Disability Digest April 2012

Inside This Issue

A Word From Charles E. Binder

Charles E. Binder - Managing PartnerThere's bad news and good news. Bad news first. The Government is trying to cut back the number of people on Social Security Disability. They've always made winning tough, but in my entire thirty year career I've never seen them as nasty as they have been over the past few years. The good news is that we can and do deal with them successfully. Last year was the most successful year in our history. The bottom line is that we're going to continue to be America's Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates®, and we fully intend to win your case. But we're going to need more help from you in dealing with your medical providers. Because strong medical documentation is one of the two most important keys to winning your case.

The other most important key to winning your case is how we present your medicals to the judge. We always developed your case so that it met the most important concerns of the specific judge who heard your case. And then we prepared you for what to expect in that specific judge's manner and personality. But now, in keeping with the current economic and political uncertainties, there is even more government muscle working to slap down Social Security Disability applications.

For example, there is a new policy that denies us the right to know who the judge is in your case. There's no question that this new rule is designed to lead to more denials by leaving claimants less prepared. Which means we must ratchet up our preparation so both you and your Advocate are ready to deal with whatever questions any judge might ask, instead of concentrating on the kind of questions a specific judge might want answered. We must be prepared to present every aspect of your medical condition; even those that you may feel are not particularly significant. We must over-prepare by obtaining more detailed medical opinions by more medical professionals than ever before. This over-preparation can be expensive and time consuming, but it's necessary.

To make matters even more difficult, we are seeing an alarming increase in the number of favorable decisions that are being reviewed by the Appeals Council, which then orders that the case be re-decided after additional hearings are held. Naturally that turns up the pressure on the judges to produce denials in all but the most well documented of claims. It's a simple matter of duck and cover for the judges.

So here's my point: I know this is a difficult time in your life. But please keep in mind how much money and how many benefits will come to you, over a long period of time, when we win your case. Please picture yourself being able to pay your bills, and dealing with whatever medical or emotional problems that may develop. Remember respect. Self respect, and the respect of others. Because that's what is at stake here.

We need your active help in providing the documentation necessary to win your case, in a time when there is such governmental pressure to deny your claim. We may need you to hand serve our requests directly to your physicians when it's at all physically and emotionally possible for you to do so. We may even ask you to contact your representatives in Congress, and tell them of your concern about how your case is being handled by the Social Security Administration.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we are America's Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates®. And no matter how tough the Government makes it, with your help, we fully intend to win your case.

New Binder and Binder® Office Opens in Ohio

Columbus is not only the capital of Ohio, but also the largest city in the state. And, as the third largest city in the American Midwest, Columbus was the perfect choice for our newest office location. We are proud to tell you that our new Binder and Binder® regional office is up and running at 155 East Broad Street as of February 2012. We have assembled a championship team to help file your Social Security Disability claim carefully and professionally.

Social Security laws are some of the most complex ever written, and many lawyers don't even understand them. To make matters worse, the government makes the process difficult. Forms are complex and confusing, and it can take months or even years to get a SSD hearing.

But - like our advocates at other nationwide offices - the advocates at the Columbus, Ohio, offices of Binder & Binder® will handle your Social Security Disability claim for you, no matter where you are in the SSD process.

Everyone's experience with the Social Security Administration is different. Some people win their cases quickly, but most do not. No matter how long your case takes (or how quickly it goes) the advocates at Binder & Binder® ask you to remember one thing: We'll deal with the government. You have enough to worry about.

As a nationwide advocacy group, we have offices that handle Binder & Binder® representation in strategic locations all across the country, from New York, to California and everywhere in between. And we're happy to announce that one of these home offices is now near you in Columbus, Ohio.

What's New in Our World

by Rachel Farganis

New in Our WorldThe New Year has brought a lot of "new" things to our Binder and Binder® family in just a short amount of time. We've recently opened our newest office location in Columbus, Ohio. And plans for subsequent new office locations are not far behind!

The recent news of a new policy that denies us the right to know who the judge is in your case has presented new challenges for us. But, rather than letting the challenge bring us down, we're even more geared up to fight the battle for you. After all, this process has always been challenging, and we have continually prevailed. Binder and Binder® has remained America's Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates® for a reason.

In addition to our new office (and our new challenges), we've added a new family member as well! On January 30th, we welcomed Niko Farganis. As a proud mom, I've showered the Binder and Binder® office with countless pictures and visits from the little man. It only made sense for him to make a guest appearance here, too!

So far, 2012 has brought us our fair share of new things: a new office, new policies, and a new baby! We're looking forward to the rest of 2012.

Understanding Supplemental Security Income and Your Resources

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays monthly cash benefits to people who are age 65 or older, those who are blind or those who have a disability and who do not own much or have a lot of income. The standard of disability is the same as with Social Security Disability (SSD). However, to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, a financial need threshold must also be met. SSI kicks in for the disabled when they do not qualify for SSD or the amount of SSD they will receive puts them below the financial standard.

When evaluating whether or not you qualify for SSI, the Social Security Administration looks at your resources. Resources, for instance, can be items such as cash; bank accounts, stocks, and U.S. savings bonds; land; life insurance; personal property; and anything else you own which could be changed to cash and used for food or shelter. In order to qualify to receive SSI, in addition to meeting the disability requirements, your countable resources must not be worth more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. It is the total value of your resources that, when combined, are one of the factors that determine your eligibility for benefits.

Not all resources count for SSI, however. For instance, the Social Security Administration does not count the following: the home you live in and the land it is on; household goods and personal effects (for example, your wedding and engagement rings); burial spaces for you or your immediate family, as well as burial funds for you and your spouse, each valued at $1,500 or less; and one vehicle, regardless of value, if it is used for transportation for you or a member of your household-just to name a few.

