United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHARLES A. STAMPELOS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
prevailing party in this case, ECF Nos. 17-19, Plaintiff
filed a motion for attorney's fees pursuant to the Equal
Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d). ECF No. 20. Plaintiff's attorney
requests compensation for 44.60 hours for work performed for
a total of $9, 088.91 and costs of $400.00. Id. The
motion is accompanied by several documents including a brief,
EF No. 20-1, fee contract, ECF No. 20-2, time records, ECF
No. 20-3, consumer price index, ECF No. 20-4, and several
affidavits, ECF Nos. 20-5-7.
September 20, 2019, the Commissioner filed a response
opposing the motion in part. ECF No. 21. The Commissioner
does not challenge Plaintiff's assertion that she was the
prevailing party, the timeliness of her Complaint, her
position regarding substantial justification, or the hourly
rates requested. Id. at 4. The Commissioner objects
based on the number of hours Plaintiff's attorney claims
as reasonable. Id. at 4-5. Specifically, the
Commissioner “objects to Plaintiff's request for
6.0 hours on July 20, 2018, for Plaintiff's review of
file to determine merit for appeal and drafting and sending
memo to Chuck (Doc. 20-3).” Id. at 5;
see ECF No. 20-3 at 1 (time sheet and EAJA
calculations). The Commissioner further notes
[t]he administrative record comprises only 769 pages with
about 450 pages of medical records (Doc. 11). As outlined in
his fee petition, Plaintiff's attorney requests
compensation for 36.0 hours for preparation of the initial
brief (Doc. 20-3). However, the two issues in this case, as
raised in Plaintiff's initial brief, were routine:
whether the ALJ properly evaluated medical opinion evidence
and Plaintiff's obesity (Doc. 15). Although
Plaintiff's initial brief was approximately thirty pages
long, only eighteen pages were spent on the two substantive
issues (Doc. 15 at 11-29).
Id. at 5. In other words, the Commissioner requests
this Court to reduce the hours claimed by Plaintiff when
determining whether the case should be appealed from six to
three hours or by $606.96 (3 x $202.32) and to
reduce the amount claimed for writing the brief by ten hours
from 36 hours to no more than 26 hours, i.e., time spent from
March 6, 2019, to March 14, 2019, at $204.08 per hour or by
$2, 040.80, for a total reduction of $2, 647.76. ECF
No. 20-3 at 1, 3. Although a specific amount is not stated,
according to the Commissioner's hourly proposed
reduction, the final attorney's fees amount should be
approximately $6, 441.87 ($9, 088.91 - $2, 647.04) based on a
reduction of 13 hours. See ECF No. 20-3 at 3 and
supra at n.2. The total attorney time would be
reduced from 44.60 to 31.60.
district, Social Security cases involving review of a
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits typically
requires 25 to 30 hours to complete. See, e.g., Jackson
v. Astrue, No. 3:09cv218/MCR/MD, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
57613, at *5 (N.D. Fla. May 11, 2010), adopted, 2010
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51612 (N.D. Fla. June 10,
2010); see also Seamon v. Astrue, No.
03:10-cv-06421-HU, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148584, at *4 (D.
Or. Sept. 18, 2012) (range of 20 to 40 hours).
hourly rates are reasonable when adjusted for inflation. The
total time for which compensation is sought is 44.60 hours
and at the upper end. ECF No. 20. Rather than reducing the
hours by thirteen as sought by the Commissioner, given the
nature of the issues raised by current counsel,
smaller size of the record when compared to other social
security disability records, and the usual attorney time
needed to complete the process at the district court level,
the attorney time should be reduced by five hours rather than
13 hours, i.e., reduced two hours for the time spent
reviewing the record for appeal and three hours for the
initial brief or by $1, 016.88 (2 x $202.32; 3 x $204.08),
for a total of 39.60 hours after reducing the hours from
44.60. See supra at n.2 re hourly rates.
accordance with Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S.Ct. 2521,
2524 (2010), the EAJA fee should be made payable to
Plaintiff, not to Plaintiff's attorney. Since the fee was
assigned to Plaintiff's attorney, payment of the fee to
Plaintiff's attorney is authorized so long as Plaintiff
has no debt to the United States; and any such debt will be
offset before payment.
it is respectfully RECOMMENDED that
Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees, ECF No. 20,
be GRANTED in part and Plaintiff awarded
attorney's fees in the amount of $8, 072.03 ($9, 088.91
-$1, 016.88) as a reasonable EAJA attorney's fee and
costs of $400.00. The Commissioner should be afforded,
however, the opportunity to offset from this amount any debt
owed by the Plaintiff to the United States that may be
identified by the Department of Treasury and any ultimate
distribution shall be made in accordance with Astrue v.
 In Shalala v. Schaefer, 509
U.S. 292 (1993), the Supreme Court held that a social
security plaintiff who obtained a remand reversing the
Commissioner's decision under sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) was the “prevailing party, ” and as
such was entitled to attorney's fees and expenses under
 The hourly rate for work performed in
2018, 7.60 hours, is $202.32 (although one hour is claimed at
$202.66), and 37 hours in 2019 at $204.08, for a total of
44.60 hours. ECF No. 20-3 at 3.
 The Court in Jackson noted
that some cases may exceed those parameters. 2010 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 57613, at *5 (N.D. ...