On behalf of all the attorneys and staff at the New York disability and workers’ compensation law firm of Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP, we would like to wish all our clients, friends and fellow travelers in the disability community a very Merry Christmas and a Brave New Year!
As reported in the Wall Street Journal today, the nation-wide Social Security Disability firm of Binder and Binder formally filed for bankruptcy last night in New York. The bankruptcy petition filed with the Court is 62 pages long (we will post on Monday) and lists current total employees as of October 2014 at 966. The bankruptcy petition indicates that the staff at Binder & Binder will shrink, presumably by closing offices and layoffs, to 355 employees as of December 2016. In addition, employee benefits will shrink by approximately one third.
According to the petition filed in Court, there will be no more Call Center employees or Case Interviewers by June 2015. Also, many talented employees will immediately try to find new positions in other Social Security Disability law firms. Finally, the current active client caseload of 57,968 is estimated to shrink to 15,163 by December 2016. This most likely means that Binder & Binder will stop taking any new cases immediately and simply wind down the existing stockpile. Many existing clients are likely to abandon ship now and retain new Social Security Disability lawyers.
This is a sad day for all of Binder’s Social Security Disability clients who are currently represented by… “America’s Most Successful Social Security Advocates”.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” As reported originally in the Wall Street Journal, Binder & Binder, one of America’s largest Social Security Disability Advocate corporations is preparing for possible bankruptcy this week.
The company is facing roughly $40 million dollars in debt due in part to the expensive and ubiquitous late night commercials featuring Charlie Binder in his infamous cowboy hat. In addition, the company is getting squeezed due to shrinking demand for its services and greater government scrutiny of Social Security disability claims.
Binder & Binder was once a small Long Island law firm founded by brothers Harry and Charles Binder. Over the years, they grew exponentially due to TV and internet advertising. The firm was eventually converted into an advocacy corporation with non-lawyer representatives. In 2010, the brothers sold a large stake in their company to a division of H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private-equity firm, for an undisclosed sum. Sounds like the brothers got out just in time, and HIG investors may now be holding the bag.
In my opinion, this is a good example why Social Security disability representation should be left to smaller local law firms rather than mega-national corporations with non-attorney advocates. The Social Security Administration should rescind fee withholding for non-attorney advocates which are the steroids allowing Binder & Binder and similar corporations to grow exponentially.
It is clear that the Binder & Binder non-attorney advocate business model may now be imploding on a massive scale, and its reported 57,000 clients are possibly at risk.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that employer costs for New York workers’ compensation in New York State will be reduced by a whopping $45 million in 2015. This was done by lowering the cost to run the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
The reduction in New York workers’ compensation costs to business was accomplished without cutting benefits to seriously injured workers. This is a win-win for employers and workers!
“Reducing the cost of doing business in New York has been a top priority for this administration and I’m proud to announce that our reforms to the workers’ compensation system have lowered rates [to employers] for the second straight year.”, Cuomo said in a press release.
Cuomo said administrative cost savings in 2014 amounted to $170 million under his administration. Cities, counties, towns, villages and school districts saved over $18 million.
The New York Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco applaud Governor Cuomo for saving money for New York employers without hurting injured workers. Please remember his efforts when you go to the polls on Election Day tomorrow.
Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP would like to urge you to preserve your right to New York worker’s compensation benefits if you participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up of the World Trade Center from 9/11/2001 through 9/12/ 2002. File a WTC-12 form (www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12) with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board by 9/11/14. This preserves your right to future medical and lost wage benefits, should you ever need them, if you get sick in the future.
For example, if you are diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer any time after 9/12/2014, you will NOT be able to claim valuable monetary and medical benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Board if you do not file the WTC-12 form by September 11, 2014. Even if you are not currently sick, please protect yourself by filing a WTC-12 form TODAY. You’ll be glad you did!
Most people who worked around Ground Zero during the recovery and cleanup are eligible. You should file a WTC-12 form (www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12) whether you were injured or not and whether you were employed or volunteered. This includes duty at Ground Zero, Fresh Kills Landfill, on the barges, the piers, and at the morgues.
All forms must be notarized and received by the Board by 9/11/14. For questions, please call us toll free at 1-877-693-2529 x123. Protect you and your family today.
Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California, interpreting the Fourth Amendment in the “digital age”, could impact the current Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into allegedly fraudulent Social Security disability claims. But let’s step back a minute and see where the DA’s investigation and the Social Security Administration’s responses currently stand.
See my prior blog post here on this Social Security disability fraud case regarding the initial arrest of an unscrupulous lawyer (Mr. Raymond Lavalle, Esq.) and his associates (Thomas Hale, in particular) who allegedly ran a decades long Social Security disability scam. If the allegations are proven (and I have every reason, based upon my independent knowledge, to believe that significant fraud was involved), all participants who intentionally participated in the fraud deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
However, some interesting legal issues regarding these cases have recently come to the surface. First, Social Security has recently begun terminating disability benefits and Medicare health insurance for all claimants who were represented by Mr. Lavalle. See SSA NY Disability Fraud Termination Documents here. Social Security is also demanding repayment of past disability payments, some of which run over one half million dollars.
