United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
G. BYRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on the Commissioner's
Opposed Motion for Entry of Judgment with Remand (Doc. 17),
filed January 12, 2017. On May 4, 2017, Magistrate Judge
Monte C. Richardson submitted a Report and Recommendation in
which he recommends that the Commissioner's motion be
granted in part and denied in part, that the
Commissioner's decision be reversed, and that this case
be remanded to the Commissioner solely for the purpose of
calculating and paying past-due benefits to Plaintiff. (Doc.
19). On May 18, 2017, the Commissioner filed her Objection to
the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Doc.
20), and on June 1, 2017, Plaintiff responded (Doc. 21). This
matter is ripe for review.
Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge thoroughly
recounted the factual background and procedural history
giving rise to this action, and the Commissioner does not
object to that recitation of the facts. The undersigned
therefore only briefly summarizes that this case emanates out
of Plaintiff's nine-year trek to receive Supplemental
Security Income benefits and the Commissioner's repeated
failure to properly evaluate certain medical opinion evidence
in the record, despite this Court's prior instructions.
The instant action revolves around the Commissioner's
most recent failure. Recognizing that the Commissioner again
failed to properly evaluate the medical opinion evidence at
issue, the Commissioner moves to remand the case for another
try. However, the Magistrate Judge found that, after nine
years, “there is no reason to believe that a remand for
further proceedings would produce a final decision supported
by substantial evidence and which applied the correct legal
standards.” (Doc. 19, p. 9) (citation omitted). As a
result, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this case be
remanded solely for the calculation and payment of past-due
benefits to Plaintiff. The Magistrate Judge further
determined that a sixty-day deadline should be imposed on the
Commissioner to complete the task. The Commissioner now
objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommended
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and
determine both dispositive and non-dispositive matters.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a),
(b). When a magistrate judge has been designated to decide a
matter that is dispositive in nature, as is the case here,
the magistrate judge must issue a report to the district
judge specifying the magistrate judge's proposed findings
of fact and recommended disposition. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1).
Any party who disagrees with the magistrate judge's
recommended decision has fourteen days from the date of the
recommendation to seek the district judge's review by
filing objections to those specific portions of the
recommendation disagreed with. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). The
district judge must then make a de novo determination of each
issue to which objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De
novo review “require[s] independent consideration of
factual issues based on the record.” Jeffrey S. v.
State Bd. of Educ., 896 F.2d 507, 512 (11th Cir. 1990)
(per curiam). The district judge may then accept, reject, or
modify the magistrate judge's recommendation, receive
additional evidence or briefing from the parties, or return
the matter to the magistrate judge for further review.
Commissioner does not object to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation that this case be remanded solely for the
calculation and payment of past-due benefits to Plaintiff.
Rather, the Commissioner's objection is limited to the
imposition of a sixty-day deadline for the Commissioner to
complete the task. The Commissioner contends that courts
should not prescribe mandatory deadlines for agency action.
undersigned finds the Commissioner's argument unavailing
for the reasons articulated by Plaintiff in his response
brief and in this Court's prior decision in Moran v.
Commissioner of Social Security, No.
6:15-cv-1065-Orl-40TBS, Doc. 25 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 22, 2016).
The undersigned shares Magistrate Judge Richardson's
dismay regarding the Commissioner's gross mishandling of
Plaintiff's application for benefits and the amount of
delay caused as a result. Based on how this case has
proceeded, there is no reason to believe that the
Commissioner would perform her task in a timely manner
without a court-imposed deadline and under threat of
sanction. See Cooter v. Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496
U.S. 384, 395-96 (1990) (holding that federal courts
“may consider collateral issues after an action is no
longer pending, ” such as awards of attorney's fees
and costs, the commencement of contempt proceedings, and the
imposition of sanctions due to misconduct). In the interests
of justice and in order to avoid further delay, sixty days is
an appropriate and reasonable deadline to calculate the
amount owed to Plaintiff. The Commissioner's objection
will be overruled.
independent de novo review of the record, it is ORDERED AND
ADJUDGED as follows:
Commissioner's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation (Doc. 20) is OVERRULED.
Magistrate Judge's May 4, 2017 Report and Recommendation
(Doc. 19) is ADOPTED and CONFIRMED and made a part of this
Commissioner's Opposed Motion for Entry of Judgment with
Remand (Doc. 17) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The
motion is granted to the extent it seeks reversal pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. ...