Clark v. Commissioner of Social Security

Clark sought attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(2)(A): $6,790.52 in fees for 34.75 attorney hours at an hourly rate of $176.13, plus 6.70 paralegal hours at an hourly rate of $100. The rate exceeded the $125 rate set by the EAJA. Clark argued that her counsel should receive a cost of living adjustment, based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) for “Midwest Urban Consumers.” The agency requested that the court award fees at no more than $140, "the current reasonable and customary rate for experienced Social Security practitioners in the Western District of Kentucky." In her reply, Clark attached a declaration from her attorney, stating that he had practiced disability law from his Syracuse, New York, office for several years and provided his firm’s non-contingent hourly rate. Clark cited 2014 Sixth Circuit precedent, concluding that the requested rate of $176.13 was modest and appeared to be reasonable; she argued that other courts have held that the CPI alone was sufficient to justify a rate above the statutory cap. The district court awarded fees at an hourly rate of $140. The Sixth Circuit affirmed; there must be some understanding of the rates charged locally before a court can adjust for cost of living or other factors. View "Clark v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law