TN 1 (05-86)

GN 03990.020 Informing Claimants and Attorneys About the Equal Access to Justice Act

A. SSA Adjudications

Social Security claims below the court level ordinarily do not meet the EAJA's definition of “adversary adjudication,” and thus are not subject to the provisions of the act. However, if an EAJA application is received for a Social Security claim adjudicated below the court level, see GN 03990.030.

B. Inquiries Concerning Specific Provisions of the EAJA

The following information is provided to aid in responding to inquiries:

  1. 1. 

    In litigated Social Security claims the claimant must be the prevailing party and must meet all financial conditions of eligibility (e.g., net worth of not more than $2 million) in order to apply for reimbursement of attorney fees and other expenses under the EAJA.

  2. 2. 

    A petition (i.e., application) for reimbursement of expenses under the EAJA must be submitted within 30 days of the final judgment, must include an itemized statement of expenses, and must indicate that the SSA was not substantially justified in its position.

  3. 3. 

    The court will set the amount of reimbursement for expenses incurred by the claimant before the court and will order SSA to pay such amount, unless the court finds that SSA's position was substantially justified or that special circumstances would make an award unjust.

  4. 4. 

    Where a court has ordered an award under the EAJA to a claimant, SSA will make payment directly to the claimant (not to the attorney).

  5. 5. 

    If an attorney receives fees for the same work under both the Social Security Act and the EAJA, he/she must return the smaller of the two fees to the claimant.

Any inquiry which deals specifically with a payment made or ordered to be made under the provisions of the EAJA (e.g., delay or nonreceipt of a payment), should be referred to Office of Finance, Division of Administrative Payments, at this website .

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GN 03990.020 - Informing Claimants and Attorneys About the Equal Access to Justice Act - 03/31/2009
Batch run: 11/02/2017