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Knifton v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

June 25, 2014

STEPHEN J. KNIFTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Robyn M. Rebers, Robyn M. Rebers LLC, Wilsonville, OR, Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, Ronald K. Silver, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, David Morado, Regional Chief Counsel, Region X, Seattle, Carol A. Hoch, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

ORDER FOR EAJA FEES

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

In this case, the plaintiff Stephen J. Knifton sought judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying his application for Supplemental Security Income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. The administrative record was a very short 276 pages. Knifton filed a sixteen-page opening brief, raising two assertions of error by the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The brief apparently generated negotiations between the parties, who subsequently filed a stipulated motion for sentence four remand, addressing all of Knifton's concerns regarding the ALJ's decision. I granted the motion, and remanded the case.

The parties have filed a stipulated motion requesting an award of $3, 048.43 in fees for Knifton's attorney Robyn M. Rebers, pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, subject to any offset as described in Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, 130 S.Ct. 2521, 177 L.Ed.2d 91 (2010). Ms. Rebers has submitted time records indicating she expended a total of 16.3 hours on this case, which I note is fewer than the twenty-to-forty-hour range Judge Mosman found to be a "reasonable amount of time to spend on a social security case that does not present particular difficulty." Harden v. Comm'r, 497 F.Supp.2d 1214, 1215 (D. Or. 2007) (noting "some consensus among the district courts" on this point; citing cases).

Adjusting the EAJA statutory fee of $125 per hour using the Ninth Circuit's formula for cost-of-living adjustments, see Nadarajah v. Holder, 569 F.3d 906, 918 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Thangaraja v. Gonzales, 428 F.3d 870, 876-77 (9th Cir. 2005)); Jones v. Espy, 10 F.3d 690, 692-93 (9th Cir. 1993); the EAJA-adjusted hourly rate for 2013 is $187.02, and for May 2014 is $188.04. Multiplying counsel's hours for the respective years results in attorney fees of $261.83 for 2013 (1.40 × $187.02), and $2, 801.80 for 2014 (14.9 × $188.04), for a total of $3, 063.63 for both years (i.e., $15.20 less than the amount to which the parties have stipulated).

I find that the stipulated fee of $3, 048.43 is reasonable under the circumstances, and grant the parties' motion. Knifton is awarded the sum of $3, 048.43 in attorney's fees under the EAJA. If Knifton's EAJA fees are not subject to any offset allowed under the Department of the Treasury's Offset Program pursuant to Ratliff, then the check for EAJA fees shall be made payable to Knifton's attorney Robyn M. Rebers, based on Knifton's assignment of such fees to his attorney. See Dkt. #19-1, p. 2. Any check for EAJA fees shall be mailed directly to Knifton's attorney Robyn Rebers at P.O. Box 3530, Wilsonville, Oregon 97070.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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