I have received an e-mail from Charles E. Binder of Binder and Binder today. Here's part of it:
You have written that Binder & Binder "can no longer afford to update medical records" because of its bankruptcy filing. That is completely untrue and I have no idea what the basis for your statement could be. Although Binder & Binder is in bankruptcy, its primary concern remains to ensure that its clients are competently represented. That remains my personal goal as well.
I believe that obtaining existing medical records relating to a claimant's disability which have not already been obtained by Social Security is a crucial part of representing a Social Security disability claimant. Fronting the costs of obtaining those records is a traditional part of representing Social Security claimants. Even looking at it from a strictly selfish point of view, refusing to front the costs of obtaining existing medical records seems irrational to me. The costs of obtaining the records are modest. The risk of losing because the records aren't obtained is significant. The fees from one additional case won will pay for the expenses of obtaining records for dozens of claimants. Besides, in most cases it's possible to obtain reimbursement from the client after they've been paid by Social Security.
Binder & Binder's policy on medical records remains unchanged. There are multiple components. First, the most crucial evidence is not usually medical records, which are often illegible, vague and rarely address the client's disability, although Binder & Binder routinely seeks the doctors' office notes from treating sources. What Binder & Binder really wants is a narrative from a treating doctor summarizing the client's history, treatment, diagnosis, prognosis, etc. If that is not possible, Binder & Binder asks the treating doctor to fill out a questionnaire answering the questions that the SSA deems crucial when deciding disability claims. When the doctors' records are important and Binder & Binder can not get them or the client cannot afford to pay for them, Binder & Binder asks the SSA to issue subpoenas for the records. I note that our client retainer agreement has long provided that the client is responsible for payment for medical records. Nonetheless, Binder & Binder routinely pays the cost of obtaining narratives and answers to questionnaires (and medical records too) when clients cannot afford to pay the doctors' bills to get the information.