IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
January 29, 2009
DIANA L. WEST, PLAINTIFF,
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Theresa A. Goldner United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER DECLINING TO ORDER REMAND PURSUANT TO SENTENCE FOUR, AND DIRECTING PARTIES TO SUBMIT A CORRECTED STIPULATION AND PROPOSED ORDER
Plaintiff is proceeding with counsel with an action in which Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties have consented to the Magistrate's jurisdiction to conduct all proceedings, including ordering the entry of judgment.*fn1 Pending before the Court is the parties' stipulation and proposed order for remand pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. 26).
The fourth sentence of § 405(g) authorizes a court to enter "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). Under sentence four, a district court may remand in conjunction with a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the Commissioner's decision; immediate entry of judgment is a primary feature that distinguishes a sentence-four remand from a sentence-six remand. Shalala v. Shaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 297 (1993). A remand order pursuant to sentence four must be accompanied by a final judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the administrative decision in accordance with sentence four. Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89, 102 (1991).
The Court appreciates the efforts of the parties to identify actions that require remand and to agree to remand actions to the Commissioner without the necessity of the Court's review of the merits of such cases. In the instant case, the stipulation and order submitted to the Court (Doc.36) records the parties' stipulation that the action be remanded pursuant to sentence four for further administrative action and reflects the parties' agreement regarding the scope of the appropriate administrative action upon remand. However, it does not contain a stipulation or request regarding entry of a final judgment; it does not specifically describe the party for whom judgment should be entered, the party against whom the judgment should be entered, or the form of the judgment (i.e., a final judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the Commissioner's decision).*fn2 Because of these defects, the Court's affixing a signature to the line following the words "APPROVED AND SO ORDERED" would result in an ambiguous and incomplete order. Although the Court could fashion an order that would correct the defects in the stipulation and order submitted to the Court, in the interest of judicial economy and for the convenience of the Court, the Court will decline to sign the proposed order and will direct the parties to submit an appropriate, complete stipulation and proposed order.
Accordingly, the Court DECLINES to order remand pursuant to the document submitted by the parties on January 26, 2009, and entitled "STIPULATION AND PROPOSED ORDER OF VOLUNTARY REMAND AND DISMISSAL OF CASE, WITH DIRECTIONS TO CLERK TO ENTER JUDGMENT," (Doc. 26) without prejudice, and DIRECTS THE PARTIES to file a stipulation and order for remand pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) that, in addition to containing the parties' stipulation that the action be remanded pursuant to sentence four for further administrative action and the parties' stipulation regarding the scope of the appropriate administrative action upon remand, also contains a stipulation and request for entry of a final judgment for Plaintiff and against Defendant that reverses the decision of the Commissioner.
IT IS SO ORDERED.