Binder and Binder is the largest social security disability advocate firm in the country. I doubt there is a single TV viewer who has not seen attorney Charles Binder in his cowboy hat urging social security disability applicants to “let them take care of the government”.
The Wall Street Journal has written a recent article about attorneys Harry and Charles Binder titled “Two Lawyers Strike Gold in the U.S. Disability System”. The article indicates that the Binders as attorneys earn more in social security disability attorney fees than anyone else in the nation, and that ex-employees have said that Binder and Binder routinely withholds medical records it deems unfavorable to their client’s case. The article can be found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203518404577096632862007046.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories
I have commented before about the Wall Street Journals series of articles on the social security disability system, and the general poor journalistic standards these articles seem to be upholding. This article is about the same as the prior ones.
The article suggests that there is something wrong with the Binder brothers making a lot of money in their disability practice. Apparently the Wall Street Journal finds that Wall Street investment bankers making millions by churning money and selling worthless investments is an example of the free market system at its finest, but it is reprehensible for the Binder brothers to make a good living by helping disabled people! Keep in mind those fees are not just lining the pockets of the Binder brothers, but pay for the substantial overhead, salaries, and advertizing of the Binder and Binder business.
Congressman Tom Coburn, the top Republican on a subcommittee on Social Security, is now calling for an investigation of Binder and Binder on the issue of withholding medical records.http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/12/23/Coburn-calls-for-Binder-Binder-review/UPI-98491324620881/#ixzz1hOT1v46m. Coburn has been a long time critic of the social security disability system, and has opening called for social security to approve fewer disability claims. It is naive to think he is just interested in reigning in the Binder and Binder firm.
Though some attorneys believe their ethical duty to “zealously represent” their clients may leave some wiggle room on what they choose to submit into evidence, one thing is clear: ALL Administrative Law Judges believe it is wrong for the social security disability attorney to withhold medical evidence. In my 20 years of social security disability practice in Dallas Fort Worth I have never withheld evidence, and I have worked hard to make sure there is not even a suggestion that I have done so. Every medical file has some evidence that may not be supportive of a disability claim. The social security disability attorney’s job is to explain why that evidence is less credible than the favorable evidence – not try to bury it.
An experienced social security disability attorney must maintain high integrity before the ALJs that decide disability. While I know of no ALJ that would deny a meritorious claim because she does not trust the lawyer, the tone of respect and trust your disability attorney sets in the court room is critical to your success in securing social security disability benefits.
I make no judgment as to what has gone on at Binder and Binder. It is clear, however, that they now have a huge credibility problem with the ALJs. It may be much easier for a national like Binder and Binder to make these kinds of errors giving their heavy reliance on non-attorney staff. In my office, I personally handle the submission of medical evidence. You should expect no less from any social security disability attorney you hire.
As a national lawfirm with a bigfoot print, Binder and Binder makes a big target. But I would submit the real target is their, and my, clients: disabled Americans.
Binder and Binder, and I pursue a very different social security disability practice: they are nation wide, and I focus only on the Dallas Fort Worth, North and East Texas area. I believe, that social security disability claimants should hire a local, experienced attorney with whom they can have a more personal relationship. But that does not mean Binder and Binder handles disability cases in the “”wrong way”, or that they are unethical.