Staton v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER granting 22 Commissioner's Motion to Remand Under Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) with Remand to Defendant; reversing and remanding to the Commissioner for further action as stated in order; directing counsel for the Commiss ioner to file a status report no later than 5/31/2023 and every 60 days thereafter until a decision is reached; providing information to plaintiff's counsel regarding any future § 406(b) attorney's fee motion; directing the Clerk to enter judgment in favor of plaintiff and against the Commissioner and close the file. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Corrigan on 1/19/2023. (SRW)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 3:22-cv-106-TJC-LLL
Acting Commissioner of Social Security
This case is before the Court on plaintiff’s appeal of an administrative
decision denying her claims for disability, disability insurance benefits, and
supplemental security income under the Social Security Act (Doc. 1).
Acting Commissioner filed a motion seeking entry of judgment in favor of
plaintiff and a remand under sentence four so the Commissioner could further
evaluate plaintiff’s claim (Doc. 22). Plaintiff supports a remand but contends
the record is complete and further evaluation is unnecessary so the Court
should remand for an award of benefits on her Title XVI claim and a
determination of her disability start date on her Title II claim (Doc. 24). The
Court directed the parties to try to reach agreement as to the terms of a remand
(Doc. 25); when those efforts failed, the Commissioner filed a reply to plaintiff’s
response (Doc. 26).
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While the Court understands plaintiff’s exasperation with the length of
time that has transpired since she initially applied for benefits, plaintiff is
asking the Court to invade the province of the Commissioner by evaluating the
record to reach a finding of disability. This it cannot do. See, e.g., McDaniel
v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1032 (11th Cir. 1986) (explaining that the court must
resist the temptation in social security appeals to “cut through delay by
evaluating the administrative record itself” as doing so would be an affront to
the administrative process).
The Court therefore must remand for further
Accordingly, upon review, it is hereby
The Commissioner’s Opposed Motion for Entry of Judgment Under
Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) with Remand to Defendant (Doc. 22) is
Pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this case is
REVERSED and REMANDED to the Commissioner of Social Security for
further action. Upon remand, the Administrative Law Judge shall (1) provide
plaintiff with an opportunity for a new hearing; (2) reevaluate plaintiff’s alleged
In her brief in opposition to the Commissioner’s decision (Doc. 17),
plaintiff advocated for a finding of disability but alternatively moved for a
remand for further proceedings, which seems an implicit acknowledgement that
the record is not as clear as she now contends.
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symptoms; (3) reevaluate plaintiff’s residual functional capacity; (4) obtain
supplemental vocational expert testimony to evaluate whether plaintiff can
perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy with her residual
functional capacity; and (5) take such other steps as are necessary to properly
evaluate plaintiff’s claim.
Given the length of time that has transpired since plaintiff filed her
claim, the Commissioner is requested to expedite the reevaluation to the extent
Notwithstanding that this case will be closed following remand,
beginning on May 31, 2023 and every 60 days thereafter until a decision is
reached, counsel for the Commissioner shall file a status report in this case to
advise of the status of the reevaluation.
If plaintiff ultimately prevails in this case upon remand to the
Social Security Administration, any motion for attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C.
§ 406(b) and/or 42 U.S.C. § 1383(d)(2) must be filed within fourteen days from
plaintiff’s counsel’s receipt of any “close-out” letter. The motion must include
the agency letter stating the amount of past-due benefits withheld, include any
applicable contingency fee agreement, and establish the fee is reasonable for
the services rendered. This Order does not extend the time limits for filing a
motion for attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. §
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The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of plaintiff and
against the Commissioner and close the file.
DONE AND ORDERED in Jacksonville, Florida this 19th day of
Counsel of record
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