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Thomas v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 08-4593

By FindLaw Staff on November 18, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

District court's partial remand of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security vacated

Thomas v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 08-4593, concerned a challenge to the district court's order partially remanding a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, denying plaintiff's claim for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act.  In vacating and remanding, the court held that the district court abused its discretion in its order when it remanded a single issue to the ALJ for clarification without directing the ALJ to fully develop the record prior to rendering an explanatory decision.

As the court wrote: "Here, the district court's remand to the Commissioner runs afoul of the essence of Burnett because it does not direct the ALJ to reopen and fully develop the record before rendering a ruling.  By not giving the Commissioner explicit instructions to fully develop the record, the District Court essentially gave the ALJ the license to issue an advisory opinion, which is exactly what occurred here."


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