United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Knepp, II United States Magistrate Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for attorney's
fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d), seeking $3,
022.25 in fees. (Doc. 21). Defendant, the acting Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”), did not
oppose the motion. (Doc. 22). For the reasons discussed below
the undersigned grants the motion, but in the amount of $2,
to the instant motion, on March 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed an
application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) alleging disability as of February 17,
2014. (Tr. 206-11). Plaintiff's application was denied
initially, and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 137-45; 149-53).
Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 154-56).
On October 19, 2015, the ALJ held a hearing at which
Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr. 42-97). On December 3,
2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which he found
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 13-36). On November 28, 2016,
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making the hearing decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-7); 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.1455,
then filed a complaint with United States District Court.
(Doc. 1). Following the Commissioner's Answer
(Doc. 11), and filing of the administrative Transcript (Doc.
12), Plaintiff filed his brief on the merits (Doc. 15). In
it, he alleged the ALJ: 1) failed to properly give good
reasons for rejecting a treating psychiatrist's opinion,
and 2) did not consider the combination of all of
Plaintiff's impairments, rendering the residual
functional capacity determination not based on substantial
evidence. (Doc. 15). Two and one-half months later, the
parties filed a joint motion to remand. (Doc. 18). The
undersigned granted that motion, and remanded the case.
(Docs. 19, 20).
Equal Access to Justice Act
normal circumstances, each party is responsible for its own
legal fees. Scarborough v. Principi, 541
U.S. 401, 404 (2004). However, because paying for one's
own legal fees can make litigation cost prohibitive, the EAJA
exists to encourage lay people to seek review of unreasonable
government action without fear of the substantial cost that
litigation can entail. The EAJA provides, in pertinent part:
[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 (other than cases sounding in
tort), including proceedings for judicial review of agency
action, brought by or against the United States in any court
having jurisdiction of that action, 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).
case it is undisputed that Plaintiff is a prevailing party
because this Court issued a sentence-four remand based on the
parties' joint motion. Shalala v. Schaefer, 509
U.S. 293, 301 (1993). Neither side contends that special
circumstances make an award unjust. As such, Plaintiff is
entitled to attorney's fees and additional expenses if
the government's position was not substantially
government's position is “substantially
justified” if it had “a reasonable basis in both
law and in fact” or was “justified to a degree
that could satisfy a reasonable person.” Pierce v.
Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 564-65 (1988). The
government's “position” includes both the
underlying action and the government's litigation
position. 42 U.S.C. §2412(d)(2)(D); Delta Eng'g
v. United States, 41 F.3d 259, 261 (6th Cir. 1994). The
burden of showing substantial justification rests upon the
agency. Scarborough v. Principi, 541 U.S. 401,
Plaintiff argues the Commissioner's decision was not
substantially justified. The Commissioner bears the burden of
proving its position was substantially justified; she has not
met that burden because she did not object to Plaintiff's
motion. The Commissioner also agreed to a sentence-four
remand. (Doc. 18). By agreeing to remand, and not objecting
to the instant motion, the Commissioner essentially conceded
her position below ...