I always tell you in our television commercials that "We'll deal with the government, you have enough to worry about." I know there is no way to put a happy face on being disabled. It's terrible financially, it's often physically debilitating, and maybe most important, it's an awful blow to your pride. So you certainly do "have enough to worry about." Because disability can make life so difficult, many of our clients understandably suffer from depression. Depression isn't just a bad feeling. It's often the result of so many things going so wrong for such a long time that you feel like your life is out of control. Depression can be so serious that it can be a disabling condition in its own right. The word "depression" tells us a lot about the condition it describes. A depression is literally a hole. In this case it's a hole in your emotional system, which means it's a hole in your life. It's like a pothole on the road called living. But hitting a "depression hole" in your life is even more dangerous than hitting a pothole with your car. After all, hitting a pothole can damage your car, but a serious depression can damage your entire life.
A depression can be an even more serious problem when it is combined with other illnesses and that's often the case. One of the signs that you might have a serious depression is not wanting to do anything, especially anything physical, such as exercising. If you have arthritis, exercising can be painful. But exercising is important for a person to overcome arthritis. If you don't exercise, your ability to get around and function will decrease, and the increasing pain and and immobility of arthritis can deepen your depression. Depression causes stress, and stress can damage your immune system, which in turn weakens your ability to fight off infection and other conditions, which can make the exercising you need to do even more difficult. And so it becomes a vicious circle.
Arthritis is among the biggest causes of disability in the United States. At least 50 million Americans are affected by one of the 100 known forms of arthritis. The experts tell us that people with rheumatoid arthritis (R.A.) are twice as likely to be depressed as people who don't have R.A. The experts spend a lot of time wondering if the depression is mostly biological or psychological. I'll leave that for the researchers to figure out. I'm just concerned about the effect on you, which is pretty much the same. And it's tough. That's why we say, "You have enough to worry about." Those experts also say that patients with R.A. and/or depression are more likely to self-identify as disabled. Of course people are more likely to be depressed when they can't work - so there's another vicious turn of the wheel.
When you have to admit you're disabled, and therefore you must request some kind of accommodations at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that's also stressful. Not all employers are understanding. And unfortunately, because conditions like arthritis are progressive, the worse your physical condition becomes the more likely you are to become more depressed.
Most people understand that serious physical conditions such as arthritis can be disabling. But I want you to know that depression by itself can also be such a serious condition that it might make you eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits if your doctor believes it keeps you from being able to work. Interestingly, when you have a diagnosis of both a serious physical condition and a clinical depression, you'd think that it would be easier to win your SSD benefits, but that's not always the case. As I've mentioned before, much more than half of all initial disability claims are denied, so being denied even if you have both conditions is not that surprising. The next option is an appeal, but the government also denies a large percentage of appeals...another nasty pothole in the long and winding road to your Social Security Disability benefits. That's why on our commercials I tell you "We'll deal with the government, you have enough to worry about." We do deal with the government. And that will cut down on lots of the stress that's causing you so much trouble, which makes it one less very big thing for you to worry about.
Life can be a trip down a rough road when you're disabled. I understand what a difficult time you're facing. But there is also good news. There are now medical and psychological treatments available that have proven to be quite effective in treating depression. So if things have been going so wrong for such a long time that your life is beginning to feel like it's out of control, I urge you to get help. Talk to a doctor about what's hurting you. Then give us a call. We've filled in the potholes on the difficult and dangerous road disabled folks must travel since the 1980s, with many thousands of positive results. That's why we're known as America's Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates.
What's New in Our World
We decided to hit the streets (or, rather, hit the internet world of Facebook!), and ask our clients what questions they had for Charles Binder. The response was fabulous! Of course, many clients were curious about their own claims, but a lot of great questions came our way about Social Security Disability claims, and the intricate processes that surround them. Each question was sent directly to Charles for his answer! We shared the questions and Charles' responses on our blog and Facebook page, with the hope that others may benefit from the new information. A few of our Q&A sessions are below-you can find more by visiting our Binder & Binder® Facebook page, our blog on www.binderandbinder.com.
