Disability Digest December 2010

Inside This Issue

New Binder and Binder® office:
Bay Area staff is shaking Social Security system for clients

Hayward Staff photo

Our Hayward Staff: (left to right) Deltrina Johnson, Malti Prasad, Raymond Ugarte, Bruce Dickerson, Rajnesh Kumar, Kavita Kumari, Fei Lui, Rose Barcena, Omar Ortega, Jan Mahoney, James Pi, Taryn Joswig, Maria Guzman. Binder and Binder® recently opened a Regional Office in Northern California. America's Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates® L.L.C., works clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Call 1-800-66-BINDER to speak with an advocate.

Commercial Break

By: Dick Summer
Communications Director

I'm delighted to tell you that two new writers have joined the staff of the Binder and Binder® Disability Digest. You'll find articles by Christopher Pratt, and Rachel Fargainis in this issue. I think you'll enjoy their new and different approaches to explaining how we do the things we do, at Binder and Binder®. Both Rachel and Christopher bring us the warm, honest, caring attitudes that seem to be the trademarks of a Mid-west up-bringing. It is a pleasure to welcome them to our staff.

Social Security News

By: Charles Binder

Charles E. Binder Managing Partner

More questions and answers from Charles' soon to be published book:

1 - What's the legal definition of Social Security Disability?

A person is considered disabled if he has a physical and/or emotional condition that renders him unable to perform substantial gainful activity, considering his age, education and past work history. The condition must have been or be expected to last one year (or to result in death).

2 - What is the practical definition of disability?

A disability is any medical condition that prevents you from working on a regular full-time job for at least 12 months.

3 - I have just applied for Social Security Disability benefits. When can I expect my formal interview with Social Security?

There is no "face to face" at the initial application stage. Your first opportunity to explain in person to someone what's wrong with you is at the Administrative Law Judge hearing which is why it is the most crucial stage.

4 - I have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and been turned down. How long do I have to appeal?

Generally you have 60 days to appeal any denial of Social Security Disability benefits. You or your representative can appeal a denial the same way that you file an application by either doing it in person or by mail.

5 - How many stages are there in Social Security Disability (SSD)?

There are at least four. There is the initial application stage. You have 60 days to appeal after the initial denial. Most people are denied at the initial application. In many states, there is a reconsideration stage. Again, after that decision, you will have 60 days in which to appeal. The third stage is the most critical. It is the hearing stage. This is where you meet the Administrative Law Judge. If you are denied at a hearing, you have 60 days to appeal to the Appeals Council, though the Commissioner is trying to abolish that. If you lose at the Appeals Council, you have the right to file in federal court though generally that is extremely difficult and cannot be done successfully without an experienced advocate.

6 - I was denied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits recently. Should I appeal or just file again?

If you file again, you may wind up not getting as much benefits as if you appealed the decision. It is generally better to appeal rather than to re-file. There are some times, however, particularly after denial at the hearing that you may want to do both, especially if there is some new medical proof that makes your case stronger than before.

7 - What makes a case strong?

The best cases are those where the medical evidence is extremely strong. In particular, the strongest cases are those in which your doctor supplies a thorough narrative.

Next time, more important questions and answers from Charles' new book.

Bit of an Introduction

by Rachel Farganis

Rachel Farganis

Hi, all! I'm new to the Disability Digest, and since I'll be writing a lot of the articles, I'd like to tell you a bit about myself. My name is Rachel, and I was born and raised in the great state of Ohio. This past summer, my husband and I moved to North Carolina. Luckily for me, Binder and Binder® is a national company that has local offices in many states. Their office just happened to be in my neck of the woods. And I joined the staff as a writer. It has been an enlightening experience to say the least.

One of the world's most enlightened men, Albert Einstein, once said something to the tune of, "A sure sign of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." This theory once got me into a lot a trouble; my college track coach didn't want to hear me compare his workouts to insanity. But, the bottom line was we weren't improving. In fact, we weren't doing much of anything...well, except for the same things-day in and day out. If we wanted to get better, if we wanted to improve, we needed to change it up.

