benefits, has received the relief which she sought in her action and is the prevailing party. Furthermore, based on the record before it, the Court finds that the position of the United States is not substantially justified. Accordingly, plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees and Costs must be granted.
a. The plaintiff has succeeded on the central issue in her underlying action and has received the relief she requested. Therefore, she is a prevailing party.
The threshold determination that the Court must make is whether the plaintiff was the "prevailing party" in this action. While the EAJA does not define the term "prevailing party", the courts have construed its meaning on many occasions. The plaintiff is considered a prevailing party if she succeeded on a significant issue in the case and received some of the relief she requested. E.g. Massachusetts Fair Share v. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, 249 U.S. App. D.C. 400, 776 F.2d 1066, 1067 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983)), Martin v. Heckler, 773 F.2d 1145, 1149 (11th Cir. 1985), see also Austin v. Department of Commerce, 742 F.2d 1417, 1419 (Fed. Cir. 1984). In cases involving claims under the Social Security Act, the plaintiff prevails where it has been determined that she is entitled to benefits. See McGill, 712 F.2d at 32. Here plaintiff clearly has prevailed on the merits of her claim since the Secretary has decided that she is entitled to receive DIB and SSI benefits which she had been denied previously.
b. The Government's position in this litigation is not substantially justified. Therefore plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees and Costs must be granted.
Once the plaintiff has established that she was the prevailing party, the government has the burden of proving that its "position" was "substantially justified" in order to avoid liability for attorney's fees. Massachusetts Fair Share, 776 F.2d at 1068; Nichols v. Pierce, 239 U.S. App. D.C. 146, 740 F.2d 1249, 1259 (D.C. Cir. 1984); Spencer v. NLRB, 229 U.S. App. D.C. 225, 712 F.2d 539, 557 (D.C. Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 936, 80 L. Ed. 2d 457, 104 S. Ct. 1908 (1984) (citing H.R. Rep. No. 1418, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 10-11, reprinted in, 1980 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 4984, 4989); NAACP v. Donovan, 554 F. Supp. 715, 717 (D.D.C. 1982). Prior to the reenactment and amendment of the EAJA on August 5, 1985, Equal Access to Justice Act, Extension and Amendment, Pub. L. No. 99-80, 99 Stat. 183 (1985), the term, "position of the United States" was not defined by the Act. See Spencer, 712 F.2d at 547. The Court of Appeals for this Circuit interpreted "the position of the United States" to mean the posture that the government adopted in litigation before the Court. See Spencer, 712 F.2d at 548, 556.
However, under the reenactment, Section 2412(d)(2)(D) of the EAJA states that the "position of the United States" "means, in addition to the government's position in the civil action, the action or failure to act by the agency upon which the suit is based." 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(D). Thus, it appears from the definition that the "position of the United States" includes both its litigation position before the Court and its position in the underlying agency action.
The underlying agency action which led to the plaintiff's filing her complaint was the Secretary of Health and Human Services' administrative decision denying plaintiff's claims for benefits. The Court subsequently found that the Secretary's decision was not supported by substantial evidence. See Court's Order of June 12, 1985 at 5. According to the legislative history of the 1985 EAJA amendments, such a finding, in most cases, eliminates any possibility that the government's position is substantially justified:
Agency action found to be arbitrary and capricious or unsupported by substantial evidence is virtually certain not to have been substantially justified under the Act. Only the most extraordinary special circumstances could permit such an action to be found to be substantially justified under the Act.