Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

RULE 505

Disability shall be considered to be the inability of a judicial officer to perform the functions of his office for medical or psychiatric reasons. Any justice of the Supreme Court, or any judge of the Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, or Family Court, who becomes disabled due to physiological or psychiatric impairment for a period of ninety (90) days shall submit to the Supreme Court, or shall have someone designated by him submit on his behalf, the following materials:

A. (1) A statement acknowledging permanent or prolonged medical disability and a request for early retirement due to disability,


(2) A statement advising the Court of the extent and expected duration of the disability and the judge's intentions towards returning to active service,


B. Two statements from qualified medical doctors of the judge's choosing. These statements will specify the nature of the disability, the degree of impairment, the prognosis for recovery to the extent that the judge may resume his official functions, and the probability of relapse or recurrence.

If the judge does not submit the required materials, the Court shall initiate the necessary actions to secure compliance with A(1) or (2) and B. The Court may make the determination of when the alleged impairment has existed for a period of ninety (90) days.

In the Court's decision whether disability retirement may be initiated, it may consider other medical evidence, the work product of the judge and the nature of the duties required. If the Court wishes to consider other medical evidence, the Court shall require an examination of the judge by at least two qualified physicians appointed by the Court. The expenses of the examination shall be borne by the judge. After a hearing, the Court shall determine whether the disability is likely to be permanent or prolonged to the extent that the best interests of the judicial system and the judge would not be well served by his continuance in office. Should the disability appear permanent or prohibitively protracted, the Court shall immediately order the judge's retirement on the basis of his medical disability. The judge shall be given ten (10) days in which to petition the Court for reconsideration of its order.

Should the Court determine the disability to be of a temporary nature, the judge shall be so informed and shall be directed to submit, on a quarterly basis, reports stating the status of his health and the date of his expected return to service. Such statements shall be accompanied by reports from two qualified medical doctors of the judge's choosing who will evaluate his current condition and rate of recovery.

Upon receipt of each quarterly report, the Court shall evaluate the nature and extent of the disability in conjunction with reports submitted earlier. The Court shall determine on the basis of each report whether the disability appears permanent or protracted to the extent that the best interests of the judicial system and the judge would not be well served by his continuance in office, or, whether there is a substantial possibility of recovery to the extent that the judge will fully resume his functions. The Court shall notify the submitting judge of its decision and either order retirement due to medical disability or direct that quarterly reports continue to be submitted. Any judge for whom the Court orders retirement after receipt of a quarterly report shall be granted a hearing by the Court if he petitions the Court for a rehearing within ten (10) days after the order is entered.

The confidentiality provisions of Rule 12 contained in Rule 502, SCACR, shall be applicable to proceedings and files under this Rule. An order directing retirement shall, however, be public.