Disability Digest December 2012-2

Inside This Issue

What's New in Our World

by Rachel Farganis

If you're reading this, it means 2012 has closed its doors, and 2013 is off to a quick start. So, what's new in our world?

Well, if you've visited our blog recently, you might have read some of the recent posts about different cases we've had over the years. Some of our clients look similar on paper...after all, a lot of clients we see suffer from similar disabilities. And a lot of our hearings result in similar outcomes...but, not all of them.

The ones that always hit home for me are the clients with "invisible" disabilities. A client with a bad back, unable to work from the pain, with injuries that are visible on x-rays and MRIs? That's fairly common. But, we often get clients whose disabilities can't be seen by machines, and often can't even truly be diagnosed. I've suffered for years with an undiagnosable autoimmune disorder. I have symptoms lots of symptoms (and lots of doctors) ...and, of course, a handful surgery scars to show for it all...but, no diagnosis. I'm able to muddle through my days-some much better than others, but there may come a time in my life when I'm not able to, and then what? Will anyone believe me without a diagnosis or an expensive scan to prove what I'm saying is true? That's a bridge I'll cross if and when I ever have to, but until then-if nothing else, it helps me understand our clients that much better.

In one blog recently, we talked about a client that came to us, suffering from a rare disorder. This particular disorder didn't have any tests to or scans that would result in a diagnosis. As a result of the rare disorder, the client suffered from episodes of severe sickness (think of a severe case of the stomach flu), lasting for 2 to 3 days at a time. When he wasn't plagued by days of constant sickness, he suffered from intermittent bouts every week. As you can imagine, he wasn't able to continue working.

Unfortunately, this client's disorder, like many other impairments, was not obvious. In this case, our client had lots of symptoms and lots of hospital stays for treatment...but there wasn't a specific test to prove his diagnosis. Even though he delivered a strong testimony at his hearing, he didn't have an "official" diagnosis and the Social Security Administration refused to find him disabled at first. Obviously, we didn't give up...his decision was appealed, and, in the end, he received his benefits.

It's hard, especially on a personal level, to see a client with an "invisible" or not-so-obvious impairment turned down for benefits because there isn't the same kind of "proof" that there is for other disabilities. We plan to continue to highlight our clients and their cases, so check back in on our blog often.

Our job isn't always easy, but it's worth it.

Max Ortega wears many hats, one of them is as an advocate (read about the others in his Power Person article in this Newsletter). All of these hats? Well, it means Max has a lot on his plate-but he handles it so well. He recently shared an experience with the rest us and we'd like to share it with you.

Max was scheduled to represent a client who was preparing to go to his disability hearing. In order to prepare for the upcoming hearing, he grabbed the client's file to begin reviewing the case. As soon as he looked at the file, he was overwhelmed by the amount of medical records he had to review -at least a foot high, he recounted. Surprisingly, stacks of medical records with pages totaling up in the thousands...well, it's not uncommon around these parts. But, it is daunting. With so much information, we don't want to miss a thing. Max knew there was going to be a lot of time spent reviewing this client's file, and the feeling of being overwhelmed was only coupled by all of his other work waiting to be tackled.

When Max met this client before his hearing, he couldn't help but notice that he was barely able to walk without crying and grunted-clearly a result of the pain his was in. In their meeting before the hearing, Max's client explained in detail the excruciating pain he encountered every day. And, on top of that, his client informed him that he had run out of money and was homeless.

During the duration of the hearing, Max's client was in constant tears because of his pain. Plain and simple, Max stated, "It was not a façade; you could see the pain in his face." His feelings of being overwhelmed by the amount of the client's medical records that needed to be reviewed, on top of everything else on his plate...well, it couldn't compare to what his client was experiencing at that moment. "It was at that point that I felt extremely guilty for complaining to myself about the huge "file" I had to review while I sat, in the comfort of my home and with perfect health, doing something that I get paid to do... It is not just "files" that we deal with. These people are placing their livelihood on our hands!!" Max said.