One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of a future transfer of resources. Transferring a resource involves either giving it away or selling it. For example, an individual may, under their current circumstances, qualify for SSI benefits. However, a decision to transfer a resource may result in the ineligibility for SSI for up to 36 months. The length of time you would be ineligible for SSI is dependent upon the value of the resource that was transferred. Conversely, if the value of a resource that was transferred does not bring the total of your countable resources over the $2,000 limit for an individual or $3,000 limit for a couple, your eligibility would remain intact.

As always, we recognize that the circumstances are different for each of our clients, and we will do our best to make you aware of the process along the way. While we cannot change the Social Security Administrations requirements, we are always available to answer any questions our clients may have!

Preparing for a Hearing

Your Social Security Disability hearing is one of the most important moments in the entire disability process. As a client, it's the first time you are able to provide testimony in support of your claim. And while it may be one of the most important moments in the disability process, it can also be one of the most nerve-racking moments as well.

Our Advocates are trained to help you through this process. For one Binder & Binder® Advocate in particular, Mariam Sanni-Adigun from our Dallas, Texas office, preparation for a hearing is a very thorough process. As a former prosecutor, Mariam hates surprises. And, to avoid any such surprises, she makes sure to review each and every medical exhibit, page by page, taking detailed notes. Not only does she spend a lot of time preparing personally for each hearing, she spends a lot of time preparing the clients she represents. In addition to contacting clients in advance of their hearing, Mariam explains the process of the hearing to her clients. She runs them through a "mock hearing," or rather, poses the same questions to them prior to their hearing that she plans to ask at the hearing itself. This tactic, as Mariam says "puts clients at ease at the hearings." She also requests that her clients arrive 30 minutes prior to their scheduled hearing time, as it allows for additional review and last minute questions.

Our Advocates all have their own special hearing preparation techniques, but there is one common goal-and that is to ensure that our clients are as successful as possible when they finally reach their hearing!

We Get Letters & Emails...

I just wanted to say that I was surprised how fast my claim was approved. Patrice R. was my contact person and she is just wonderful. She kept me informed on the progress of my claim. If she was waiting for paperwork she would let me know and I would get her what she needed. I applied for SSD and was accepted within a year. I have talked to someone who had worked with you for their SSD and they complained it was taking so long so they fired Binder & Binder. I came to understand during the process, I had to help them with what they needed, that you needed to assist them with your own claim. It's not Binder & Binder that takes time...it's the SSD office that holds things up. My advice to anyone who hires Binder & Binder for assistance....stay informed, help with anything they need and if you're like myself your claim will be accepted within a short period of time....If you don't help them out with your claim, then you will have to deal with the time issue on acceptance....
KUDOS! To Patrice R.:...she is #1 in my book....
Sincerely, E.R. (Email)

I just wanted to send a note to express my thanks and appreciation for the successful closure of my SS Disability request. The most difficult part of the process was going to the office and sign the paperwork. I just sat back and let the good folks at Binder & Binder do their thing. It even took less time than I anticipated! Thanks again, for all your help. I'm very glad I chose Binder & Binder.
--S.McG. (Email)

I just wanted to say thanks for the representation. You have changed my life.
Three + years of fighting the system, loss of home, bankrupt, now things will change and the future looks brighter once more.

J.K. (Email)

We are existing clients, and just had our hearing on Monday Morning. And you guys won the case, hands down!

Randy, from the Seattle office, flew hundreds of miles to Spokane, to be there with me, and he was--like everyone we have dealt with at Binder & Binder--terrific. He was so prepared, that the entire hearing lasted about ten minutes, and it was clear that our nightmare was over.

We would like to offer our services if you should ever need new "Happy Client" statements. You guys fulfilled every promise that you made on TV, and we are still amazed at your speed, precision, and professionalism.

Thank you! That call to Binder & Binder was one of the best decisions we ever made.
D.H. (Email)

Power Person of the Month

Stacey CedenoThis month's Power Person of the Month is Stacey Cedeno, a New York native who has added more than her fair share to the Binder and Binder® team. As the oldest of five children, Stacey was raised by her hard working grandparents in Spanish Harlem, and was the first in her family to graduate from college-earning an Associate's degree in Business Administration and Marketing.

Our Power Person of the Month is quite the veteran around these parts. Stacey has been a part of the Binder and Binder® team for nearly 15 years, and has recently moved into her newest role as the manager of our Long Island City office.

Stacey, who began her tenure at Binder and Binder® as a caseworker prior to her move to LIC. She recounts one of the most memorable moments she's had: winning one of her first cases at the Reconsideration level her first year as a caseworker. As a thank you, the client came to the office to thank her personally...with a bouquet of flowers and chocolates!

Stacey is now responsible for an office of more than 75 staff members...with days full of organizing, reviewing, monitoring, and training to ensure all departments are performing quality work. But, she admits that finding the balance in handling personnel and different personalities in the office place isn't always a piece of cake...though she clearly handles the challenging moments with ease.

Don't be fooled; Stacey isn't all work and no play! When she's not busy managing the staff in our LIC office, she has a wonderful family to spend her time with-including three nieces and a nephew that she adores. And, to add to her fun-loving personality, Stacey admits that she loves music, and loves to dance.

Stacey has done various jobs and shared many experiences through her years at Binder and Binder® and has watched the company grow and change. The secret to her success? Well, according to Stacey, "Having compassion and empathy along with taking pride and comfort in the fact that your helping someone in need is the reason for my longevity here." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.


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