Martin v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER granting re 26 Motion for Attorney Fees Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C Sect. 2412. The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiffs motion and awards attorneys fees in the amount of $6,696.95 and expenses in the amount of $23.00. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 5/6/22. (loh)
Case 1:20-cv-00169-JRH-BKE Document 29 Filed 05/06/22 Page 1 of 2
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
FREDDERICK ALLEN MARTIN,
KILOLO KIJAKAZI, Acting Commissioner )
of Social Security Administration,
On January 27, 2022, Chief United States District Judge J. Randal Hall granted a
reversal and remand pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and a judgment was
entered in Plaintiff’s favor. (Doc. nos. 24, 25.) Plaintiff now moves, under the Equal Access
to Justice Act (“EAJA”), for $6,696.95 in attorney’s fees and $23.00 in expenses for mailing
expenses related to service upon Defendant. (Doc. no. 26.) Defendant does not oppose the
fee request. (Doc. no. 28.)
In Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, 589 (2010), the Supreme Court held, based on the
“plain text” of 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d), that an EAJA award “is payable to the litigant and is
therefore subject to a Government offset to satisfy a pre-existing debt that the litigant owes the
United States.” Based on Ratliff, the proper course is to “award the EAJA fees directly to
Plaintiff as the prevailing party and remain silent regarding the direction of payment of those
fees.” Bostic v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 858 F. Supp. 2d 1301, 1306 (M.D. Fla. 2011). Indeed,
this approach has been followed in this District. See Shank v. Berryhill, CV 116-030, doc. no.
Case 1:20-cv-00169-JRH-BKE Document 29 Filed 05/06/22 Page 2 of 2
20 (S.D. Ga. May 24, 2017) (awarding EAJA fees to plaintiff without directing payment to
counsel despite plaintiff’s assignment of award to counsel); Brown v. Astrue, CV 411-152,
doc. no. 24 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 4, 2013) (same); Scott v. Colvin, CV 313-004, doc. no. 26 (S.D.
Ga. Nov. 11, 2013) (same).
In accord with this practice, the Court awards the EAJA fees to Plaintiff, subject to
offset by any debt owed by Plaintiff to the United States. The Court leaves it “to the discretion
of the government to accept Plaintiff’s assignment of EAJA Fees and pay fees directly to
Plaintiff[’s] counsel after a determination that Plaintiff does not owe a federal debt.” Bostic,
858 F. Supp. 2d at 1306; see also Robinson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 8:13-CV-2073-T23TGW, 2015 WL 176027, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 13, 2015) (allowing EAJA fees “to be paid
by virtue of a fee assignment, to plaintiff’s counsel by the defendant if the plaintiff does not
owe a debt to the United States Department of the Treasury”); Griffin v. Astrue, 1:10cv115,
2010 WL 5211548, at *3 (W.D.N.C. Dec. 16, 2010) (“There is nothing in Ratliff to indicate
that it is intended to divest the government of its discretion to enter into direct payment
arrangements where there is no debt to the government or where funds remain after satisfaction
of such debt.”). The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion, (doc. no. 26), and awards
attorney’s fees in the amount of $6,696.95 and expenses in the amount of $23.00.
SO ORDERED this 6th day of May, 2022, at Augusta, Georgia.
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