If a Social Security disability case is denied by an ALJ and the Appeals Council the next step is Federal Court. If you are successful in Federal Court you may be able to win EAJA fees. Below is the relevant part of EAJA.
- Authorizes an attorney to obtain reimbursement of expenses incurred (e.g., legal fees, expert witness fees, etc.) in the course of representing a litigant in a court action and certain administrative proceedings involving a government agency;
- Stipulates that reimbursement of legal fees and other expenses applies only with respect to proceedings in which the party prevails against the agency, and only if the court finds that the position of the government was not substantially justified; and
- Provides that when a representative received fees for the same work under both sections 206(b) and 1631(d)(2) of the Social Security Act and EAJA, the representative must refund to the claimant the amount of the smaller fee.
For an attorney to earn EAJA fees the claimant must be the prevailing party and the position of the government was not substantially justified. The claimant will be able to receive EAJA fees based on a number of factors including time spent in federal court, difficulty of the issue, the experience of the attorney, and awards in similar cases. In general, the EAJA calculation is a reasonable hourly rate multiplied by a reasonable amount of time.
If the Federal Court agrees that the claimant is disabled it can remand the case back to the Social Security Administration to decide the case with its instructions. The Court can also order benefits outright, but that is rare. There are two types of remands. A sentence 4 remand is considered a final judgment that ends the case. A sentence 6 remand occurs when the Federal Court remands the case back to the Social Security Administration and retains jurisdiction over the case.