United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
KATHLEEN S. BANKS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RAY, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Uncontested Motion for
Attorney's Fees Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice
Act (“EAJA”) filed March 11, 2019. (ECF No. 22).
successfully appealed the final decision of the Social
Security Commissioner that denied her application for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income under Titles II and XVI, respectively, of the Social
Security Act. (ECF Nos. 20, 21). The Court reversed the
Commissioner's decision and remanded the case for further
the EAJA, the Court must award attorneys' fees and
expenses if: (1) the claimant is the “prevailing
party”; (2) the government's position was not
“substantially justified”; and (3) there are not
special circumstances that make an award unjust. See
Murkledove v. Astrue, 635 F.3d 784, 790 (5th Cir. 2011)
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A)). A claimant is the
“prevailing party” for purposes of the EAJA where
she obtains a “sentence four” judgment reversing
denial of benefits and requiring further proceedings before
the agency. See Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292,
300-02 (1993). Any attorneys' fees awarded under the EAJA
must be reasonable. See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b).
Here, Plaintiff is the prevailing party under the EAJA, the
Commissioner has not proved substantial justification, and no
special circumstances make an award unjust.
prevailing party, Plaintiff seeks an award of $4, 543.39 in
attorneys' fees for 23.9 hours expended by
Plaintiff's counsel at an hourly rate of $190.10 and
$740.00 in paralegal fees for 7.4 hours expended at an hourly
rate of $100.00, for an attorney fee award of $5, 283.39.
(ECF No. 23). Plaintiff also seeks reimbursement of $16.26 in
costs for a total award of $5, 299.65. (Id.).
Plaintiff's counsel supported the motion with a
declaration, an itemized statement detailing the hours
expended in the case, EAJA calculation tables, and cost
information. (See generally, ECF No. 23).
Court finds, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A), that
the appropriate hourly rate at which to award fees in this
case is $190.10 per hour. The Court further finds after a
review of the record that Plaintiff is entitled to
attorney's fees for 23.9 hours of service for an amount
of $4, 543.39.
counsel also claims fees for work paralegals performed in
2018, requesting an award of $740.00 for 7.4 hours expended
at a rate of $100 per hour. The EAJA allows fees for
paralegal services at prevailing market rates. Richlin
Sec. Service Co. v. Chertoff, 553 U.S. 571, 581 (2007).
Plaintiff has not supported his fee application with any
market rate information to support that a $100.00 hourly rate
for paralegal services is reasonable. Courts in this district
have previously applied an hourly rate of $95.00 for
paralegal services in social security cases. Ronda C. v.
Berryhill, No. 3:17-CV-2114-G-BH, 2019 WL 1793040, at *4
(N.D. Tex.), adopted by, No. 3:17-CV-2114-G (BH),
2019 WL 1790053 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 24, 2019); Suarez v.
Colvin, No. 3:13-CV-1459-P, 2015 WL 328248, at *1 (N.D.
Tex. Jan. 26, 2015); Harris v. Colvin, No.
3:11-CV-1089-M-BH, 2013 WL 2896880, at *5 (N.D. Tex. June 13,
2013). Thus, the Court finds a $95.00 hourly rate for
paralegal services is reasonable. The Court finds further
after a review of the record that Plaintiff is entitled to
fees for paralegal services in the amount of $703.00 for 7.5
hour expended in this case.
also seeks reimbursement for postage in effecting service of
process by certified mail in the amount of $16.26. The EAJA
authorizes reimbursement for costs and reasonable expenses.
28 U.S.C. §§ 2412(a) & 2412(d)(1)(A). Costs are
those specifically enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, which
include the “[f]ees of the clerk and marshal.”
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(i), the
Attorney General of the United States of America, the Social
Security Administration, and the United States Attorney for
the Northern District of Texas are to be served with process
by certified mail. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(i). Plaintiff served
Defendant by certified mail as required by Rule 4(i) and did
not use a private process server. (ECF No. 10). Thus, the
postage here is a fee of the marshal and is properly
reimbursable under section 1920.
requests that payment be directed to Plaintiff's counsel
but made payable to Plaintiff. In Astrue v. Ratliff,
560 U.S. 586, 593 (2010), the Supreme Court held that a fee
award under EAJA must be paid directly to the claimant who is
the prevailing party in the case. Accordingly, payment of
EAJA fees and costs shall be made payable to Plaintiff and
mailed “in care of” Plaintiff's attorney to
the attorney's office.
foregoing reasons and noting that the Motion is uncontested,
the Motion (ECF No. 22) is hereby GRANTED to
the extent provided above. It is therefore
ORDERED that Plaintiff be awarded
attorneys' fees in the amount of $4, 543.39, paralegal
fees in the amount of $703.00, and costs of $16.26, for a
total fee award of $5, 262.65. Payment of EAJA fees and costs
should be made ...