Crawford ( R.P.I. Shapiro) v. Astrue


Oral Argument
06/22/09 – 06/22/09

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Case Overview: In each of the three cases presented for review, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied a claim for benefits. Each claimant retained an attorney to challenge the administrative action in federal court. Each of the three claimants was represented by a different attorney: Brian C. Shapiro represented Clara Crawford;Young Cho represented Ruby Washington;and Denise Bourgeois Haley represented Daphne M. Trejo. All three attorneys were affiliated with the Lawrence D. Rohlfing (“Rohlfing”) law firm, which specializes in Social Security matters. In each case, the claimant signed a written contingent-fee agreement under which the attorney would be paid 25% of any past-due benefits awarded to the claimant. The district court remanded each case back to the SSA, which eventually awarded substantial past-due benefits to each claimant. The attorneys subsequently filed motions in the district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §406(b) requesting fees of less than the 25% of past-due benefits for which their attorney-client fee agreements provided. In each case, the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) declined to assert a position on the reasonableness of the fees requested by the attorneys. None of the claimants objected to the requested fees. Nevertheless, the district court in each case awarded significantly lower fees than the attorneys sought.

Proceedings Overview: The Court reviewed a district court's award of attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §406(b) for abuse of discretion.

Outcome: The Court vacated the district court’s decision and remanded .


Recording Disclaimer: This proceeding was recorded in full.

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