United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
May 28, 2015
GARY F. TAYON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RONNIE L. WHITE, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Reverse and Remand (ECF No. 28). The suit involves an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et seq. Plaintiff has filed a response indicating that he has no objection to Defendant's motion.
On October 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging disability beginning August 10, 2004. (Tr. 177) Plaintiff alleged he was unable to work due to bipolar; schizophrenic; borderline incompetent - according to the federal court system. (Tr. 104) The application was denied, and Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. 104, 109) After an August 18, 2011 hearing, the ALJ issued a Decision on October 3, 2011, finding that Plaintiff had not been under a disability since October 20, 2010. (Tr. 58-96) On December 17, 2012, the Appeals Council granted Plaintiffs request for review, vacated the hearing decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings. (Tr. 102-03) After a supplemental hearing held on May 20, 2013, the ALJ again found that Plaintiff had not been under a disability since October 20, 2010, the date he filed the application. (Tr. 10-57) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review on May 1, 2014. (Tr. 1-4) Thus the ALJ's decision is the final decision of the Commissioner.
On June 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed this civil action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision, and the Commissioner filed her Answer on September 11, 2014. On May 27, 2015, Defendant filed a Motion to Reverse and Remand pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
In the motion, Defendant asserts that, after careful review of Plaintiffs case, agency counsel requested that the Social Security Administration Appeals Council reconsider the Commissioner's decision. Upon review, the Appeals Council determined that remand was appropriate for further consideration because the ALJ failed to properly evaluate Plaintiffs claim. In addition, Defendant avers that pursuant to this Court's order of remand, the Appeals Council will remand the case to the ALJ, who will update the record, obtain evidence from a consultative examiner, and reassess the opinion evidence and Plaintiffs credibility. Further, the ALJ will reevaluate Plaintiffs residual functional capacity and, if necessary, obtain evidence from a vocational expert.
Two sentences in 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) govern remands. Shala/av. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 296 (1993); Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89, 96 (1991). Defendant requests a remand under sentence four, which states that upon review of Social Security determinations, "[t]he 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 rehearing." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Sentence four requires substantive ruling on the correctness of the administrative decision. Melkonyan, 501 U.S. at 98; Buckner v. Apfel, 213 F.3d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2000). Further, case law suggests that a district court should conduct a plenary review of the entire record before entering a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the Commissioner's decision with or without a remand order. See Schaefer, 509 U.S. at 297; Buckner, 213 F.3d at 1010.
The undersigned has reviewed the record in light of Defendant's assertions in the motion to remand. Because the Appeals Council has agreed that remand is warranted, little discussion is necessary. However, it is worth noting that Plaintiff has raised several points of error in his Brief in Support of the Complaint, including failure to consider a structured setting, failure to properly consider Plaintiffs severe impairments at Step 2, and failure to fully and fairly develop the arguments both for and against granting benefits.
In light of Defendant's motion, the Court will reverse and remand this case for further consideration. On remand, the Appeals Council will remand the case to the ALJ and direct the ALJ to update the record; obtain evidence from a consultative examiner; reassess the opinion evidence and Plaintiffs credibility; reevaluate Plaintiffs residual functional capacity; and, if necessary, obtain evidence from a vocational expert. Because Defendant agrees that the case should be remanded, and Plaintiff has no objection, the Court will grant Defendant's motion to reverse and remand under sentence four.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Reverse and Remand (ECF No. 28) is GRANTED and this cause is REVERSED and REMANDED to the Commissioner for further proceedings pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). A separate Judgment in accordance with this Memorandum and Order is entered this same date.