United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
RANDALL E. REYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge
matter is before the court on “Plaintiff’s
Attorney’s Motion for an Award of Attorneys Fees Under
42 U.S.C. § 406(b)”, filed by the Plaintiff on
June 15, 2016. The defendant Commissioner responded to the
motion on June 29, 2016, indicating that the Commissioner
does not object to the award of fees as requested.
following reasons the motion will be granted.
filed claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB-Title II)
on January 4, 2011. Plaintiff’s claim was denied on
March 4, 2011. (R. at 79-86) Plaintiff filed a request for
reconsideration, but was denied again on April 29, 2011. (R.
at 88-94) Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
November 3, 2011. (R. at 95-96) Plaintiff retained a
different attorney, Ronald D. Miller for representation
October 26, 2011. (R. at 131) He also agreed to “pay
the costs of development of my claim(s), including but not
limited to [ ] costs for medical records/reports that may be
requested by my attorney at his/her discretion.”
Id. On May 22, 2012 Plaintiff appeared in Fort
Wayne, Indiana before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Valencia
Jarvis of the Fort Wayne, Indiana Office of Disability
Adjudication and Review (ODAR). (R.. at 31-64) On June 15,
2012, Judge Jarvis issued an unfavorable determination. (R.
August 16, 2012, Plaintiff retained Keller & Keller LLP
for representation. (Exbt. 2A). Plaintiff agreed that
“if any of my claim(s) progress beyond the Office of
Hearing and Appeals administrative hearing level for review .
. . and then is favorably decided that my attorney may elect
to use the fee petition process to petition for up to 25% of
all past due benefits without limitation.” Id.
Subsequent to retaining Keller & Keller LLP for
representation, Plaintiff filed a request for review with the
Appeals Council, but the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff’s request for review on October 22, 2013. (R.
then timely filed this civil action. (Dkt. 1) On December 10,
2013, this court issued an order to reverse the
Commissioner’s unfavorable determination and remand the
case for further consideration under sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). (Dkt. 39, 41)
April 27, 2015, Plaintiff’s attorney obtained an order
for an award of attorney’s fees under the Equal Access
to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. §
2412(a)-(d), from this Court in the amount of $6, 000.00.
(Dkt. 44) Plaintiff’s attorney has received of $4,
552.64 of this payment.
his claim was reconsidered by the agency, Plaintiff’s
claim for disability benefits was approved on March 2, 2016.
(Plaintiff’s Exhibit 2D) Plaintiff has been awarded
past-due Title II benefits totaling $59, 875.00.
(Plaintiff’s Exhibit 2B at 3)
Social Security Act's provisions governing fees for
representation are found in 42 U.S.C. § 406. See
Gisbrecht v Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 794 (2002)
(reviewing history of attorney fees under the Social Security
Act). Section 406(a) governs fees for representing claimants
in the administrative process, so a federal court does not
determine whether to award any fee for representation under
section 406(a). 42 U.S.C. § 406(a). Section 406(b)
governs attorney fees for successful litigation for benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act such as Disability
Insurance Benefits, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(I), 423, and,
pursuant to § 302 of Public Law 108-203, for litigation
for benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act or
Supplemental Security Income, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1382,
1382a. 42 U.S.C. § 406(b).
Whenever a court renders a judgment favorable to a claimant .
. . who was represented before the court by an attorney, the
court may determine and allow as part of its judgment a
reasonable fee for such representation, not in excess of 25
percent of the total of the past-due benefits . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1).
court must review all fee requests under § 406(b).
Congress intended such review not to override the claimant
and counsel's fee arrangement but rather to act as an
"independent check" to ensure that the arrangement
yielded a reasonable result in the particular case.
Gisbrecht, 535 U.S. at 807. "Congress has
provided one boundary line: Agreements are unenforceable to
the extent that they provide for fees exceeding 25 percent of
the past-due benefits." Id. Within the 25%
boundary, the attorney for the successful claimant must show
that the fee sought is reasonable for the services rendered.
Id. In making this determination, the court may
consider the character of the representation and the results
obtained, reducing an award if the attorney is responsible
for delay in the proceeding that had the ...