Knarr v. Astrue
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting 38 Motion for Attorney Fees Fees and attorneys for the plaintiff are awarded $14,723.00. Attorneys for the plaintiff shall reimburse the $8,000.00 previously awarded directly to the plaintiff. A separate judgment is entered in conjunction with this Memorandum and Order. Ordered by Senior Judge Joseph F. Bataillon. (ADB)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
MARIE L. KNARR,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security
This matter is before the court on the plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees. Filing
No. 38. Plaintiff requests attorney fees pursuant to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
406(b). On September 3, 2013, this court reversed and remanded the Commissioner’s
denial of the plaintiff’s disability insurance benefits. Filing No. 26. Following this court’s
judgment (Filing No. 27), the plaintiff filed a motion for attorney fees under the Equal
Access to Justice Act (EAJA) as well as a motion to stay proceedings for attorney fees
under the Social Security Act.
Filing Nos. 28, 29 and 30.
This court granted the
motions, awarding a total of $8,000.00 in attorney fees under the EAJA. Filing No. 35.
Plaintiff now seeks $14,723.00 in attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b), based on the
contingency fee agreement of 25% of past-due social security benefits. Filing No. 38.
Following a successful claim under the Social Security Act, the court may award
a reasonable fee to attorneys for representing the claimant. A reasonable fee cannot
exceed 25% of the past-due Social Security benefits owed to the claimant. Additionally,
the fee must be paid “out of, and not in addition to,” the past-due benefits. 42 U.S.C. §
The attorneys were successful in their representation of the claimant, entitling
them to attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b). The defendant does not object to the
request for attorney fees, but notes the court’s responsibility to assess the
reasonableness of the fees.
In determining reasonableness, the court takes into
consideration the risk involved in taking on a contingency fee case, whether the award
is a windfall for the attorneys, and whether the fee is within the 25% limit. Gisbrecht v.
Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789 (2002). Wells v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 367, 372 (2d Cir. 1990).
The court finds the fee sought is not a windfall to the attorneys who spent a combined
total of 45.25 hours on this case. The court further finds that the plaintiff’s attorney is
highly skilled, has over thirty years of experience, and obtained a good result for his
client. After careful review of the record, including the written fee agreement between
plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorneys, the court finds the 25% award of $14,723.00 is
Attorneys for the plaintiff acknowledge the requirement to refund the previously
awarded fees under the EAJA. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b), the attorneys cannot be
awarded fees under both the Social Security Act and the EAJA. If fees are awarded
under both the attorneys are required to refund the smaller of the two.
attorneys shall return to the plaintiff the $8,000.00 previously awarded to them under the
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees, Filing No. 38, is granted and attorneys for
the plaintiff are awarded $14,723.00.
2. Attorneys for the plaintiff shall reimburse the $8,000.00 previously awarded
directly to the plaintiff.
3. A separate judgment is entered in conjunction with this Memorandum and
Dated this 10th day of August, 2015
BY THE COURT:
s/ Joseph F. Bataillon
Senior United States District Judge
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