After nearly 50 years in the legal profession Timothy Cuddigan has announced his retirement effective January 2024. Tim CuddiganIn 1994, he began focusing exclusively on Social Security and VA Disability Law. He has personally helped thousands of disabled people qualify for the disability benefits they earned. He has built Cuddigan Law into a successful law firm employing the very best attorneys and staff, which will continue to deliver excellent results for the firm’s clients.

His retirement caps a distinguished legal career where he has become recognized locally and nationally for his knowledge of Social Security law and has earned the respect of his colleagues in the legal profession. He has also served as president of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, a national organization for disability attorneys and advocates.

Tim will take a step back from day-to-day practice but will continue to provide strategic support, mentoring, and advice to the firm. We hope you will join us in wishing Tim all the best as he embarks on this new and exciting chapter in his life.

We sat down for an interview with Tim where he reflected on his law career, looked at the public’s perception of disability benefit programs, and offered his advice for those seeking benefits.

What inspired you to become a lawyer?

It actually started when I was a young child. I grew up watching Perry Mason on TV and I wanted to be like him — fighting for people’s rights. Then by the time I got to college my goal was to find a job where I could make a good living and help people. And I have stayed with it for 49 and 1/2 years.

What drew you to the specific areas of Social Security and VA disability?

For many years I was engaged in what I would call the general practice of law. Basically, I was doing whatever came through the door. Then in January of 1994, I joined a practice led by Bruce Brodkey and about the second week I was there a Social Security case for an existing client came in. I went to the hearing and I thought to myself, I can help this guy. He had a terrible medical condition, but I was able to tell his story to the judge and ask him questions so he also could also tell his story to the judge. We won his case and I was able to get him benefits, which I know made a difference in his life.

What did you enjoy most in your practice of law?

Just visiting with the clients, hearing what their problems are, getting them ready for a hearing, then going to the hearing, and winning benefits for them. The Social Security disability process can be a bit overwhelming for clients. I remember so many times when after a hearing a client would ask me “What happened in there?” and I would tell them “We won.” They became overcome by emotion and relief and with tears in their eyes, they gave me a big hug. That alone made all the hard work worthwhile.

Success in winning disability benefits is really a whole team effort. We have a great staff that provides incredible support to our attorneys and clients — keeping all the paperwork in order, collecting needed medical records, updating clients on their cases and so much more.

How many Social Security beneficiaries do you think you've helped in your career?

I can tell you that it's probably 10,000 people.

In your long and distinguished career, what are you most proud of?

I'm proud of all the people that I've been able to help and make a difference in their life. Nobody gets rich on Social Security benefits, but it gives them a piece of dignity. In many cases, it helps them become eligible for medical care, some of which they haven't gotten before. But having an income and the medical care that comes with Social Security benefits are vital lifelines for so many disabled Americans.

I am also so proud of the Cuddigan Law staff. We have a stable staff with many long-term employees. Together, we have been able to develop the systems and processes that serve our clients very well, so they have the absolute best opportunity to win their cases, that takes a team efficiently working together. While in retirement I will continue to be involved in the firm as an advisor and mentor, but I know the firm is in very good hands, especially under Sean’s leadership. It has been one of the joys of my life to see my son join the firm and become one of the top advocates for those seeking the Social Security and VA disability benefits they have rightfully earned. I am also pleased that Kim Schram joined us as a member of our team as Social Security disability lawyer. She has more than 15 years of experience representing Social Security clients.

Among your many achievements, you're a past president of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. Why did you choose to volunteer your time and talents for that organization?

 I was very interested in helping other lawyers get educated in the best way to represent clients. We had a circuit conference that put on an educational program. For many years I was either the chair or the co-chair of that program and it was a good opportunity to help lawyers learn how best to handle cases and to share strategies and techniques.

NOSSCR also advocates and lobbies for the disabled. We try to persuade both the Social Security Administration and Congress to properly support those who cannot work due to debilitating injuries or illnesses. It’s a challenge sometimes. One of the things that came up while I was the NOSSCR president was an issue about the Social Security Disability Trust Fund running out of money. Because there was kind of a peak of baby boomers coming of disability age, I would say from 2010 to 2018 or so and that put a strain on the trust fund. Now the Disability Trust Fund helps the old age and retirement fund. All the problems of the solvency of trust fund could be solved if the politicians would raise the payroll tax just by a slight amount, but it takes some political will to do that.

What do you think is the biggest misconception the public has about Social Security disability?

That somebody's getting rich off it and that it's a giveaway. And it's not. It's something you can Google, but the average disability payment is less than $1,500 a month. It's harder to get disability now than it was in years past. Social Security has changed the rules to make it more difficult.

If you were limited to one piece of advice for those seeking disability benefits, what would it be?

Get medical treatment. Go to the doctor on a regular basis. Calling your doctor on the phone doesn't count. You need to keep your medical chart current.

What are your plans personal plans for retirement?

I'm going to spend some time fishing and watching my grandkids play sports. I have nine grandchildren ranging in age from 5 years old to 27 years old.

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