Question: One of your associates or representatives told me to get a recommendation letter from my primary doctor (for my SSI application). But my doctor refuses to write me one, though he tells me I'm disabled. How can I ask her to change her mind? Some suggested to pay her for the letter. But some said it's against the law to pay her. I want to make sure I won't offend anybody. Some said it's against the law because it's "bribery". I don't know what to do.
Charles Binder's Answer: I think it is your doctor's obligation to help his patients to obtain necessary coverage. With Social Security Disability, one gets Medicare. With Medicare, one can get medical treatment; without it many people cannot afford treatment. How can any doctor say he will not help you get Medicare when you deserve it? Medicare will help you get proper medical care. What sort of doctor doesn't care if a deserving patient gets insurance to cover necessary treatment? This doctor should be told that you consider it part of his job to assist you to obtain medical treatment if you are entitled to get it through Social Security Disability.
In my opinion, if your doctor refuses to cooperate she should not be your doctor. She does not care enough about you, her patient.
But a doctor is entitled to be paid for his time. You are not " bribing" her. You would be bribing her if you were asking her to do something that she knows is dishonest or illegal. If she does not think you are disabled, she does not think you are disabled. But if she does, her failure to help you get the benefits and the insurance that goes with it is disgraceful. If the doctor wants to be paid, pay her a normal fee for her time writing such a report. We have created forms so that the doctor can very quickly give an opinion on your ability to work.
Many doctors mistakenly feel that if you can function at all, you are not disabled. But being disabled does not mean you are a vegetable. It means the inability to work day in and day out at a competitive rate of speed-- essentially full time work. If you are over fifty it may mean merely the inability to do your past type of work. Most doctors don't know that so you may have to explain the government's definition of disability to her.
Question: Why does it take over two years for you to get a hearing from social security when you take over the claim?
Charles Binder's Answer: It does not always take two years to get a hearing although in some parts of the country it might. It has nothing to do with us or any other representative. First, SSA is unbelievably inefficient. Secondly, the number of claims filed by baby boomers has overwhelmed the system. This was expected when Congress did an actual study in 1983 and slightly altered the Social Security Act (at one time in history, Congress actually functioned). As we all know, the years following World War II were years that many returning soldiers started families. These children are now entering the prime disability years-58-66-so many who have become disabled are applying.
In addition, the Great Recession has also forced many marginal workers, those people who are less valuable to employers, to apply for disability when they were let go. A marginal worker is someone an employer might keep on despite his or her disability when the economy is strong. When the economy is booming it is better to have a weak employee than to have the job go unfilled. But when the economy goes south, employers are forced to let employees go, and naturally they choose to let go the people who are least productive...those who because of their disabilities are not as valuable as an unimpaired worker. These marginal workers have applied for disability because they are not able to hold a competitive job. So there are more people applying for disability than normal. On the other side of the coin, the Social Security Administration has been gradually reducing staff for the last few years. There are approximately 10% fewer employees than there were 5 years ago. Sequestration has caused the SSA staff to shrink. So we have fewer and fewer federal employees handling more and more cases, which is why delays are longer and longer. None of this has anything to do with our representation. We want clients to have their hearings as soon as possible. I want clients to get their back due benefits as soon as possible. If I were running the SSA, each ALJ would handle more cases and I'd hire enough staff to get decisions done quickly. The previous Commissioner made it his priority to get the hearing delays shortened, and to some extent, succeeded. The Acting Commissioner has not made hearing delays her priority, and the number of days to get a hearing has grown steadily under her.
**Do you have a question about Social Security Disability that you'd like Charles to answer personally? Send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that you be respectful with your questions and avoid questions specific to your own claim, as we are unable to answer them publically**
We Get Letters, Emails, and Messages...
