Rivers v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
ORDER granting 32 Motion for Attorney Fees. It is therefore ordered that Plaintiff is awarded $5,451.46 in attorney's fees as requested by Plaintiff's counsel. The fees must be paid to Plaintiff. Signed by Magistrate Judge Thomas E Rogers, III on 9/27/2012.(gnan )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
CIVIL ACTION 4:11-01386-TER
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees pursuant to the Equal
Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. 2412(d). Plaintiff requests $5,451.46 in attorney’s fees
on the grounds that he is a prevailing party entitled to attorney’s fees by the EAJA.1 Defendant
contests the awarding of such fees, asserting the government’s position was substantially justified.
However, Defendant did not object to the calculation of the fee. Plaintiff filed a reply to the
Plaintiff filed applications for SSI on November 10, 2009, alleging disability beginning
September 10, 2009.
His applications were denied at all administrative levels, and upon
reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. A hearing was held before the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) on September 28, 2010. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on October
22, 2010, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. After the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for
review, Plaintiff sought judicial review in this court by the filing of a complaint on June 7, 2011.
Plaintiff’s attorney seeks an award of $5,451.46 in EAJA fees at $169.30 an hour for a
total of 32.20 hours of work in federal court. (Doc. #32).
Plaintiff was ultimately successful in this court, obtaining a judgment filed July 5, 2012, that
reversed and remanded the case to the Commissioner for a new hearing pursuant to sentence four
of 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
Under the EAJA, a court shall award reasonable attorneys' fees to a prevailing party in
certain civil actions against the United States unless it finds that the government's position was
substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust. 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(1)(A) (2010). The government has the burden of proving that its position was substantially
justified. Crawford v. Sullivan, 935 F.2d 655, 658 (4th Cir.1991). “The government's position must
be substantially justified in both fact and law.” Thompson v. Sullivan, 980 F.2d 280, 281 (4th
Cir.1992). Substantially justified does not mean “justified to a high degree, but rather justified in
substance or in the main—that is, justified to a degree that could satisfy a reasonable person.” Pierce
v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565, 108 S.Ct. 2541, 101 L.Ed.2d 490 (1988) (internal quotations
omitted). When determining whether Defendant's position was substantially justified, the court
should avoid an issue-by-issue analysis and should consider the totality of the circumstances.
Roanoke River Basin Ass'n v. Hudson, 991 F.2d 132, 138–39 (4th Cir.1993); May v. Sullivan, 936
F.2d 176, 177 (4th Cir.1991).
Applying this standard to the facts of this case, the court has concluded that the position of
the Commissioner was not substantially justified. Therefore, after a thorough review of the record
in this case, the court determines that a proper showing has been made under EAJA and that the fees
and costs sought should be approved by this court.
Based on the foregoing and after considering the briefs and materials submitted by the
parties, Plaintiff’s motion is granted, and it is therefore ordered that Plaintiff is awarded $5,451.46
in attorney's fees as requested by Plaintiff's counsel.2
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Thomas E. Rogers, III
Thomas E. Rogers, III
United States Magistrate Judge
September 27, 2012
Florence, South Carolina
The fees must be paid to Plaintiff. See Astrue v. Ratliff, --- U.S.---, 130 S.Ct. 2521, 177
L.Ed. 2d 91 (June 14, 2010) (holding that the plain text of the EAJA requires that attorney's fees
be awarded to the litigant, thus subjecting EAJA fees to offset of any pre-existing federal debts);
see also Stephens v. Astrue, 565 F.3d 131, 139 (4th Cir.2009) (same).
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