Our jobs are like most other jobs-they are hard. And, at times, overwhelming. But, the momentary sense of being overwhelmed is quickly overshadowed by our clients and their needs. Max couldn't have said it better-our clients are placing their livelihoods in our hands, and that's what makes our jobs so important and worth it.

We Get Letters & Emails...

Binder & Binder, Mr. Mario Davila,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, and your staff-for all your work and representation on my behalf. Your commercial surely holds true that your advocacy would ease the stressfulness of the governmental process. Among the representatives whom I spoke with via telephone, Ms. S., Mr. C., and receptionist, my experience was of a comfortable state. Thanks again to you all for your professionalism. I will certainly recommend your services to others.


Words cannot express how much I think you for the way you people handled my case. Thanks very much! May God bless each and every one of you people.


Mr. Davila,

I am writing to thank you and everyone at Binder & Binder for the hard work and concern that assured the successful outcome of my disability case. I am sure the case would never have concluded positively if it were not for the expertise of Binder & Binder. In tidying up my files, I came across the enclosed Pre-Hearing Prep video which I would like to return to you. The video was very helpful in preparing me for my hearing. Again, thank you so much. I will certainly recommend Binder & Binder to anyone I meet in need of disability legal services.



Dear Mr. Davila,

Thank you for all the correspondence you sent to keep my updated about my disability case. The judge ruled in my favor. Again, thank you.



Dear Binder & Binder,

I am writing this letter to let you know how thankful I am for getting you to handle my disability case. I am very pleased of the outcome of my case. I could not have handled my own case. I will highly recommend Binder and Binder to people that are trying to get their disability. You people are an asset to the society that we live. Again I want to express my thanks to you. You will never know how much I appreciate how you worked so hard to get my disability. Words cannot express my thankfulness. I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. You people have made a Happy Xmas for me, by the way you handled my case and got for me my benefits. May God bless each and every one of you people.

Thank you very much,

Thank you for everything. To you and yours this holiday season.


Dear Sirs,

I just want to complement on your recent work on my wife's Disability Application. Our claim was handled very professionally by your office and my wife's application was approved in less than (90) days. Special Thanks to Judy T. for speeding up our file and answer our questions. We are very pleased to see our claim handled by professionals like your company, while we were busy trying to find the best treatment for our disability. Thanks you to your entire team at Binder and Binder!

--R.D., and A.D.

Thank you so much for supporting me through this important phase of my disability. You have been, and continue to be, incredibly responsive to all my inquires and have been professional and informed throughout. You have always remained confident, kind and, most importantly, respectful to me, as you can well imagine is a trying and crucial matter in my life. Thank you, again, Crystal! You are an asset to B&B and those you serve.



We want to thank you in behalf of my mom Ms U. N. win her disability case. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Davila and the advocate. Please pass this information to them. We are grateful for your outstanding service.


Thank you so much in helping me with my Social Security Disability! I am so thankful for all your help! Take care and thank you again!

I was just recently awarded back pay plus monthly benefits from Social Security Disability. The first time I tried to get Disability benefits I was turned down. The second time I applied, a friend recommended to me that I contact Binder & Binder, and I'm so glad that she did. I am especially grateful to my advocate, Arizvel, and her assistant, Natasha. Both were very patient, caring, and straightforward with me.
Thank you so much again.


Mr. M,
I want to THANK YOU, for everything you have done in my time of need. Your phone call today, to my Family physician/Pain Management Physician, worked wonders. I received a call and I was told that all the paper work was completed and ready for pick up. Dr H completed my State Disability forms, your forms, and my FreeMedicine forms. I thank God that I have your support and ear; I know I have bent it pretty far. You have given me hope for the first time in the 20 years of my illness. I have written lyrics of hope. I have not written music in a long time. I would like to share this with you as you inspired me to write it.
God Bless you,

Now You Are Free
It's been a long hard road and my faiths growin' thin, my youth is gone, and I just can't win.
Playing by the rules got me nowhere, hiding all my fears, and keeping my cool.
Doors slam shut, and no windows are near, I think I have shed my final tear.
Then I remember, back in my youth, when the Lord spoke to me, and shared with me this truth; the road will be long, and your journey will be hard, do as I say, you are special in this way.
Accepting the consequences, and listening to my Lord; A gift he gave me, and told me to move forward
The pain of others, their deepest sorrows, your shoulders will carry.
Teach them with love; stay strong in their faith and warn them to be patient, for I will wait. My gate will open, the entrance is free, willing is necessary, faith is the key.
You have been saved. A love you will see, like nothing before, now you are free.