While a certain amount of these former clients of Mr. Lavalle may in fact have participated in Social Security fraud, there also appears that there are many with legitimate disabilities who simply chose the wrong lawyer to represent them. Mr. Lavalle had strong hooks in police circles and he was known as the “go to” guy for Social Security disability matters. It would not be unusual for some legitimately disabled police officers to be represented by his law firm for Social Security disability claims.
Second, yesterday the NY Times published an important article on the bitter legal fight Facebook is now having in NY State Supreme Court against the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office over the information in the Facebook accounts of these Social Security disability claimants. See NY Times Facebook v. Manhattan DA Disability Fraud Case article here. See Facebook’s Official Statement here.
Facebook argues (I believe correctly) that the DA violated the constitutional right of its users to be free from unreasonable searches by demanding nearly complete Facebook data, including photos and private messages, on the claimants allegedly involved in these Social Security disability claims. In confidential legal documents unsealed this week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa Jackson sided with the DA’s office and allowed the broad subpoenas without notification to the individual Facebook users. It also appears that the information gleaned on these Facebook pages could have then led to wiretaps on the cell phones of the Facebook users.
The case is now on appeal. Facebook is represented by Orin Snyder at the national litigation powerhouse law firm of Gibson Dunn. In its opening brief (see Facebooks-brief-seeking-review-of-the-case-on-disability-fraud-subpoenas ), Gibson Dunn states that:
“This appeal arises from the largest set of search warrants that Facebook has ever received and presents important questions concerning the lawful limits of searches and seizures in the digital age.”
Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California also dealt squarely with the lawful limits of searches and seizures in the digital age. In that case, Justice Roberts ruling for an unanimous Supreme Court, observed that:
“…modern cell phones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of the human anatomy…”
So, the relevant questions in my opinion are:
- With an estimated 1.28 billion active users worldwide, how much less pervasive today is Facebook than the cell phones Justice Robert’s so correctly describes? Are Facebook users entitled to the same privacy protections as cell phone users?
- Will the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley impact the Facebook v. Manhattan DA case?
- Will the Facebook appeal in NY State Supreme Court have any impact on the Social Security Administration’s current attempt to terminate benefits from hundreds of disability claimants?
- Are the current termination of benefits efforts by Social Security the result of “fruit from the poisonous tree” (evidence obtained illegally)? If so, where does that leave the claimants involved in the alleged disability fraud?
I predict that the Facebook appeal will eventually be decided at the New York State Court of Appeals, if not the US Supreme Court. We will keep you posted.
Attorney Troy Rosasco, Partner at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco, has been consistently receiving 4 star ratings from his online Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course, “Disability Insurance Claims Primer: The Plaintiff’s Perspective” through Lawline.com. Mr. Rosasco has been a part of the CLE program since 2010 and is still receiving high marks for the content of his presentations nationwide.
Mr. Rosasco has given other online courses through Lawline.com including the well received free course on 9/11 Victim Compensation Claims in which he has proudly donated his time in creating so that others can benefit from his experience and knowledge in the field of Disability Law. He says, “Like all my CLE presentations, I do not get paid for either the presentation or any re-broadcast. I consider it a way to give back to the profession which has given me so much satisfaction over the years.”
In addition to his Lawline.com courses, Mr. Rosasco is also an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University School of Law, his alma mater, where he teaches a course on Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Law. “I really enjoy the interaction with the law students. Besides helping them learn an important area of the law, they keep me sharp!”
Mr. Rosasco is considered one of the top disability lawyers in the New York Metro area and has been named a 2014 Super Lawyer. He has been helping disabled workers for over 25 years in getting the disability benefits they deserve. He is also a much sought after resource by various newspapers and media outlets for his knowledge and expertise on disability law.
Our own Social Security Disability Paralegal Ronnie Drozda received a very touching and complimentary letter from one of our clients who unfortunately is suffering from multiple myeloma; an incurable bone marrow cancer. Social Security Disability Attorney Janet Santeramo-DeWaele was able to get our client a favorable decision on her case and Ronnie was right along with her to lend support.
Ronnie has been with Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco for over 12 years helping disabled workers with their Social Security Disability claims with understanding and compassion for each individual case that she assists with. This letter serves as testimony to her nature and how she works hard to help our clients get the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. “Ronnie has the extraordinary gift that enables her to sympathize and empathize with clients and has held the hand of many of them providing emotional support along with legal expertise as their claims were navigated through the murky waters of Social Security Disability. She is a remarkable human being and an outstanding team member,” says Ms. Santeramo-DeWaele.
This letter is just one example of many that we have received over the years on Ronnie’s behalf. Ronnie is hard-working and a naturally caring person who makes each and every client feel that they will never be treated as just a numbered Social Security Disability case. Ronnie genuinely cares about our client’s well-being. We are very lucky to have her as a part of the TRRR team!
