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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Inez Byrum vs. SCDHHS

South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Inez Byrum

South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services




This matter is before me pursuant to the motion of the Respondent, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, filed July 31, 1998, to dismiss this case pursuant to ALJD Rule 38, on the ground that the Appellant's notice of appeal fails to meet the level of specificity required by ALJD Rule 33 and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"). Furthermore, the Respondent contends that the defects in the notice cannot be remedied because the time for filing an appeal has expired. No response to the motion has been received from the Appellant or her representative. For the following reasons, I conclude that the motion must be granted and this matter must be dismissed.


This matter is an appeal of the Respondent's denial of Appellant's application for retroactive Medicaid benefits. Appellant, through her conservator, first filed an application for Medicaid benefits in October of 1997. The Fairfield County Department of Social Services ("DSS"), acting on behalf of the Respondent, denied the application for retroactive benefits on the grounds that Appellant's resources exceeded the eligibility limits from July through November 1997. Appellant's eligibility was approved effective December 1, 1997.

Appellant challenged the denial of benefits for July through November of 1997. On April 28, 1998, a Hearing Officer in the Respondent's Appeals Division conducted a fair hearing, at which time the Appellant was represented by an attorney and by her conservator. On June 4, 1998, the Hearing

Officer issued a decision upholding the denial of retroactive benefits, finding that Appellant's resources exceeded the allowable eligibility limit for the months in question.

By letter dated June 26, 1998, Appellant's conservator requested an appeal of the Hearing Officer's decision before the Administrative Law Judge Division. Respondent now moves to dismiss this action on the grounds that the letter requesting the appeal contains no allegations concerning any errors on the part of either DSS, the Respondent, or the Hearing Officer, nor does it contain any details regarding the grounds for appeal.


In order to invoke the jurisdiction of the Administrative Law Judge Division in an appeal from an agency decision, an appellant must comply with the requirements set forth in the Rules of Procedure of the Division and the Administrative Procedures Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-310, et seq. (1986 and Supp. 1997). ALJD Rule 33 governs the content of a notice of appeal to the Division from a final decision rendered by another agency. It states that the notice shall contain, inter alia, "a general statement of the grounds for appeal as provided in S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(6)." Section 1-23-380(A)(6) provides the grounds upon which a reviewing court may reverse or modify a decision of an administrative agency, including errors of law, arbitrary or capricious actions, and actions unsupported by the substantial evidence in the record. Accordingly, a notice of appeal to the Administrative Law Judge Division must at a minimum contain some allegation of the error committed by the tribunal below to be in compliance with ALJD Rule 33. Moreover, case law interpreting the Administrative Procedures Act has held, with regard to circuit court review of administrative decisions, that the "petition" required by § 1-23-380 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." Pringle v. Builders Transport, 298 S.C. 494, 381 S.E.2d 731 (1989); Smith v. S.C. Dep't of Social Services, 284 S.C. 469, 327 S.E.2d 348 (1985). Furthermore, the notice of appeal may not be amended after the expiration of the thirty day statutory period for filing the appeal. Id.

In this case, Appellant's request for an appeal, although timely filed with the Division, contains no allegations regarding any errors committed by the Hearing Officer, nor does it contain any details regarding the grounds for the appeal. Instead, it merely states that the Appellant's conservator requests "further review" of the Respondent's decision, and further states "Please let me know if there is any particular action that I need to take in this matter." In response to the conservator's letter, the Division sent a Notice of Assignment to the conservator which directed the parties to the relevant provisions of the ALJD Rules of Procedure for deadlines for perfecting the appeal and submitting briefs, and notified the parties that copies of the Rules could be obtained from the Clerk. No further action was taken by Appellant to provide the grounds for her appeal. Since the notice of appeal was insufficient to meet the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act and the ALJD Rules, and since the notice may not now be amended because the time for filing an appeal with the Division has now expired, I conclude that this matter must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.


For all the foregoing reasons, the Respondent's Motion to Dismiss is hereby granted and this matter is hereby dismissed.



Marvin F. Kittrell

Chief Judge

Columbia, South Carolina

August 19, 1998

Brown Bldg.






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