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Costa v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
690 F.3d 1132 (2012)
Shane Costa (plaintiff) was awarded past-due benefits after successfully seeking judicial review of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration’s (defendant) denial of his application for disability insurance benefits. Costa sought reasonable attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), alleging that the commissioner’s litigation position was not substantially justified because, as the district court found, the commissioner improperly disregarded Costa’s treating psychologist’s opinions regarding the severity of Costa’s mental impairments. The commissioner did not defend against the claim that his litigation position was substantially justified; however, he argued that Costa’s attorney’s fees were unreasonable. Costa’s attorney requested compensation for 60.5 hours, which he alleged to have spent on Costa’s case. The district court found the request excessive and awarded fees for only 41.1 hours, citing a district-wide consensus that 20–40 hours is a reasonable amount of time to spend on routine Social Security cases that present no particular difficulty. The district magistrate awarded Costa fees in accordance with the EAJA in an amount around $3,000 less than that requested. Costa appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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