Social Security Disability Attorney Henry Shapiro recently lectured a group of law students at St. Johns University of School of Law in Jamaica, Queens on Social Security Disability. Mr. Shapiro spoke about starting a career in the field of Social Security Disability Law and what it’s like working for Turley, Redmond, Rosasco &Rosasco. Although Mr. Shapiro touched on a variety of subject matters such as the administrative process, drafting appeals and legal memos, he also stressed why it is important to hire an attorney when fighting for Social Security Disability benefits and the major differences between a Social Security Disability Attorney and a Social Security Disability Advocate.
Getting Social Security Disability benefits is becoming harder than ever before to get a favorable decision without a lawyer. Mr. Shapiro says, “In an evolving climate where Administrative Law Judges are enlisting medical and vocational experts on the majority of their cases, it has become increasingly difficult for a claimant to obtain disability benefits without representation. He adds, ” A skilled and experienced attorney can cross-examine and interrogate the experts and work to lay out the evidence in your case to develop a winning theory that will allow the Administrative Law Judge to approve your case on the merits. The importance of having an attorney and bringing your ‘A’ game at the administrative hearing is magnified when reviewing the level of success at the Appeals Council for claimants denied at the hearing level.”
For the eager litigators and those looking to hone in on their interrogation skills, Mr. Shapiro shed some light on the structure of Administrative Law Judge hearings, which are generally known as a non-adversarial process, although that is changing as well. Mr. Shapiro stated, “Over the last year, the Social Security Disability program has been receiving publicity for the wrong reasons. Fraud perpetrated by a select number of physicians and claimants in an effort to obtain disability benefits has altered the disability culture that we have come to know. As a result, the Social Security Disability program has become the new whipping boy for Congressional debate.”
As a precaution going forward, many Administrative Law Judges are using resources that were previously far from common practice. While the Social Security Administration does not employ an attorney to represent its interests at the hearing, medical and vocational experts are growing in popularity as a tool to give judges evidence in the form of expert testimony that often times will result in medical or vocational findings contrary to what your treating physician indicates. Mr. Shapiro said, “The well-versed attorney will need to thoroughly review his or her file and evidence of record and develop a theory and strategy in anticipation of cross-examining the expert witnesses called by the Administrative Law Judge. The attorney must think on his or her feet, have the ability to conduct a direct examination of his or her client, as well as a cross-examination of potentially multiple expert witnesses, including physicians. The attorney must research and learn about various medical conditions so he or she can question a physician about something the physician has been practicing for decades – a difficult task but one that requires the preparation akin to that of a trial.”
Mr. Shapiro also cautions about using a ‘Social Security Disability Advocate’ rather than an attorney in Social Security Disability Claims. The Social Security Disability application process is a very delicate structure, involving claimants who are facing dire financial and medical straits and often are looking for legal assistance and someone who will listen. Turley, Redmond Rosasco & Rosasco has become known throughout New York as being a firm that does not practice as an assembly line. Mr. Shapiro says, “The attorneys and paralegals take the time to answer all questions and a personal touch is provided throughout the application process. This is not the norm however, as many non-attorney advocacy groups have increased in size and enlist “advocates,” not attorneys, to handle the serious process of Administrative Law Judge hearings.”
The hearing will determine the outcome of your claim and have a major effect on your financial status because by the time of the hearing, a claimant has likely been out of work for well over one year. Advocates are sent to do whatever hearings are on the schedule that day, and do not have the ability or the knowledge of the Social Security laws and regulations to invest the same amount of time and file preparation into a claimant and his or her file when compared to an attorney.
Mr Shapiro explains, “It is becoming far too commonplace where claimants receive an ‘Unfavorable Decision’ from an Administrative Law Judge after appearing with an advocate and then call an attorney explaining that they did not even meet or speak with the advocate until the morning of the hearing, they were not prepared for their testimony and the Administrative Law Judge did not know everything about their medical condition and impairments.” He adds, “An advocate tends to be a hired gun rather than an attorney who invests time and effort into every file and helps guide you from the initial application through the administrative hearing. When your financial future is on the line and you are forced to testify in front of an Administrative Law Judge, wouldn’t you want an attorney who practices law and specializes in Social Security and its programs rather than a non-attorney representative who just knows you as a name on a piece of paper?”
Should you have any questions about social security disability or need help with your claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.
On Saturday, May 10th, Senior Partner Bill Turley will be running the 14th Annual 5K Race/Walk Fun Run in support of the Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk (VNSHS). Bill started running back in High School as a member of the track team and has been an avid runner ever since. He runs every other day and has participated in many races over the years including the popular Cow Harbor Run in Northport.
This is Bill’s third time running in support of the VNSHS. He says, “I am by no means a championship runner. I usually wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack. For me it’s all about supporting this wonderful and caring organization. This year I am running in memory of my sister-in-law, Donna Andrews, who died of cancer in 2011.” Bill’s wife Elaine, who is an Elder Law and Estate Attorney, will also be participating and walking to lend her support to the organization.
The race begins at 9 a.m. and includes 1.6 miles of the historic Cow Harbor course. All proceeds of the race supports the VNSHS Annual Bereavement Retreat for Children. If you would like to show support or participate in the race go to www.visitingnurseservice.org.
Good luck Bill! All of us at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco are rooting for you in this great cause!