Gandy v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER granting 22 Motion for Attorney Fees. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden on 7/7/17. (ncb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
JOE ANN GANDY
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
ORDER ON PETITION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES
Before the court is Plaintiff’s petition  for attorney’s fees pursuant to the Equal
Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). In these proceedings Plaintiff sought
judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner’s final decision denying a claim for
benefits. By Judgment  dated May 30, 2017, this court remanded this case to the
Commissioner for further proceedings. Plaintiff seeks attorney’s fees in the amount of $5,726.70
for 30.3 hours of attorney time before this court at a rate of $189.00 per hour, along with travel
expenses in the amount of $50.29, on the grounds that she was the prevailing party and the
Commissioner’s position was not “substantially justified.”
The Equal Access to Justice Act provides for the award of court costs and attorney's fees
to the “prevailing party” in a judicial review of agency action, unless the position of the United
States was “substantially justified” or “special circumstances” would make an award unjust. 28
U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). A party who wins a remand order in a social security disability case is a
“prevailing party” under the EAJA. Rice v. Astrue, 609 F.3d 831, 833–34 (5th Cir. 2010); Baker
v. Bowen, 839 F.2d 1075, 1081 (5th Cir. 1988).
Here, of course, there is no dispute that Plaintiff was the prevailing party. And, the
Commissioner raises no special circumstances that would make an award of fees unjust.
However, the Commissioner does argue that the amount of fees requested is excessive.
Specifically, it’s the Commissioner’s position that time spent with regard to two motions for
extensions of time to file a brief in support of the complaint should not be allowed because the
motions did not advance Plaintiff’s case.
The Commissioner’s objection is overruled. As an initial matter, the court notes counsel
is one of a small number of attorneys in this district whose practice largely consists of social
security cases, and he maintains a high caseload. See McClung v. Commissioner, Social Security
Administration, No. 2:13-cv-00143, 2015 WL 2197963, at * 3 (E.D. Tex. May 11, 2015)
(finding request for fees for motions for extension reasonable where attorney was one of few
who handled social security cases in the district and counsel maintained a large caseload). As
such, motions for extensions of time in social security cases are typical in this district. Next, the
docket reflects the Commissioner did not contemporaneously object to either motion, and there
is no indication of undue delay. Finally, allowing payment for the subject time under the
circumstances here will help ensure adequate representation for social security claimants. For
these reasons, the court finds the amount requested for fees and expenses, in its entirety, is
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED:
That the Commissioner shall promptly pay to Plaintiff, for the benefit of her counsel, a
total of $5,776.99.
This the 7th day of July, 2017.
/s/ Jane M. Virden
U. S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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