He rarely gets through the Long Island Railway or an airport without someone recognizing him from his TV commercials. "People say you're the guy in the hat. They don't know my name, but they know the hat," chuckles Binder.
Don't let the hat distract you. Binder and Binder is the largest disability claims legal practice in the United States and Charles Binder is a serious lawyer. Every year he storms the gates of the Social Security Claims system on behalf of thousands and thousands of broken Americans.
In the beginning, when the Binder brothers started their Manhattan practice, many people did not realize social security included benefits for disabled workers and many still don't. "Government doesn't advertise it," says Charles Binder. "When they send you your annual statement about how much you have in your social security plan they don't tell you anything about the program or what it does or who it is for."
At one time, 90 percent of people who applied for disability benefits through the social security system were turned down. "The only people who would get disability were people who were terminally ill and that was about it," Binder says. However, after Binder and his brother Harry Binder started advertising their services and the right to appeal, the ratio flipped. By Binder's estimate, with proper representation only one in 10 is turned away.
Binder's favorite client, and a case in point, is an orphaned woman who was born with no ears. By the time she was 6, she had had a dozen surgeries to try to correct the problem. She still only had partial hearing. Her high-pitched voice and unusual appearance made her the object of taunts at school. "She was the girl without ears," says Binder. "She would run hysterically from the classroom. They made fun of her all her life and from the time she was 16-years-old she was afraid to go out."
As an adult, she applied for disability benefits but was rejected. "She was really defenseless and hopeless." says Binder. He argued her disability was emotional and arranged for a psychiatrist's report. Because she had never worked he won a stipend based on her late parents income, plus disabilities benefits and the right to access Medicare. It took five years, but Binder won.
That is why I became a lawyer," says Binder. "At the end of the day I know what I do has made a difference to other peoples lives," says Binder. "In my world I get hugs and kisses.
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When Binder isn't clanging the bell on behalf of his clients he likes to listen to the music of Steven Sondheim. One of the Broadway composer's best known songs is "Everything is Coming Up Roses". No wonder Binder likes Sondheim.
Charles Binder is a graduate of Georgetown University Law School and a member of the New York Bar. He has handled literally tens of thousands of cases, hearings, and Federal Court Appeals. Binder and Binder is based in New York City and has offices across the US.