My track days are long gone now, but what's never left me was the thought that I won't get different results if I never do different things. Traveling new roads isn't always easy. Quite simply, the devil we know is more comfortable than the devil we don't know.

Now, in the short time I've been with Binder & Binder® it's clear to see that my fellow employees find their own grooves. But, at the same time, they're willing to try new approaches to their jobs on a daily basis. They're always trying to find what works best for our clients because no two people's needs are the same. And furthermore,, everybody's needs constantly change. What you need one week can be different from what you need the very next week. And it is Binder and Binder's® mission to "Do what we do better and nicer." Our caseworkers are constantly trying new things; they take new approaches to different clients because they know there isn't a script out there that fits everyone's needs. The same can be said of our writers and our advocates.

That's what makes this company great; that's what makes our employees great. We do different things to get the best results. Whether that means brainstorming new and better ways to explain the complicated Social Security bureaucracy to our clients or lending a supportive shoulder to cry on during the difficult times, we simply do not quit until we find a path that leads to success. We are constantly in the process of improving and finding new ways to help our clients win their cases.

Albert Einstein was a genius. Most of us don't have that kind of brainpower. But we're just as determined to find new ways to solve old problems as he was. Sometimes it just means going an extra mile...working a little harder. A little more carefully. A little more creatively. We can do that. And we do.

The Truth Comes Out: One Client's Experience with Binder and Binder®

by Rachel Farganis

The first thing Teresa M. from Michigan said to me when she answered the phone was, "You guys are just wonderful!" Now that's how I like to start a conversation!

Teresa had worked all of her life. In fact, she loved working-and she loved her job as a legal secretary. But, at a certain point, her disability made it nearly impossible for her to continue doing what she loved. Complications from multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and depression (amongst other ailments), resulted in her doctors letting her know she was unable to continue working.

The moment she saw one of our Binder and Binder® commercials, she called. Teresa knew from the get-go that she didn't want to deal with the paperwork; she let Binder and Binder® take the lead from the start. The whole process wasn't sunshine and rainbows; Teresa admitted, "At times I grew frustrated...but not with Binder and Binder®, with the Social Security Administration." She waited three years for a hearing-as a former legal secretary, she knew how long the process could be, but it was different when it happened to her.

At the peak of her frustration, Teresa wrote a letter to Carl Levin, a Senator from Michigan, to explain her situation. Within two weeks, she had a letter in the mail indicating her hearing had been scheduled. But, when Teresa's hearing arrived, she was nervous. Luckily, she had advocate Jennifer Rizk, from the Binder and Binder® office, on her side. Teresa was in good hands with Jennifer, and when she went before the Administrative Law Judge, she just poured her heart out. Teresa's disability was granted at her hearing, and she couldn't have been happier with the job Jennifer did-and the job Binder and Binder® did along the way.

If Teresa was ever in doubt about the status of her case, she would call-and she was always reassured. She even went so far as to say, "If you don't hear from your caseworker or Advocate on a regular basis, don't think they aren't working hard on your case. Because they always are."

Following her hearing, and armed with good news, Teresa put in a call to New York to speak with Charles Binder to commend him on his determination to "keep helping the little guys."

Teresa has a bit of advice to share with our clients: "Keep everything... all of the paperwork, make a copy; you need to be knowledgeable about everything that's going on with your case." The process is often long, and Teresa made sure she kept record of it all.

At the end of the day, Teresa still has multiple sclerosis and diabetes, amongst other things. She still has to deal with bad days. But, even so-she admits she feels better; she beat the system. As Teresa explained, "It's a good feeling. I was telling the truth; I am disabled. If I could be working, I would."

Well, Teresa, it's a good feeling for us too. And we think you're pretty wonderful as well!

Binder and Binder® Power Person: Jason A. Miller

By Christopher Pratt

Jason Miller photo

(Binder and Binder® Power Person, Jason A. Miller takes on Social Security for clients all across America.)

Jason A. Miller, an advocate in our Long Island City office, is this month's Binder and Binder® Power Person. "There's a misconception that if you apply for disability it's because you have a character flaw, like not working hard enough," says Miller.

This advocate fights that fiction. He plows against the grain, on behalf of clients struggling with Social Security. Mr. Miller listens brilliantly for details.

