Sullivan v. Apfel

2000 | Cited 0 times | D. Maine | June 6, 2000

ORDER

The Appeals Council has remanded this case to the Administrative Law Judge in order to obtain additional evidence regarding the claims. The case remains in a pending status before the Administrative Law Judge. Nevertheless, the plaintiff wants this Court to review the case now. Because the Appeals Council=s decision to remand is not a Afinal decision@ under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. ' 405(g) (West Supp. 1999), and the case is still pending before the Administrative Law Judge, I have no jurisdiction at this time to hear the claim. Therefore, I GRANT the defendant=s motion to dismiss.

Federal courts can review only the Afinal@ decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. 42 U.S.C.A. ' 405(g) (West Supp. 1999). A decision to remand for the purpose of obtaining additional evidence is not a Afinal@ decision, because additional fact finding is needed. See Duda v. Secretary of Health and Human Serv., 834 F.2d 554, 555 (6th Cir. 1987) (per curiam); cf. Director, Office of Workers Compensation Program v. Bath Iron Works Corp., 853 F.2d 11, 13-15 (1st Cir. 1988) (under Longshore and Harbor Workers= Compensation Act, which provides for judicial review of Afinal@ orders of the Benefit Review Board, an order remanding to the Administrative Law Judge is not a Afinal@ decision). Indeed, the benefits of requiring administrative exhaustion would be lost if a court reviewed an agency decision before the agency completed its own evaluation of the evidence.

The regulations do not dictate a contrary result. They explicitly distinguish between a remand and a decision by the Appeals Council. AAfter it has reviewed all the evidence in the administrative law judge hearing record and any additional evidence received . . . , the Appeals Council will make a decision or remand the case to an administrative law judge.@ 20 C.F.R. ' 404.979 (1999) (emphasis added). Until the Appeals Council makes a decision or declines to review the Administrative Law Judge=s decision, there is no Afinal@ decision of the Commissioner with respect to that claim. See 20 C.F.R. ' 404.981 (1999).

Therefore, I GRANT the defendant=s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

SO ORDERED.

DATED THIS 6TH DAY OF JUNE, 2000.

Civil Docket for Case #: 00-CV-26

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