Healy v. Colvin
District Judge Timothy S. Hillman: MEMORANDUM AND ORDER entered granting 19 Motion for Order Reversing Decision of Commissioner and granting in part and denying in part 22 Motion to Remand. (Castles, Martin)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR ORDER REVERSING THE COMMISSIONER’S
DECISION (Docket No. 19) AND DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO REMAND
THE CAUSE TO DEFENDANT (Docket No. 22)
July 19, 2017
Plaintiff Joseph Healy appeals a partially favorable decision by the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) awarding him disability insurance benefits effective January 31, 2013.
His appeal seeks further review of the onset date, which Plaintiff asserts should have been found
to have been June 15, 2010. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”)
determination that he retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to do sedentary work
before January 31, 2013 was erroneous. After answering the complaint, defendant filed the
current motion before the court to reverse the decision and remand the case for further review.
Although plaintiff sought reversal of the January 31, 2013 disability onset date, he objects to
defendant’s motion for remand to the extent it seeks to have the entire decision reviewed, rather
than just the onset date determination. For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that the
matter be remanded for further consideration of only the disputed time period from June 15,
2010 to January 31, 2013.
The parties agree that the matter should be remanded, but disagree on the scope of review
on remand. Defendant has moved for a remand under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which
The court shall have power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the
record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a
Id. (2003). Defendant concedes that the ALJ failed to adequately evaluate Plaintiff’s
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) prior to January 31, 2013, but argues that the remand
should allow the ALJ to reconsider the entire case, including the portion of the decision
favorable to the Plaintiff. Plaintiff has moved to reverse only the portion of the ALJ’s October
31, 2014 decision that failed to find him disabled prior to January 31, 2013. The sole issue before
the Court is what the scope of review on remand should be.
Federal courts have the power to limit the scope of review on remand by specifying
actions to be taken by the ALJ. See Sullivan v. Hudson, 490 U.S. 877, 885, 109 S.Ct. 2248, 104
(1989); see Steele v. Astrue, 2011 WL 4635136, at *1 (D.Me. Oct. 5, 2011), report and
recommendation adopted, 2011 WL 5069403 (D.Me. Oct. 25, 2011) (noting the power of the
district courts to limit the scope of remand to the SSA).
Several federal courts have considered the question of whether the scope of remand
should permit an ALJ to review a finding of disability on the issue presented here, for a
particular time period where the claimant was only seeking review of the time period where the
ALJ found no disability. Those courts that have reviewed this issue have found that where the
Commissioner has not presented a particular reason as to why the ALJ’s finding of disability for
one time period should be disturbed in light of the re-evaluation regarding another time period
and the court can discern no such issue, there is no reason for the ALJ to re-visit the favorable
portion of the prior determination on remand. See Scalf v. Astrue, 2012 EL 2873999 (D.S.C. July
12, 20120, citing Lynch v. Astrue, No. 3:08–cv–547, 2009 WL 674381, at *2 (D.S.C. March 13,
2009); Ocasio v. Astrue, No. 08–cv–2016, 2009 WL 2905448, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Sept.4, 2009);
Jameson v. Astrue, No. 09–cv–237, 2010 WL 1568474, at *1–2 (D.N.H. March 15, 2010); but
see Lyons v. Astrue, No. 3:11–cv–495 2012 WL 2505184, at *2 (E.D.Va. June 4, 2012) (holding
that the scope of review on remand included review of the entire time period adjudicated by the
In Jameson and Scalf, the courts noted that a remand order limiting review to the
unfavorable time period was consistent with the scheme set forth in the Social Security Act
whereby the Commissioner cannot get a disability determination reversed and only claimants are
allowed to seek review of benefits decisions. This is also consistent with the Sullivan rule that
allows the district court to limit the scope of the remand to the SSA. This Court agrees with the
reasoning in Jameson and Scalf and finds the case to be in a similar procedural position.
For the reasons set forth above, I order that this matter be remanded for further
consideration of Plaintiff’s RFC during the period from his alleged onset date of June 15, 2010,
through the determined onset date of January 31, 2013. The ALJ will re-evaluate the opinion
evidence of record, reassess the claimant’s RFC, and obtain supplemental evidence as needed to
explain the basis for increasing the claimant’s RFC.
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to remand (Docket No. 22) is granted in part and
denied in part, and that Plaintiff’s motion to reverse (Document No. 19) is granted. The case is
remanded for a new hearing and further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
/s/ Timothy S. Hillman
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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