Miller starts with small things, which Social Security might not see. When he first meets a client, he asks, "Can you pronounce your last name for me?"

"When your last name is Miller it's easy to forget that there's more than one way to say a word," jokes Jason. Before a client with a back injury meets a judge, Jason says, "The hearing has been scheduled for 45 minutes." He asks, "Are you going to be able to sit that long?"

After being born in Brooklyn and graduating from high school on Long Island, New York, Jason traveled across America. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University, and then attended The University of Toledo College of Law in Northwest Ohio.

Some people in Ohio misunderstood his Long Islandese. "My accent threw a lot of people off," said Miller. He joked, "I learned another important lesson: speaking slowly and clearly."

Real people matter to his practice. The advocate says three things are needed to succeed: knowledge of the law, knowledge of the individual case, and hustle.

Jason's a lifelong New York Mets fan. He was born on a Monday in the early morning hours following a Mets win in Game 2 of the World Series. They beat the Oakland A's. NBC's Curt Gowdy described the game as "one of the longest and weirdest games in World Series history."

Jason owns a videotape of the game and recalls Gowdy's line verbatim. The team won because of an extra-inning single by 42-year-old Willie Mays. It was the Hall-of-Famer's final big league hit.

The Mets lost in seven games. Jason knows that fine detail. He says the gritty character of his National League team is instructive to life. "The Mets had to work hard to win their two championships," he says.

Jason knows the law cold. But he applies his knowledge with a warm heart. He routinely brings work home. He will also travel the distance for each client.

Early in his Binder and Binder® career, Jason represented clients in Texas and Louisiana. In one week, he drove 1,250 miles in his rental car. "It was probably a record for an advocate," he joked.

But all kidding aside, he enjoyed the travel. He liked meeting people. Jason later did similar work in California. He helped run the San Bernardino office for two years.

When not working, Jason enjoys reading everything, especially biography, history, and science fiction books. He's been a top-ranked reviewer on Amazon.com and has authored posts for the "Books on Baseball" Web site.

Jason and wife Lesley (a cable TV producer) live in Brooklyn. They are the proud parents of a six-month old daughter, Callie, who was also born on a Monday after a Mets' win.

Jason has scored a lot of victories. His persistence has paid off. So, for constantly plowing through Social Security on behalf of real people, and for his brilliant attention to details; Jason A. Miller is the Binder and Binder® Power Person of the month.

We Get Letters (And E-Mail)

When I received my Social Security denial letter, I immediately thought of you, because I've seen your TV commercials. For me, the decision was easy. I want the best representing me and my family... I am relieved knowing you are going to represent me... A.S.

Dear Binder and Binder®: I would like to thank you and all your staff for helping me receive SSD. You saved me so much time, aggravation and frustration. With the help of your office everything was done for me. Your whole staff was caring and great... J.D.

To Binder and Binder®, ... I have had two cases with S.S.A., and both times I have done very little, and B&B have taken care of everything. Thank you so much... S.D.

Debra Shumake photo

Our Office Caseworker Debra Shumake: holds onto a card from a grateful client. It read, "You're a lifesaver." Charles Binder said, "The highest compliment is when (they) clients recommend us to another person. To me, there is no higher compliment. That means we have done our job...Better and Nicer."

Hauppauge staff

Three members of our Hauppauge staff: (left to right) Regional Manager Brenda Ditta, Hearing Supervisor Christina Gargiulo and Deputy Manager Nicole Oakley smile near their office entrance. Ditta was hired more than 25 years ago to work in our Long Island office.

New York City staff

Our New York City Staff: (left to right) Nadine Hinds, Varsha Rambali, Roger Brown, Gina Lee, Jeannie Carror-Garris, Lori Lembeck, Joseph Gonzalez, Kirzis Lugo, Eugene Brooks and Erica Hernandez. America's Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates® L.L.C., has strategic office locations, which allow us to represent clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and all U.S. territories. New York City Office Manager Lori Lembeck is proud of our mission. "Do what you do better, and nicer."

Binder and Binder® Fun Quiz

All answers are in this newsletter


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