A Good Lawyer is the Key to Winning - But What About the Fee?
Transcript edited for clarity:
How come you retired?
I’m old! I’m 77! When I turned 75, I said, “OK, that’s enough, time to play!”
Then how come you are still doing this blog?
Because I can’t retire. I unplugged my business line when I retired, and by happenstance I turned it on a few months later, and I had 87 calls waiting for me. 48 of them were people who really needed help!
I assume they are coming in because people are reading my website, which is still online, and need advice. Under those circumstances, I can’t retire.
What do people need you know about you now that you are retired?
Well, I am not gonna take your case. But I’ll hear you out over the phone. I’ll be happy to do it and take my time with you because I love this work.
And, if you have a case of merit, and you need a referral, I can refer you to a lawyer who I think will be dynamite for you. He will call you if I tell him you have a case of merit.
If you don’t want a referral, that’s fine – but I won’t be taking your case.
Should people worry about a fee?
Everyone worries about the fee. Now, I won’t charge a fee for anything. I’m retired, and your conversation with me is free.
If you do take your case to a lawyer, there will be a fee. Here’s my advice about a fee.
If your #1 worry is the fee, you are worrying about the wrong thing. If you don’t have the money to pay a lawyer, it makes sense to be concerned.
But if you win, the take here (if we can talk in gangster terms) is very high. The fee will pay for itself.
Let’s say you are 55. Now, a lot of people get disability retirement even earlier. You are going to get, in the first year, 60% of your three-high-year-average salary. In the second year, you get 40%.
Now, people say, “Oh, 40%, that’s not a lot of money.” Well, it is when you are doing nothing. Because you are allowed to go out and work at any job for which you are not disabled, and you can keep the entire 60% and 40%.
However, your outside income must be less than 80% of the current base salary of the job you left. Still, Harvey says:
That is what I call making out like a bandit.
When do you make that 40% until?
You earn 40% until age 62, when you fall under the regular retirement annuity. But your years taking disability retirement benefits count toward your annuity. That’s another part of banditry!
So when you say, “Don’t worry about the fee”…
If you are going to make out like a bandit, why worry about how much it costs to make out like a bandit!
If you knew a stock would grow by three or four times, you would pay a little up front!
Now, if you don’t have money for a fee, that is a different problem. But many lawyers, including the ones I would refer you to, will be willing to take a contingency fee. That means they only take a fee if you win.
That will make it possible for you to get the help you need.
If you want to talk to Harvey about your situation, fill out the form at the right, send him an email, or give him a call. As a semi-retired lawyer, he is here to talk with you and help as best he can – think of him as a friend you drop in on for advice.
Podcast #3: A Good Doctor is the Real Key to Winning:
Transcript edited for clarity:
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Which is more important in getting disability retirement, the nature of my disease or injury, or the symptoms from which I suffer?
ANSWER: The disabling symptoms matter most, although diagnosis of a fatal or very serious disease can certainly be expected to have some impact on the disability decision. For instance, people with cancer do not automatically qualify for disability retirement unless they are presently suffering from the disabling symptoms of that disease. On the other hand, you don't have to suffer from any particularly serious disease, or even from any diagnosable disease in order to qualify for disability retirement. You only need to make the appropriate showing that you are suffering from disabling symptoms, even if the cause of the symptoms is unknown.
The rules are tough in not allowing a mere diagnosis to serve as a ground for disability retirement. But the rules are also lenient in permitting you to qualify for disability retirement on the basis of disabling symptoms which may appear to be minor or which effect you only on particular occasions. A person whose job requires travel by plane on occasion, but who is unable to fly on account of chronic back pain may well be eligible for disability retirement, even if an asymptomatic cancer patient is not eligible.
How sick or injured do I have to be in order to collect disability retirement?
ANSWER: You do NOT have to be totally disabled to collect disability retirement. You are considered disabled if you are unable to render "useful and efficient service." If you are unable to perform satisfactorily a single (just one and any one will do) "critical element" of your current government job on account of an illness or injury, then you cannot render "useful and efficient service" and are eligible for disability retirement. It does not matter that you may be able to perform all of the other elements of that job. If you can't perform that single "critical element," then you are by definition disabled.
To some this sounds too good to be true; particularly to some physicians who are accustomed to thinking of disability in terms of wheelchairs, oxygen tents, and life support machines. They often fail to grasp the fundamental point that Congress has chosen to define disability for government employees in far more liberal terms than disability is defined in other areas of the law. As a consequence of their misunderstanding, many doctors are reluctant to go all out for their patients who do not meet the more traditional definition of disability. One result is that their patients end up being denied a benefit to which they have a legal right. One of my major tasks in representing government employees seeking disability retirement is to educate physicians and others on this critical point so that they can, in turn, really go to bat for their patients.
Example: Andy suffers from the chronic pain of a slipped disc whenever he is required to sit for even short intervals. Andy's desk job requires long stretches of sitting. Andy has no trouble playing golf or dancing till dawn, but he cannot sit without pain. Because Andy can not render "useful and efficient service," he is disabled from his government job even though he can play golf and dance. If he meets the other requirements, he is entitled to disability retirement.
I have represented Federal government employees and Postal workers seeking OPM Disability Retirement for a long time. I also represent them in agency leave problems such as AWOL, FMLA, LWOP, etc. Leave problems often come along with being sick and disabled. I have stuck to this area of the law for more than 30 years of the 50 years I have been a lawyer.