Thanks to everyone who helped me. I cannot express with words how great of a team you have that has put so much effort time to help me and my children. I will forever be great full for everyone at Binder & Binder. C. D. (Facebook)
I would like to take this time to thank both you and your staff for assisting me with my case. C.D. (Card)
Dear Binder and Binder,
First; thanks for the stellar work you and Jack C. did in winning my disability case. Jack said, "We slam-dunked it," and told me he couldn't have asked for a better witness. It was surreal...after fighting for so long. Six years!
As the (representatives) who slam-dunked my case, I am hoping you can help me with this and set the SSA straight regarding what was awarded to me by the judge, because they are ignoring the original judgment and what was awarded to me in the judge's decision. I don't know why they think they can do this and I will simply lie down and accept it. I will not!
Thank you very much for your time,
First off, thank you again for your help. I am truly thankful for your help and your kindness certainly changed my opinion of B & B.
Second, your level of interest and your hands-on and patient nature make you a saint and you definitely deserve a giant raise. I would be HAPPY and I give you my permission for you to send this email to anybody at B & B, or you may forward this to the powers that be with my sincerest thanks and my complete permission, and copy me so I know they got my letter of praise on your behalf.
Thank you once again for your kind patience and you enormous help in my understanding of how SSA works and helping me gather the appropriate documents to win my case.
With my sincerest appreciation,
I finally had my SSDI hearing on December 11, 2014, in Henderson, Nevada. My representative, Fei, came in to town from San Jose, Ca., and was totally prepared with all my medical evidence, and met with me and my wife an hour before the hearing. He was extremely professional and went over my records with me to make sure I was not missing anything. He made me feel at ease, as I was extremely nervous not knowing what really to expect until he explained how these hearings are conducted. My wife and I want to thank Fei, courteousness, professionalism, and for winning my case. I would highly recommend Binder and Binder to others. Thank you so much!
Thank you for fighting for me! You don't stop until you get a YES! -K.L. (Facebook)
When I first filed for disability, I filed on my own and was denied. I got discouraged, as they hope, and let my appeal date lapse. The second time, when I was denied, a family member referred me to Binder & Binder®, and they really do deliver on their promise. After some initial paperwork, which included the many medical releases they would need over the coming months, they handled pretty much everything. My caseworker/advocate team was outstanding...they went above and beyond their jobs many times, and were always, always kind. Everyone there was. Now that my case is done, my ALJ hearing over, and my disability awarded, I can't recommend them enough. I thought I had to have the traditional lawyer to handle everything for me. After such an amazing experience, I now know that I was very wrong!!
-J. S. (Facebook)
Binder & Binder® was a God send! They answered all my questions, got back with me in a timely manor, Got me my SSI-SSD in about four months. I was and still am appreciative for what they have done for me. If you are looking for and advocate who will fight for you and get all of your paperwork in order and someone who will "Deal with the government for you" there's no where else I would turn. Thanks Binder & Binder.
They are the best. You need disability help, go see them.
