United States District Court, N.D. New York
OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON Attorney for Defendant
R. DOLSON, ESQ.
SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of the General Counsel
Attorneys for Defendant
T. CALLAHAN, ESQ.
DECISION AND ORDER
D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge
February 23, 2015, Plaintiff William Cole commenced suit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking a review of the
Commissioner of Social Security's decision to deny
Barbara Cole's application for Disability Insurance
Benefits. Dkt. No. 1. The case was remanded to the Commissioner,
and an Administrative Law Judge issued a partially favorable
decision. Dkt. No. 13-1 ¶¶ 11-12. Presently before
the Court is Plaintiff's motion for an award of
attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b).
See Dkt. No. 13. The Commissioner has not opposed
the motion. Dkt. No. 15 at 3.
April 26, 2012, Barbara Cole filed an application with the
Social Security Administration ("SSA") for
disability insurance benefits, which was denied. Dkt. No.
13-1 ¶ 6. Cole requested a hearing with an
administrative law judge ("ALJ"), and the ALJ
ultimately issued an unfavorable decision. Id.
¶ 7. After the Appeals Council denied Cole's request
for review of the ALJ's decision, William Cole timely
commenced an action in this Court seeking review of the final
agency decision. Id. ¶¶ 8, 10. On August
26, 2015, the parties entered into a consent order remanding
the case to the Commissioner for further administrative
action. Dkt. No. 11. On remand, the ALJ issued a partially
favorable decision and granted benefits from February 12,
2010, through September 12, 2014, the day that Barbara Cole
died. Dkt. No. 13-3 at 17.
Standard of Review
U.S.C. § 406(b)(1)(A) provides as follows:
Whenever a court renders a judgment favorable to a claimant
under this subchapter 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 to
which the claimant is entitled by reason of such judgment . .
the plaintiff's attorneys must obtain court approval of
their fees and have the court determine that their requested
fees are reasonable and should be awarded. See Wells v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 367, 372 (2d Cir. 1990); see also
Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 808-09 (2002)
(endorsing the 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) fee determination
approach established by the Second Circuit in Wells
stating "Section 406(b) calls for court review of such
arrangements as an independent check, to assure that they
yield reasonable results in particular cases"). In
determining the reasonableness of a fee the Supreme Court
stated "[c]ourts that approach fee determinations by
looking first to the contingent-fee agreement, then testing
it for ...