Binder and Binder® Power Person(s)

Luis Moure-I.T. and Max Ortega-Regional Manager and Advocate

For the second Newsletter in a row, we are reaching the same dilemma...who to feature? Like we said last time, the truth is our company is full of exemplary employees. If we had the space-we'd feature them all! So, we're going to compromise one more time and feature two of our excellent employees in this issue: Luis Moore and Max Ortega.

Luis Moure-I.T.

Luis MoureWhen we get our hands on a good egg, we like to keep them around. And Luis, well he is one of those good eggs. He's been with Binder & Binder® since 1994! After nearly 20 years, Luis can say he's had his hat in the ring for almost every position and has currently found his home in our I.T. department. In his role in the I.T. department, Luis is a jack of all trades. He does everything from help desk support to installing and configuring servers and other devices for the company. In layman's terms, Luis is a key player in making sure our computer systems are up and running and able to operate every day. It's not uncommon for Luis to board a plane and travel to set up a new Binder & Binder® office, or to trouble shoot major problems at others.

Luis, a native of Puerto Rico, grew up in the Bronx and calls our Long Island City office his home. Despite his Liberal Arts degree-a far cry from the technology field-he knew he wanted to make a big splash in our I.T. department. And, for him, the day he was finally able to move into his current role and work with his long time friend, Richie Martes, marks one of his most memorable moments he's had with the company. There's no doubt that Luis has been a star in every role he's played.

When he's not hard at work making sure all of our computer networks are operating at top-notch speed, Luis likes to spend his down time watching football. With four grown children between he and his beautiful wife of twenty years, and a grandson that he loves to death (both pictured above!), Luis is living the dream. We couldn't be happier to have him as part of our team!

Max Ortega-Regional Manager and Advocate

Max OrtegaWhen we get our hands on a good egg, we like to keep them around. Sound familiar? Well, much like Luis Moure, Max Ortega is a good egg. He's got a solid 15 years under his belt, and is settled in for many more.

Max is our West Coast Regional Manager. He oversees our San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, Hayward, and Seattle offices. In addition to his role as manager of our West Coast offices, he's also an advocate and performs a couple of hearings a month. Max's primary role at Binder & Binder® is the managing of our Orange, California office-it just happens to be our third largest office nationwide.

In his early years, Max was quite the mover-so his traveling shouldn't be too unfamiliar to him now! He was born in Spain, and grew up in both Mexico and Canada. Max attended college in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Southern California 17 years ago. Shortly after his move to California, he joined our staff and hasn't looked back since!

Max admits that his job isn't always easy, "The work we do is very mentally demanding..." He recounted a client he helped when he was a caseworker. "I was assigned to a homeless client that lived under a bridge in Long Beach, California. This client used to call very often and share with me the many struggles of being homeless. I still remember how happy I was when I found out that we had won his case and how good it felt knowing my work had contributed on helping this person gain back some of his dignity and ability to have a source of income." Max often reminds everyone in the offices that it's not "files" that we deal with at Binder & Binder®, it's real people in need of help.

So, when he's not splitting his time between offices and hearings, Max likes to bring some balance to the mental demand of work by heading outdoors for some physical activity. Max attributes his taste for the outdoors to growing up in Canada, and admits that mountain biking is his passion. The best way to end a long day at work? A night ride in the mountains of beautiful Southern California. You can also find him rock climbing, at the gym, taking his dog for a run, or preparing for a triathlon.

Though he wears many hats at Binder & Binder®, there's no denying that he wears them gracefully. "I truly enjoy all aspects of my job! As a manager, I think I am very lucky to be able to also do hearings; it keeps me grounded and in line with the company's mission!"


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