Thank you for visiting my website.

I hope you’ve been able to find the information you need about filing a claim for Social Security benefits and how I may be able to help you obtain benefits.

If you decide to contact me to obtain further information or assistance about applying for and obtaining Social Security benefits (disability, retirement, survivor’s), feel free to call my office for an appointment for a consultation. I offer two different types of consultations:

(1) For people who are considering filing for retirement, survivor’s or disability benefits, but who aren’t sure if they need a lawyer yet, I offer a 30-40 minute consult for $80. Additional time or if I need to do research to make sure I provide you with up to date information is billed at $225 per hour. You must authorize additional time and/or research. My fee is due at the end of the consult, after we've finished discussing the results of my research or as soon as I've sent you a written report or letter regarding the results of my research.

If you choose this consultation, I strongly encourage you to think about and write/type specific questions you would like me to answer. You may want to bring to your meeting something (paper, tablet) you can use to take notes. This is so we can make the best use of our time.

(2) If you have already applied for Social Security disability benefits, perhaps have received your first denial, or if you are sure you want to apply and that you want a lawyer’s assistance, I provide a free consult.

For this type of consult, I ask that you get a copy of your more recent records of medical and/or mental health treatment (if you are receiving mental health care). To decide if I can help you, I need to see what medical evidence there is of the disorders, illnesses or injuries that have stopped you from working full time on a regular basis.

Records of treatment are:

  • Doctor/PA/NP chartnotes;

  • MRI/X-ray/CT scan reports (any diagnostic imaging reports);

  • Surgical reports, blood test results;

  • Physical and/or occupational therapist chart or treatment notes;

  • Psychological evaluations, or a psychologist or psychiatrist’s treatment notes or reports;

  • Nerve study results (conduction or other) and any other diagnostic testing;

  • Sleep study reports;

  • Hospital records if you’ve been admitted to a hospital (just the admission and discharge reports is fine),

  • ER or ED (Emergency Department) notes or treatment/test notes.

What are not medical records are the papers you’re given when you leave a hospital, most of what you can download and print from health care provider patient portals, and sometimes by a health care provider’s office, or bills from a hospital, clinic or pharmacy.

If you request copies of your records from your health care providers, have the records sent or given directly to YOU. Do not ask that the records be sent to me/my office. Your health care provider may provide your records (for the past 6 months-one year–you decide) to you at no cost. It is far less likely that those same records will be sent to me for free. Unless you provide me with a cost retainer of $400, I will not accept any records that I believe I will be billed for.

I also accept letters or statements from treating health care providers that state what physical or mental limitations your health care provider believes you have and if the health care provider thinks those limitations will last at least 12 months. Limitations are limits on what you can do physically and mentally, such as:

  • How much you can lift at one time, how much weight you can lift 1/3 or 2/3s of an 8 hour day (or how often);

  • How far you can walk at one time, if you need to use a cane or other assistive device when you walk, if you are able to walk on rough ground or only level ground, can you go up and down a flight of 5 steps, 20 steps, and if so, is there any limit on how often you can climb those stairs?

  • How long you can sit at one time, or through the course of an 8 hour work day, if you need to alternate sitting or standing because of back or other pain, if you need to sit with you feet up, if you need to lie down and rest during the day;

  • if you can reach above your head to grasp or handle objects, if you have any limitations on the use of your hands to grasp/handle large objects

  • Or grasp/handle small objects with your fingers and hands,

  • If you are limited to driving short distances or shouldn’t be driving at all.

  • If you have limits on how well you can see, even with corrective lens, or if your hearing is limited/less then normal, even if/when you wear hearing aids.

  • Some conditions, such as MS or fibromyalgia, make it difficult to predict what you will be able to do from day to day, or you may need to rest during the day time for several hours sometimes, if that is the case, your health care provider can say so.

  • Mental limitations would be any limits or difficulties you have in thinking, following written or verbal instructions, dealing with changes in work settings and routines, concentrating for up to 2 hours at time, completing your work at the same pace as co-workers and without making too many mistakes, or in interacting with other people, from members of the public to supervisors and co-workers.

It only matters how long you can sit, stand or walk or how much you can lift, think, remember, get along with people, etc., if you can do less then you used to or most people your age can because of your condition, illness or disorder.

A letter from your health care provider saying that you are disabled is not helpful.   Social Security has its own definition of disability (just as the VA does) and "reserves" the determination of disability to itself.

If your treating health care provider won’t provide a written letter, I am willing to speak briefly with your mental or medical care provider regarding your disabling conditions. You must authorize (give permission to) your health care provider to speak with me and make sure that I won't be charged for a short (up to 10 minutes) conversation.

IF you have already received your first denial, Social Security (SSA) is likely to have requested some of your medical records in order to make a decision on your claim. If your health care providers tell you they will charge your for copies of your records, then you may want to get what records you can from Social Security.

You are entitled to a free copy of whatever medical records Social Security got to make a decision on your Social Security disability case. To get that copy, you must request those medical records in writing. If you have difficulty getting to your local SSA office or don’t want to wait to see someone at the local office, you can mail or fax your request to your local Social Security office. Your letter should include: your name, your Social Security number, that you want a copy of whatever medical records SSA obtained/got to make its decision on your claim, and that you want this information to help you with your appeal from SSA’s denial of your claim. You need to sign and date your letter.

I very strongly suggest that you make and keep a copy of your letter and mail your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so that you have proof of when SSA received your request/letter. Sometimes it takes up to three (3) weeks for SSA to mail your records to you and sometimes you may need to call and ask what has happened to your request. SSA should send you your records on an encrypted CD, with instructions on how to decrypt it.

For people who have already been to a hearing on their Social Security disability claim and are looking for help with filing a request for review of the ALJ’s decision by the Appeals Council:

If you represented yourself at your hearing, you should have been given a CD with all of the exhibits for your hearing. That CD should be mailed or dropped off at the office so I can review it before our meeting. I would also like to see the ALJ’s (administrative law judge’s) decision.

If you were represented at your hearing: unless your representative is no longer representing you or is willing to withdraw from representation (stop representing you on your Social Security disability claim).      I can’t help you. Except in a very few situations, your representative must withdraw before I can represent you. You should be able to get a copy of your exhibits file (all the records and other information the ALJ considered at your hearing) from your former or current representative. I would suggest getting that copy on CD, and bringing it by my office for me to review. If you have not been able to get a copy of your file, you can bring your copy of the ALJ’s decision

You can ask your attorney or representative to withdraw or you can tell your representative that you want to find other representation.   You may need to do so in writing.   It's up to you to make that decision and to take action.

I do only a limited number of federal court appeals. Before I agree to represent someone I need to see a copy of the administrative law judge’s decision, any evidence and written argument submitted to the Appeals Council (after the ALJ’s decision) and the Appeals Council decision. I also must know if you are currently represented, and if so, if your current representative wants to handle your appeal to the federal district court.