Smithson v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER awarding Attorney Fees in the amount of $2,938.10. Signed by Honorable Mark E. Ford on February 18, 2016. (lw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
JANET GAIL SMITHSON
CIVIL NO. 2:14-cv-02204-MEF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pending now before this Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney Fees Under the Equal
Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”). (ECF No. 13, 14) The parties have consented to the jurisdiction
of a Magistrate Judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, and pursuant to said
authority, the Court issues this Order. (ECF No. 6)
On February 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412, the Equal Access to Justice Act (hereinafter “EAJA”) requesting $2,938.10 representing a
total of 1.25 attorney hours for work performed in 2014 at an hourly rate of $173.07, and 15.75
attorney hours for work performed in 2015 at an hourly rate of $172.81. (ECF No. 13-1) On
February 17, 2016, the Defendant filed a response voicing no objections to the Plaintiff’s request
for fees. (ECF No. 15)
It is the opinion of the undersigned that the Plaintiff is entitled to a fee award in this case,
as she is the prevailing party, the government’s decision to deny benefits was not “substantially
justified”, the hourly rate requested does not exceed the CPI for either year in question, and the
time asserted to have been spent in the representation of the Plaintiff before the district court is
reasonable. See Jackson v. Bowen, 807 F.2d 127, 128 (8th Cir. 1986) (burden is on the
Commissioner to show substantial justification for the government’s denial of benefits); Johnson
v. Sullivan, 919 F.2d 503 (8th Cir. 1990) (the hourly rate may be increased when there is
“uncontested proof of an increase in the cost of living sufficient to justify hourly attorney’s fees
of more than $75.00 an hour); and Allen v. Heckler, 588 F.Supp. 1247 (W.D.N.Y. 1984) (in
determining reasonableness, court looks at time and labor required; the difficulty of questions
involved; the skill required to handle the problems presented; the attorney’s experience, ability,
and reputation; the benefits resulting to the client from the services; the customary fee for similar
services; the contingency or certainty of compensation; the results obtained; and, the amount
involved). Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to an attorney’s fee award under EAJA in the amount
Pursuant to Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S.Ct. 2521, 2528 (2010), the EAJA fee award should be
made payable to Plaintiff. However, as a matter of practice, an EAJA fee made payable to Plaintiff
may properly be mailed to Plaintiff’s counsel.
The parties are reminded that, in order to prevent double recovery by counsel for the
Plaintiff, the award herein under the EAJA will be taken into account at such time as a reasonable
fee is determined pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406.
Based upon the foregoing, Plaintiff is awarded the sum of $2,938.10 for attorney’s fees
pursuant to the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412.
Dated this 18th day of February, 2016.
/s/ Mark E. Ford
HONORABLE MARK E. FORD
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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