Estes v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration
ORDER granting 19 Motion for Attorney Fees, awarding $2,765.88 in attorney's fees and $20.01 in expenses. Signed by Honorable J Michelle Childs on 10/25/2017.(bshr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security
Civil Action No.: 1:16-cv-03343-JMC
This matter is before the court on motion of Plaintiff, through his attorney, Paul T.
McChesney (“Counsel”), for an award of attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). (ECF No. 19.) On September 6, 2017, Counsel filed a Motion
for Attorney’s Fees seeking the authorization of payment for Counsel’s representation in the
captioned matter of $2,765.88, and expenses in the amount of $20.01. (Id.) Defendant’s
Response to Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees notifies the court that she does not oppose
Plaintiff’s request for fees in the amount stated herein. (ECF No. 20.)
In order to be entitled to an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to the EAJA, the court must
find that the position of the government was not “substantially justified,” that the plaintiff is the
prevailing party, and that no “special circumstances” make an award of fees unjust. 28 U.S.C.
§2412(d)(1)(A). A plaintiff who obtains judgment and remand pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. §405(g) is a prevailing party because the plaintiff achieved “some of the
benefit . . . sought in bringing suit.” Shalala v. Shaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 303 (1993). The burden of
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d), Nancy A. Berryhill is substituted for
Carolyn Colvin as the named defendant because she became the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security on January 23, 2017.
proof is on the defendant to demonstrate to the court that the Commissioner’s position in this
civil action was substantially justified. Marcus v. Shalala, 17 F.3d 1033, 1036 (7th Cir. 1994).
“Whether or not the position of the United States was substantially justified shall be
determined on the basis of the record (including the record with respect to the action or failure to
act by the agency upon which the civil action is based) which is made in the civil action for
which fees and other expenses are sought.” 28 U.S.C. §2412(d)(1)(B) as amended; see also
§2412(d)(2)(D) as amended. The government’s position is substantially justified if it is “justified
to a degree that could satisfy a reasonable person.” Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565
(1988). The “position of the government” includes the agency’s pre-litigation conduct.
After reviewing Counsel’s supporting memorandum (ECF No. 19-1), fee agreement
(ECF No. 19-2), affidavits (ECF Nos. 19-3, 19-4), and Consumer Prices Indexes (ECF Nos. 195, 19-6), and Defendant’s Response (ECF No. 20), the court concludes Counsel’s request for
attorney’s fees is reasonable.
In accordance with Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586 (2010), EAJA fees awarded by this
court belong to the litigant, thus subjecting EAJA fees to offset under the Treasury Offset
Program (31 U.S.C. § 3716(c)(3)(B) (2006)). Therefore, the court directs that fees be payable to
Plaintiff and delivered to Plaintiff's counsel. The amount of attorney’s fees payable to Plaintiff
will be the balance of attorney’s fees remaining after subtracting the amount of Plaintiff’s
outstanding federal debt. If Plaintiff’s outstanding federal debt exceeds the amount of attorney’s
fees approved pursuant to this Order, the amount of attorney’s fees will be used to offset
Plaintiff’s federal debt and no attorney’s fees shall be paid. (See ECF No. 20.)
After a thorough review of the record in this case, the court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion
for Attorney’s Fees (ECF No. 19), and Plaintiff shall be awarded $2,765.88 in attorney’s fees
and $20.01 in expenses.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
October 25, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
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