United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiff Dawn Pettit
Payne's motion for attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. §
406(b), seeking attorney's fee in the total amount of
$26, 323.12, which Plaintiff contends represents 25% of the
back benefits awarded to Plaintiff. (ECF No. 30). In her fee
petition, Plaintiff indicated that $17, 548.75 had been
withheld for attorney's fees based on the award of $70,
195.00 in past-due benefits for Plaintiff; however, Plaintiff
recognized that past-due benefits had not yet been calculated
for her beneficiaries. (ECF No. 30-1 at 1-2). Plaintiff
estimated that $8, 774.37 would be withheld for
attorney's fees from the past-due benefits eventually
awarded to her beneficiaries. Id. at 2.
Commissioner filed an objection, moving that the court hold
Plaintiff's fee petition in abeyance until the amount of
past-due benefits could be computed for Plaintiff's
beneficiaries. (ECF Nos. 31, 32). The Plaintiff did not
oppose the abeyance motion. Accordingly, the court granted
the Commissioner's motion and directed the parties to
provide a status report within sixty days. (ECF No. 33). On
August 23, 2019, the Commissioner withdrew its objection to
Plaintiff's petition for attorney's fees. (ECF No.
36). The Commissioner withheld a total of $6, 000 from the
award of past-due benefits to Plaintiff's beneficiaries
rather than the $8, 774.37 estimated by Plaintiff. (ECF 36-1
at 3, 9). Accordingly, the Commissioner requested that the
court approve payment of attorney's fees in the amount of
$23, 548.75. (ECF No. 36 at 2). Plaintiff has not contested
to Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 808 (2002),
in reviewing a request for attorney's fees under §
406(b), a court must look first to the contingent fee
agreement and assess its reasonableness. A reduction in the
contingent fee may be appropriate when (1) the fee is out of
line with the character of the representation and the results
achieved; (2) counsel's delay caused past-due benefits to
accumulate during the pendency of the case in court, or (3)
past-due benefits are large in comparison to the amount of
time counsel spent on the case. Id.
upon a review of the petition and these factors, the court
finds that an award of $23, 548.75 is reasonable. Pursuant to
a contingency fee agreement, Plaintiff agreed to pay counsel
twenty-five percent (25%) of any past-due benefits. (ECF No.
30-2 at 2). Plaintiff was awarded back benefits, and 25% of
the award was withheld for attorney's fees, or $23,
548.75. (ECF Nos. 30-4 at 3; 36-1 at 3, 9). In compliance
with 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1)(A), counsel's requested
fee does not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of these
past-due benefits. Furthermore, the requested attorney's
fee is reasonable given that counsel expended 27.25 hours
working on this matter at the court level. (ECF No. 30-3).
See Wrenn v. Astrue, 525 F.3d 931, 937 (10th Cir.
2008) (noting that under § 406(b) the court makes fee
awards only for work done before the court). Additionally,
Plaintiff's counsel achieved a successful result without
any unreasonable delay. In light of counsel's specialized
skill in social security disability cases, the attorney's
fee award does not amount to a windfall. Cf. Brown v.
Barnhart, 270 F.Supp.2d 769, 772-73 (W.D. Va. 2003).
based on the foregoing, Plaintiff's motion for
attorney's fees (ECF No. 30) is granted, and Plaintiff is
awarded a total of $23, 548.75 in attorney's
IS SO ORDERED.
 On June 17, 2019, Andrew M. Saul
became the Commissioner of Social Security. Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d), he is automatically substituted for
Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill who was the Acting Commissioner
of Social Security when this action was filed.
 “Fee awards may be made under
both [EAJA and § 406(b)], but the claimant's
attorney must refund to the claimant the amount of the
smaller fee [, ] . . . up to the point the claimant receives
100 percent of the past-due benefits.” Gisbrecht v.
Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 796 (2002) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). Plaintiff was previously awarded
$4, 136.56 in attorney's fees under the EAJA. (ECF No.
29). Accordingly, Plaintiff's counsel is to refund to the