United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Phillip J. Green United States Magistrate Judge.
was a social security action brought under 42 U.S.C. Â§'
405(g), 1383(c)(3), seeking review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's
claims for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and
supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. On May 22, 2016,
the undersigned judicial officer filed a report and
recommendation that the case be remanded due to the
Administrative Law Judge's failure to provide adequate
reasons for discounting the opinion of plaintiff's
treating physician. (ECF No. 15). Neither party filed an
objection. Accordingly, on June 9, 2016, District Judge Janet
T. Neff entered an order adopting the report and
recommendation as the opinion of the Court. (ECF No. 16).
Judgment was entered vacating the Commissioner's decision
and remanding the case for further administrative proceedings
under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (ECF No. 17).
matter is now before the Court on the parties'
stipulation for attorney's fees under the Equal Access to
Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. (ECF No. 18). For
the reasons set forth herein, I recommend that the
stipulation be granted, and that a judgment be entered in
plaintiff's favor in the amount of $6, 610.75.
EAJA provides in relevant part:
Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, a court
shall award to a prevailing party other than the United
States fees and other expenses . . . incurred by that party
in any civil action . . ., including proceedings for judicial
review of agency action, brought by or against the United
States . . ., unless the court finds that the position of the
United States was substantially justified or that special
circumstances make an award unjust.
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A); see Astrue v.
Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, 591-93 (2010). The Sixth Circuit
has identified three conditions that must be met to recover
attorney's fees under the EAJA: (1) the claimant must be
a prevailing party; (2) the government's position must be
without substantial justification; and (3) there are no
special circumstances which would warrant a denial of fees.
See DeLong v. Commissioner, 748 F.3d 723, 725 (6th
Cir. 2014); Marshall v. Commissioner, 444 F.3d 837,
840 (6th Cir. 2006).
is a prevailing party under this Court's order remanding
this matter to the Commissioner. See Shalala v.
Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 298 (1993). Plaintiff is a
financially eligible person under the EAJA. Through her
stipulation, the Commissioner concurs that there is no
special circumstance that would warrant denial of fees, and
that the government's position was not substantially
justified. (ECF No. 18, PageID.1374). See Scarborough v.
Principi, 541 U.S. 401, 414 (2004); Peck v.
Commissioner, 165 F.App'x 443, 446 (6th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney's fees and
other costs under the EAJA. See 28 U.S.C. §
a court makes a threshold determination that a party is
eligible for EAJA fees, it looks to the lodestar amount as a
starting point for calculating a reasonable fee award.”
Minor v. Commissioner, 826 F.3d 878, 881(6th Cir.
2016). The Sixth Circuit has cautioned lower courts against
“rubber stamping” EAJA fee applications. See
Begley v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 966
F.2d 196, 200 (6th Cir. 1992).
EAJA requires “an itemized statement from [the]
attorney . . . representing or appearing in behalf of the
party stating the actual time expended and the rate at which
fees and other expenses were computed.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412(d)(1)(B). Plaintiff seeks compensation for 36.29
hours in attorney time and 2.60 hours of paralegal time. (ECF
No. 18, PageID.1373). Having reviewed the record, I find that
this is reasonable for the work performed in this case.
EAJA generally caps the hourly rate for attorney's fees
at $125 per hour. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A).
“[T]he statutory rate is a ceiling and not a
floor.” Chipman v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 781 F.2d 545, 547 (6th Cir. 1986).
seeks to recover at an hourly rate of $175.00 for the
attorney time and $100.00 for the paralegal time. (ECF No.21,
Page.ID.642, 644). The requested rate is well above the
statutory cap. The EAJA specifies that “attorney's
fees shall not be awarded in excess of $125 per hour unless
the court determines that an increase in the cost of living
or a special factor, such as the limited availability of
qualified attorneys for the proceedings involved, justifies a
higher fee.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A). The