Man who sued after being denied disability insurance benefits gets attorney’s fees


The federal court has awarded attorney’s fees to a man who sued Social Security for allegedly denying him disability insurance benefits.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy ordered Friday that Matthew John Seman Fejeran be awarded $7,250 in attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, and $400 in costs.

Kennedy gave the order after the lawyers for Fejeran and SS Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill agreed to a settlement of Fejeran’s request for attorney’s fees and court cost reimbursement.

The amount represents compensation for all legal services rendered on behalf of Fejeran by his lawyers, Pamela Brown-Blackburn and Kark E. Osterhout, in connection with Fejeran’s lawsuit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office served as counsel for Berryhill.

The parties said their stipulation settles Fejeran’s request for attorney fees and is not an admission of liability on the part of Berryhill.

The payment of the attorney’s fees shall constitute a complete release from and bar to any and claims Fejeran may have relating to attorney fees in connection with his court action.

Kennedy further ordered that if, after receiving the court’s EAJA fees order, the SS commissioner determines that Fejeran does not owe a debt that is subject to offset under the Treasury Offset Program, the fees will be made payable to Fejeran’s attorney.

However, Kennedy said, if there is a debt owed under the Treasury Offset Program, the remaining EAJA fees, after offset, will be paid by a check made out to Fejeran but delivered to his attorney.

The parties agreed that under the statute, EAJA fees awarded by the court belong to Fejeran and are subject to offset under the Treasury Offset Program.

The parties said the court should therefore order the EAJA fees to his/her attorney.

In his lawsuit, Fejeran asked the court to reverse the SS commissioner’s denial of his claim.

Blackburn said Fejeran has exhausted administrative remedies and that the court has jurisdiction for judicial review.

Blackburn said then-SS commissioner Carolyn Colvin denied Fejeran’s claim for disability insurance benefits as it was her determination that plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act.

Blackburn said the denial is not supported by the weight of the evidence, plaintiff’s credibility, and medical opinions of his doctors.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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