United States District Court, W.D. New York
TANESHIA Y. CHILES, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL,  Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
has filed a Motion for Attorney's Fees, seeking the
amount of $10, 324.75, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b).
Docket No. 18. Defendant has filed a response, indicating
that he does not oppose Plaintiff's request. Docket No.
21. The matter is now fully submitted and ready for decision.
Docket No. 23. For the reasons discussed below,
Plaintiff's motion is granted.
23, 2017, this Court reversed the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”), and remanded the matter for further
proceedings. See Docket No. 15. On August 31, 2017,
the Court signed a stipulation entered into by the parties,
whereby Plaintiff was awarded $6, 530.00 pursuant to the
Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412, in full satisfaction of her claim pursuant to
the EAJA, for her attorney's services performed in
connection with this action. Docket No. 17.
on July 3, 2019, Plaintiff received a Notice of Award from
the Social Security Administration indicating that she was
being awarded $55, 699.00 in past due SSI benefits. Docket
Nos. 18-2 at ¶ 10 & 18-4.
to the fee agreement signed by Plaintiff, her attorney is
entitled to 25 percent of her past due benefits. Docket No.
18-2 at ¶ 6. Based on the above-referenced award of
benefits, the amount due to Plaintiff's attorney pursuant
to the fee agreement would be $13, 924.75. See Id.
at ¶ 19. However, Plaintiff's attorney has requested
a fee of only $10, 325.75. Id. at ¶ 2.
Plaintiff's attorney has already received the sum of $6,
540.00, pursuant to the above-mentioned EAJA application and
stipulation, and he states that he will refund this fee to
Plaintiff once the instant request is granted. Id.
at ¶ 18. Plaintiff's attorney has submitted the
award notice (Docket No. 18-4), the fee agreement (Docket No.
18-3), and his time records to date (Docket Nos. 18-5 &
42, Section 406(b) 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[.]
42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1)(A).
a contingent fee has been agreed to by the parties, the
district court must determine whether the fee is reasonable[,
]” “giv[ing] due deference to the intent of the
parties” while “not blindly approv[ing] every fee
request made pursuant to a contingent agreement.”
Wells v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 367, 372 (2d Cir. 1990).
Mathematical calculations are not required, but the district
court should determine whether the contingency percentage is
within the 25 percent cap. Id. In addition, it
should consider “whether there has been fraud or
overreaching in making the agreement” and
“whether the requested amount is so large as to be a
windfall to the attorney.” Id. (citations
based on the total award of benefits ($55, 699.00), the
amount due to Plaintiff's attorney pursuant to the fee
agreement would be $13, 924.75. Plaintiff's attorney has
requested a reduced fee of $10, 324.75, which represents
18.53% of the total past-due benefits awarded. See
Docket No. 18-2 at 4. Therefore, the revised contingency
percentage is less than the 25 percent cap authorized by
that Plaintiff's attorney has requested a reduced fee
amount, the Court concludes that there is no evidence of
fraud or overreaching. The Court also finds that the amount
requested does not appear to be so large as to be a windfall
to the attorney. See Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S.
789, 808 (2002); see also Docket No. 18-7.
Plaintiff's counsel began working on Plaintiff's case
in May 2013, after the administrative law judge denied her
claim for benefits. See Docket No. 18-2 at ¶ 7.
He has spent 36.1 hours preparing Plaintiff's case before
the federal district court, see Docket No. 18-7,
which yields an hourly fee of $286 (see ...