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When we succeed in getting an unfavorable Social Security Disability (“SSD”) decision reversed in Federal Court, we apply for attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), which are for the work done at the federal court level. After we receive attorney fees for work at the administrative level, the EAJA fees go to the client. Therefore, we frequently reject the low ball offers that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) offers for EAJA fees because we recognize that those fees will eventually go to the client.
When applying for EAJA fees, we have to submit a memorandum of law explaining why we are entitled to the amount we are requesting, and a Declaration substantiating the time expended. The hourly statutory rate for EAJA fees is less than a third of the hourly market rate for attorney fees. Nonetheless, the SSA opposes our requests for EAJA fees.
Judge Cogan recently ordered the SSA to pay SSD benefits to one of our claimants. The SSA opposed our request for EAJA fees, which will be going to the claimant because payment of the SSD benefits has already been ordered. Judge Cogan stated the following about our request for EAJA fees:
“Nevertheless, there is one other point that guides the exercise of my discretion on this issue: plaintiff’s submissions were much better than the average submissions I get in social security review proceedings. Plaintiff’s submissions were more thorough, better organized, and more persuasive. It is not all that often that the Commissioner meets her match in written advocacy skill. Rather, too often in these cases, I receive little help from the plaintiff’s attorney, and must develop arguments myself that are merely mentioned. That includes having to hunt through the record to get a true sense of the longitudinal nature of the plaintiff’s treatment, which was an important issue in this case (as it is in many cases). I would rather have a plaintiff’s attorney spend an extra 10 or 15 hours preparing papers of the quality I received here than having to spend an extra 10 or 15 hours myself trying to figure out whether there is a basis for a conclusory assertion in the plaintiff’s brief.”
As a result, the claimant will be receiving thousands of dollars more than the SSA offered.
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