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Talmadge v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 27, 2015

ASHLEY L. TALMADGE, o/b/o A.M.L., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

OLINSKY LAW GROUP HOWARD D. OLINSKY, ESQ., Syracuse, New York, Counsel for Plaintiff.

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF REGIONAL GENERAL COUNSEL ANDREEA L. LECHLEITNER, ESQ., New York, New York, Counsel for Defendant.

DECISION and ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently before the Court, in this social security action filed by Ashley L. Talmadge, on behalf of A.M.L. ("Plaintiff"), against the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "the Commissioner") is a motion by Plaintiff for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to Section 206(b)(1) of the Social Security Act. (Dkt. No. 17). For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

On September 23, 2013, Plaintiff commenced an action in this Court seeking a reversal or remand of the Commissioner's denial of her claim for Supplemental Security Income on behalf of A.M.L. (Dkt. No. 1.) On December 3, 2013, with consent of the parties, Magistrate Judge Andrew T. Baxter ordered this case remanded to the Defendant and judgment was entered, accordingly.

On January 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for attorney's fees and costs of $1491.26 pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 24 U.S.C. ยง 2412 ("EAJA"). ( See generally Dkt. No. 14.) Upon consent of Defendant, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion. (Dkt. Nos. 15, 16.)

On August 20, 2014, the ALJ issued a fully favorable decision finding A.M.L. disabled as of March 29, 2010. (Dkt. No. 17-2.) The retroactive benefits awarded to A.M.L. totaled $38, 037.00. (Id. ) The Commissioner withheld $9, 509.25 from the retroactive benefits for attorney fees. On April 21, 2015, Plaintiff, by her attorney, Howard D. Olinsky, filed the current motion seeking an award of attorney's fees pursuant to Section 206(b)(1) of the Social Security Act. (See generally Dkt. No. 17.)

B. Parties' Briefing on the Motion

In support of her motion, Plaintiff asserts that she is entitled to attorney's fees in the amount of $3, 509.25 pursuant to Section 206(b)(1) of the Social Security Act[1] and the contingency fee agreement between Plaintiff and her attorney. (Dkt. No. 17.) Plaintiff argues that the fee is reasonable due to Attorney Olinsky's extensive experience and efficiency and that the amount does not represent a windfall to Attorney Olinsky because Plaintiff will recover the EAJA award amount of $1491.26. (Dkt. No. 17-1 at 1-2 [Mem. of Law].). Finally, by declaration, Attorney Olinsky explains that the delay in filing the current motion occurred due to errors by the Commissioner in calculating the proper amount to be set aside for attorney's fees. (Dkt. No. 17-3 [Decl. of Howard D. Olinsky, Apr. 20, 2015].)

Defendant does not contest the reasonableness or the timeliness of the requested award, but notes that the statute requires that the Court independently review the requested fee and adjust it if necessary. (Dkt. No. 18 [Def.'s Letter Br.].)

II. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD

Section 206(b)(1) of the Social Security Act ...


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