Sprinkle v. Colvin, No. 13-3654 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Sprinkle applied for supplemental social security income. After exhausting administrative remedies, Sprinkle sought judicial review of a final decision that he was not disabled. The district court held that the agency failed to properly evaluate evidence of Sprinkle’s disability and reversed. Sprinkle sought attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act. While the EAJA contains a presumptive rate cap of $125 an hour, courts may award enhanced fees if justified because of an increase in the cost of living. The court found that Sprinkle was entitled to fees, but rejected his request for a cost-of-living enhancement. The Seventh Circuit vacated. An EAJA claimant seeking an adjustment need not offer proof of the effects of inflation on the particular attorney’s practice or proof that no competent attorney could be found for less than the requested rate. The claimant may rely on a readily available measure of inflation such as the Consumer Price Index, as well as proof that the requested rate does not exceed the prevailing market rate in the community for similar services by lawyers of comparable skill and experience. An affidavit from a single attorney testifying to the prevailing market rate may suffice to meet that burden.