FLOWERS v. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION – July 5, 2011.

The SSA has many rules covering how attorneys are paid in Social Security Disability cases. This case outlines the rules regarding an attorney getting more than the $6,000 maximum outlined in the SSA rules regarding attorney’s fees.

Here, Flowers attorney asks that the court to authorize attorneys fees of $23,237.00, pursuant to the contingent-fee agreement. Filing 43. In calculating the requested fee, Flowers attorney starts with $29,237.00, an amount equal to 25 percent of Flowers $116,948.00 past-due benefits award.3 Filing 45-3 at CM/ECF p. 6. Flowers attorney then reduces $29,237.00 by $6,000, the amount the Commissioner withheld to pay him for his services at the administrative level under 42 U.S.C. § 406a.4 Filing 45-3 at CM/ECF p. 6.To generate a non-contingent fee of $23,237.00 for 35 hours of work, Flowers attorney would need to charge $663.91 per hour. However, when an attorney proceeds on a contingency basis, an attorney fee that might otherwise appear unreasonable is perfectly appropriate. See, e.g., Bear v. Astrue, 544 F.Supp.2d 881, 883 D. Neb. 2008 awarding $10,288.50 under section 406b for 29.4 hours of work; Watterson v. Astrue, No. 3:06-cv369-J-HTS, 2008 WL 783634 M.D. Fla. Mar. 21, 2008 awarding $28,767.10 under section 406b for 26.4 hours of work.

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