The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gerry, Chief Judge:
Plaintiff has filed an application for payment of attorney's
fees under section 2412(d) of the Equal Access To Justice Act
(EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d), based upon an action filed on her
behalf in 1983 which ultimately led to an award of Supplemental
Security Income (SSI) benefits by an administrative law judge
(ALJ) on March 7, 1990. Defendant opposes the award of fees
and, in the alternative, argues that the hourly rate sought is
I. Facts and Procedural History
This case has a long history. We draw the following factual
and procedural background from the court's Letter Opinion
(Op.) of July 13, 1989: "Plaintiff was 27 years of age at the
time of her initial administrative hearing [in 1982] and has
a high school education. She was last employed from July
through December of 1975 as an assembly line worker at Tyco
Corporation." Id. at 2.
Plaintiff originally filed an application for
[SSI benefits] . . . on April 5, 1982. Her claim
was disapproved initially and upon
reconsideration. A hearing before ALJ Paul H.
Teitler was held on August 18, 1982, at which the
plaintiff appeared pro se. The ALJ found that the
plaintiff was ineligible for SSI under 42 U.S.C. § 1381,
1381a, and 1382c. Plaintiff appealed, and on
January 19, 1983, the Appeals Council then remanded
the case to the ALJ for a de novo hearing.
Plaintiff then filed this action on May 26, 1983. On March
13, 1984, the court remanded for the purpose of locating
plaintiff's claims folder. A second hearing was held before
the ALJ on August 23, 1984,
at which plaintiff again appeared without
counsel. On January 29, 1985, the ALJ found that
DeWalt was not disabled as defined by the Social
Security Act at any time relevant to the
application. The decision became final when the
Appeals Council adopted the findings of the ALJ.
Id. Plaintiff then appealed to this court, but also filed
another application for benefits. We remanded the case for
Upon remand plaintiff was awarded SSI benefits by an ALJ on
March 7, 1990. The ALJ found that plaintiff was disabled as of
July 17, 1982, based on her having satisfied as of that date
the requirements of 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1,
§ 10.10. Section 10.10A addresses obesity and a history of pain
and limitation of motion in any weight bearing joint or spine,
associated with arthritis. Id.
a) Standard for Award of Fees Under EAJA
EAJA entitles plaintiff to an award of fees "unless the
court finds that the position of the United States was
substantially justified or that special circumstances make an
award unjust." 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). "The burden of
proving the statutory concept of substantial justification is
on the government." Edge v. Schweiker, 814 F.2d 125, 128 (3d
The Supreme Court settled the definition of "substantially
justified" in Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565, 108 S.Ct.
2541, 2550, 101 L.Ed.2d 490 (1988). The term means
"justified in substance or in the main" — that is,
justified to a degree that could satisfy a
reasonable person. That is no different from the
"reasonable basis both in law and fact" formulation
adopted by the Ninth Circuit and the vast majority
of other Courts of Appeals that have addressed this
Id. The court cited Citizens Council of Delaware County v.
Brinegar, 741 F.2d 584, 593 (3d Cir. 1984) as one of those
cases that adhere to ...