or rehear its decisions “where there is justification and good cause”). Therefore,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the above-captioned matter is REMANDED to Respondent South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for it to consider whether to relieve Appellant from the order dismissing his appeal because of his excusable neglect in failing to attend the scheduled hearing. If the Department should find such excusable neglect, it should schedule a new “fair hearing” on Appellant’s application for Medicaid benefits before a DHHS hearing officer.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this remand EXTINGUISHES the instant case, and that any appeal of a decision made by the Department upon remand of this matter must be filed as a new appeal with this Court.

AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

______________________________

JOHN D. GEATHERS

Administrative Law Judge

March 23, 2005

Columbia, South Carolina


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