When Social Security issues a final administrative decision denying disability benefits, a claimant may bring a civil action in United States District Court to appeal from the decision. If the claimant prevails in federal court and the court determines that Social Security's position wasn't "substantially justified" the court can order the Social Security Administration to pay attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). As you can see below, Social Security's EAJA payments have been escalating rapidly in recent years.
|Fiscal Year||Total Payments|
I think there are at least three factors causing this. Social Security's Administrative Law Judges are turning down more claimants than in the past. Social Security is more willing to defend weak denial decisions than in the past. The courts became less conservative as a result of President Obama's appointments.