I wanted you to know how very much I appreciate your work on my case. I know it is your job, and one you do very well, that is something I would say, win or lose. Fortunately with your efforts and those of your associates, we did win. So I thank you for the job you did, which has resulted in the "fully favorable" outcome. Should I come across anyone in need of a good Social Security Disability firm, I will not hesitate to recommend Binder and Binder. Thank you for the progress of my case at each step and thank you for caring about the outcome. The fact that we won makes it apparent to me that you do your job with excellence. Most Gratefully,
To Whom It May Concern:
I am very thankful and grateful to all your office on how polite and hospitable and knowledgeable they are. I also want to take the to time thank Mr. Jackman for his attention that he paid to my case. Thank you again to the Raleigh, NC office. You are an outstanding crew that shines brightly on Binder & Binder. Keep up the good-no GREAT work. Thank you,
Dear Samantha, I wanted to take this time to thank you for not only your exceptional representation in regard to the Favorable Decision of Judge Lyons, but also for the successful outcome of my case. When Judge Lyons ruled in my favor from the bench, he stated to me that he rarely renders decisions during a hearing, and I knew right then and there it was because of you that he did. I personally feel blessed to have had you as my attorney throughout this entire ordeal. I appreciate all your hard work, guidance, and diligence in handling my case. I would also like to that Jozette for her proficiency and for all of the kind words of encouragement she has shown me, along with the entire staff of Binder & Binder for their assistance in helping me obtain my Social Security benefits. In closing, although my health continues to be extremely poor, I feel as through I have a new lease on life because I no longer have to depend on my family for support and the weight of the world has been lifted upon my shoulders. I continue to have good and bad days, but I've learned to take it one day at a time. God bless and take care, Sincerely, C.F. (Letter)
Dear Sir, I wanted to thank you for having Samantha X. on your staff and for letting her be assigned to me. Applying for disability and working with Binder and Binder has been a very difficulty and harrowing experience and process. Samantha, who I was only connected to a few short months ago, has been the only Binder & Binder person with whom I've felt safe, the only Binder & Binder person with whom I've been able to relax, and the only Binder & Binder person who made me feel truly and sincerely respected. Unless you've gone through this horrible process, you cannot begin to understand what a gift Samantha is to your clients. I can only hope that more Samantha's get hired by Binder & Binder for the tormented souls who have to apply for disability, and that Samantha will be held up as the standard for employee/client relationship in ton of voice, word choice, empathy, and respect. I cannot thank you enough for her kindness mixed with professionalism. She has been a great source of comfort and encouragement to me. Sincerely,
Binder & Binder Power Person: Amanda LaConte Behind the scenes at Binder & Binder®, there's a great big family. Our advocates represent our clients in person at their disability hearing, but before they even get to that point, their claims have been worked on endlessly by a number of employees along the way-each level of our staff is an essential part of our team! The newest Binder & Binder® Power Person is Amanda LaConte, and she is most definitely an essential part of our team. Amanda started at Binder & Binder® almost 5 years ago. She currently serves as the Supervisor of the Hearing Department located in our Tampa, Florida office.
Amanda was born and raised in Throgs Neck, New York, and began working in our Hauppauge, New York office in 2010. A personal need arose for Amanda to head south-far away from home- and she transitioned into her new and current role in Tampa. "When I arrived in Tampa, I was welcomed with open arms which made me feel much more comfortable about the nerve racking move," Amanda said.
A day in Amanda's life at Binder & Binder® usually involves numerous tasks, including the training of new employees, monitoring both seasoned and new employees at work, updating information for our advocates as they travel to meet clients for their hearings, and helping our advocates organize their days and answering any questions they may have while on the road. When Amanda's not busy helping keep everyone on task and making sure our traveling advocates have everything they need to be successful, she's relaxing with a few of her hobbies, which include softball, bowling, and trying new restaurants. "I'm a serious foodie!" Amanda said. You can also find Amanda spending time with her new fiancée-he proposed the day before Thanksgiving! We're very lucky to have Amanda on our team. She is, without a doubt, an essential part of the Binder & Binder® family!
Inside This Issue
A Word From Charles E. Binder .............................
What's New in Our World...................... ..............
We Get Letters, Emails, and Messages.....................
Power Person of the Month...................................
- Disability Digest Fall 2015
- Disability Digest Fall 2014
- Disability Digest Summer 2014
- Disability Digest December 2012-2
- Disability Digest September 2013
- Disability Digest December 2012
- Disability Digest April 2012
- Disability Digest December 2011
- Disability Digest October 2011
- Disability Digest June 2011
- Disability Digest January 2011
- Disability Digest December 2010
- Disability Digest November 2010
- Disability Digest August 2010
- Volume IV Issue #2