Smith v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting 16 Motion for Attorney Fees. Plaintiff is awarded the sum of $3,625.75 for attorneys fees pursuant to the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412. Signed by Honorable Mark E. Ford on August 31, 2016. (hnc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
ERESHA G. SMITH
CIVIL NO. 2:15-cv-2031-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. 16. 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. 5.
On May 12, 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 $3,926.10, representing a
total of 18.50 attorney hours for work performed in 2015 at an hourly rate of $190.29 and $400.00
in reimbursement for the filing fee. ECF No. 16. On May 26, 2016, the Defendant filed a response
objecting to several of the hours for which compensation is sought as well as the hourly rate
requested. ECF No. 19. On July 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a reply, conceding to the Defendant’s
objections. ECF No. 20.
It is the opinion of the undersigned that the Plaintiff is entitled to a fee award in this case,
as he is the prevailing party, the government’s decision to deny benefits was not “substantially
justified,” and he is entitled to an hourly rate greater than $75.00. 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) and 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). However, we agree with the
Defendant’s objections. Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to an attorney’s fee award under EAJA
of $3,625.75, which includes $3,225.75 in attorney fees and $400.00 in filing expenses.
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 $3,625.75 for attorney’s fees
pursuant to the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412.
Dated this 31st day of August 2016.
/s/ Mark E. Ford
HONORABLE MARK E. FORD
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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