United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
DECISION AND ENTRY
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge
Ashley Thomas applied for period of disability, Disability
Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income on
January 23, 2014. She asserted that she has been under a
benefits-qualifying disability since December 16, 2013.
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Elizabeth A. Motta concluded
that she was not eligible for benefits because she is not
under a “disability” as defined in the Social
challenges the ALJ's non-disability decision in the
present case. The parties “agree that this case was
improperly decided by the [ALJ]” and that a remand to
the Social Security Administration is warranted. (Doc. #12,
PageID #1336). They disagree, however, on whether
the remand should be for an award of benefits in
Plaintiff's favor or whether further administrative
proceedings are needed. The case is before the Court upon the
Commissioner's Motion to Remand (Doc. #12),
Plaintiff's Response (Doc. #13), Commissioner's Reply
(Doc. #14), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. #9),
and the administrative record (Doc. #6).
Standard of Review
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court has
authority to affirm, modify, or reverse the
Commissioner's decision “with or without remanding
the cause for rehearing.” Melkonyan v.
Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89, 99 (1991). Consequently, a remand
under sentence four may result in the need for further
proceedings or an immediate award of benefits. E.g.,
Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 410
(6th Cir. 2009); Felisky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027,
1041 (6th Cir. 1994). “Generally, benefits may be
awarded immediately ‘only if all essential factual
issues have been resolved and the record adequately
establishes a plaintiff's entitlement to
benefits.'” Kalmbach v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 409 Fed.Appx. 852, 865 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting,
in part, Faucher v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 17 F.3d 171, 176 (6th Cir. 1994)). A judicial
award of benefits is proper “only where the proof of
disability is strong, and opposing evidence is lacking in
substance, so that remand would merely involve the
presentation of cumulative evidence, or where the proof of
disability is overwhelming.” Id. (citing
Faucher, 17 F.3d at 176; Felisky, 35 F.3d
at 1041; Mowery v. Heckler, 771 F.2d 966, 973 (6th
Commissioner seeks remand of this case for further
administrative proceedings and a new decision. According to
the Commissioner, “Upon remand, the Commissioner will
instruct the Appeals Council to vacate all findings in the
Administrative Law Judge's decision. The Commissioner
will then conduct further proceedings, offer Plaintiff a
supplemental hearing and develop the administrative record as
necessary to determine whether Plaintiff is disabled within
the meaning of the Social Security Act, and then issue a new
decision.” (Doc. #12, PageID #1336).
disagrees. She asserts that her impairments meet or equal
Listing 12.05B and/or 12.05C (Intellectual Disability).
the listing for intellectual disability,  an
individual's impairment must satisfy the diagnostic
description in the introductory paragraph and any of the four
sets of criteria. 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P, App. 1,
§ 12.00A. Listing 12.05 provides:
Intellectual disability refers to significantly subaverage
general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive
functioning initially manifested during the developmental
period; i.e., the evidence demonstrates or supports
onset of the impairment before age 22.
The required level of severity for this disorder is met when
the requirements in A, B, C, or D are satisfied.
. . .
B. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 59 or
less; OR C. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of
60 through 70 and a physical or other mental impairment
imposing an additional and ...