I-4-4-5.Final Decisions After Court Remand

Last Update: 3/2/15 (Transmittal I-4-38)

A. Authority to Issue Final Decisions After Court Remand

Prior to September 13, 1989, the Appeals Council had to consider and take action on every administrative decision impacted by a court case. To accomplish this, an administrative law judge (ALJ) was required to issue a recommended decision to the Appeals Council if the court remanded the case or a prior claim was pending in court.

However, effective September 13, 1989, an ALJ now generally issues his or her own decision, rather than a recommended decision, following a court remand or while a prior claim is pending in court. See 20 CFR 404.984 and 416.1484. For general information about ALJ recommended decisions, see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-8-15 and I-3-2-50. In sum, the change in regulations provided that:

  • The Appeals Council may review the hearing decision on its own motion within 60 days after it is issued;

  • If the Appeals Council does not review the decision on its own motion, it becomes the final decision of the Commissioner after the end of the 60-day period;

  • Within 30 days following receipt of the ALJ decision, the claimant may file “exceptions” with the Appeals Council, rather than a request for review, explaining the reasons for disagreeing with the ALJ decision; and

  • After receipt of exceptions, the Appeals Council may decline to assume jurisdiction or may take jurisdiction of the case and either issue a decision or remand the case for further proceedings.

B. Schaefer v. Shalala, 509 U.S. 292 (1993)

In Schaefer v. Shalala, 509 U.S. 292 (1993), the Supreme Court explained that a district court may remand a case to the Commissioner of Social Security only as provided in sentence four or sentence six of section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 USC 405(g). For detailed information about sentence four and sentence six court remands, see HALLEX I-4-3-1.