United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
DEBORAH A. PEREZ on behalf of PETER M. VELEZ, deceased, Claimant,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Respondent.
Jeffrey T. Gilbert, United Stales Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Claimant's Motion for
Attorney's Fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act
("Motion") [ECF No. 28]. On August 4, 2016, Deborah
A. Perez, on behalf of her deceased brother Peter M. Velez
("Claimant"), filed a complaint for judicial review
of an administrative decision denying his applications for
Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security
Income. Complaint, [ECF No. 1]. On August 29, 2017, the Court
issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order reversing the decision
of Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security
("the Commissioner"), under sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) and remanding this case to the Social
Security Administration for further proceedings. Memorandum
Opinion and Order, [ECF No. 26]. On the same day, the Court
entered judgment in Claimant's favor. Judgment, [ECF No,
27]. In the Motion now before the Court, Claimant seeks an
award of attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to
Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, in the
amount of $10, 167.81, Claimant's EAJA Reply, [ECF No.
33], at 2.
EAJA provides that a court shall award reasonable
attorneys' fees and other expenses to a "prevailing
party" in a civil action against the United States. 28
U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1); see United States v. Hallmark
Const. Co., 200 F.3d 1076, 1078-79 (7th Cir. 2000)
(setting forth the elements of § 2412(d)(1)). A party
seeking an award of fees and expenses must show "(1) he
was a prevailing party; (2) the government's position was
not substantially justified; (3) there are no special
circumstances that would make an award unjust; and (4) the
application for fees is timely filed with the district
court." Olvey v. Colvin, 2015 WL 5672622, at *1
(S.D. Ind. Sept. 25, 2015). In this case, there is no dispute
that Claimant is entitled to recoup some amount in
attorneys' fees. The parties only disagree about whether
Claimant's requested total of $10, 167.81 is unreasonably
Commissioner first argues that the roughly 50 hours of
attorney time expended by Claimant's counsel is excessive
and unreasonable because this is a routine social security
case. To determine whether a claimant's hours spent on
the case were reasonable, a court considers factors such as
the complexity of the case, the number and type of issues
raised, and the size of the administrative record.
English v. Colvin, 2015 WL 5227854, at *4 (S.D. Ind.
Sept 8, 2015). Even when assessing the reasonableness of the
hours expended, the "court 'is not in the business
of divining why a particular attorney reads or writes at a
certain rate of speed in one case and a different rate in
another.'" Id. at *5 (quoting Delgado
v. Astrue, 2012 WL 6727333, at *3 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 28,
2012)). "The standard range for hours worked on Social
Security litigation in the Seventh Circuit is 40-60
hours." Bohannon v. Colvin, 2017 WL 192334, at
*2 (N.D. Ind. Jan. 18, 2017); see also Coleman v.
Colvin, 2016 WL 6563485, at *3 (S.D. Ill. Nov. 4, 2016)
(citing another case for the proposition that "the
'permissible range'" is '"generally
speaking' 40 to 60 hours") (quoting Schulten v.
Aslrue, 2010 WL 2135474, at *6 (N.D. Ill. May 28,
2010)); Witt v. Colvin, 2016 WL 3049568, at *2 (N.D,
Ind. May 31, 2016) (citing another case for the same
proposition); Trump v. Colvin, 2015 WL 970111, at *4
(N.D. Ill. Mar. 2, 2015) (same).
Commissioner is right that there is nothing out of the
ordinary about this case. The administrative record was 459
pages. Administrative Record, [ECF No. 5-1]. The substantive
portions of Claimant's opening brief filled 15 pages and
covered three arguments in support of reversal.
Claimant's Opening Brief, [ECF No. 12]. Claimant's
reply brief was 11 pages long and directly responded to
arguments raised by the Commissioner in her response brief
rather than merely regurgitating the arguments she made in
her opening brief. Claimant's Reply, [ECF No 25], The
Court does not see why this matter should have demanded more
or less work by Claimant's attorneys than the normal
social security case. The typicality of this case, however,
does not undercut Claimant's fee request and, instead,
supports it. After all, the attorney time underlying
Claimant's fee application falls right in the middle of
the standard range cited by other courts in this Circuit.
Therefore, the Court rejects the Commissioner's
contention that Claimant's attorneys spent an
unreasonable number of hours working on this case.
Commissioner also argues that Claimant's attorneys'
hourly rate of $196.31 is too high-by roughly $10-because
Claimant calculated the rate using the Consumer Price
Index-All Urban Consumers (“CPI-U") rather than a
Chicago-specific CPI. Early last year, in Cummings v.
Berryhill, this Court addressed the same issue and
concluded that use of the CPI-U was appropriate. 2017 WL
926766, at *2-3 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 8, 2017). The Commissioner
has not cited authority that post-dates Cummings or
offered new arguments that were not considered in
Cummings. Therefore, the Court remains unconvinced
that using a regional CPI is the better approach.
of these reasons, Claimant's Motion for Attorney's
Fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act [ECF No. 28] is
 On January 23, 2017, Nancy A. Benyhill
became Acting Commissioner of Social Security. Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25, Berryhill is
automatically substituted as the Defendant in this case, No
further action is necessary to continue this suit by reason
of the last sentence of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
 In her initial Motion, Claimant sought
$10, 031, 34. Claimant's Motion, [ECF No. 28], at 7. In
her reply brief, Claimant increased the amount sought by
$136.47 to account for the work ...