Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing Bad Information on Social Security Disability

When I first started the website, Disability Secrets, I had in mind the idea that it would be great to provide information that, at the time, no one else seemed to be providing online. A few years after, I decided to wade into blogging, something as well at the time that few seemed to be doing in this particular topic area (the reason was simple enough: all you have to do is write and the blogging software takes care of the more tedious aspects of web publishing).

Much has changed since those two starting points. Now, it seems that practically every disability attorney and representative alive has gotten into the publication of a website, a blog, both, or several of each. And as long as this provides useful, helpful information, I'd say the trend is wonderful. I can personally think of a few blogs that, as far as I'm concerned are legitimate gems. Tomasz Stasiuk in Colorado writes real answers to real SSD and SSI questions. Gordon Gates in New Hampshire provides information that, in my opinion, seems to be building into something equivalent to a disability representative's guidebook. Geri Kahn in California writes commentary that is topic-centered but also connects on a personal level. And Charles Hall, a former President of NOSSCR, seems to keep up with social security disdability related news like no one else can. All these individuals, disability attorneys all, can be found on my blogroll page and also on my representatives list, which are located in the left sidebar.

Unfortunately...not every blog that navigates this subject matter is a publication I can recommend. Sadly, and I do mean sadly, you have literally tons of individuals publishing SSD blogs and websites that, frankly, have no business doing so.

What do I mean by this? Am I inferring that an individual who hasn't worked inside the system in some capacity should not write about the subject? Not at all. There are many indivduals, social workers and vocational professionals among them, that have a solid grounding in this area and, as a result, can write accurate and helpful information.

Am I inferring that claimants who have actually gone through the draining process of pursuing disability benefits should not write about the subject? Of course not. Insider information, whether it comes from a former disability examiner, a former field office claims representative, an attorney, or a claimant is valuable because it is presents a point of view which has been privvy to direct experience.

What do I mean, then? Well, basically the internet equivalent of snake oil salesmen. Let me elaborate by citing an example. A couple weeks ago, I came across a posting by a disability attorney who also assists law firms with getting their message out. In other words, assisting them so their websites can get found on the net. Nothing wrong with that in concept.

However, this was the issue in the posting. The attorney was expressing his disdain for something he's noticed numerous times (that was my take on it, at least). As he stated, law firms that are trying to promote their websites will often hire a company to market the site and...write their online information for them.

As this particular attorney explained, this approach was often replete with problems for the firm that had hired the marketing company. The marketers would produce content, put it on the website, the information would then be found to have factual errors, would get pulled off the site, would get rewritten, would get put back on the site again, and then would be found to have more factual errors.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Of course, there is no mystery as to why this would happen. After all, the lawfirm that had hired the "marketing bozos" had turned the job of writing legal information over to individuals who were not attorneys, or in any way familiar with the area of expertise. Why would anyone in their right mind not expect this to be the outcome?

Was I suprised or shocked when I read this? No. I've known this for years, chiefly because nearly from the time I began to write about social security disability I have been beset by a plague of copyright infringers who seem to have no qualm with either stealing the information I write word-for-word and putting it on another site, or barely rewording it and doing the same. And in the majority of instances, this act of theft has been done for the benefit of law firms that have a website or blog, carried out by marketing bozos.

In nearly every instance, of course, when I have had to confront the attorney or law firm that has possession of my federally copyrighted material, I have been informed that they had idea this had been going on and that the act of piracy had been carried out by the hired marketers. Which I can believe with little difficulty.

Does this sort of thing happen a lot? It happens all the time. Is the law firm that hired the company that engages in copyright infringement ultimately responsible?

Yes. For starters, if infringement is done on behalf of an entity, responsibility can be laid at the feet of the entity, even if the entity did not specifically commit the act of infringement. However, when I say responsible, I really mean more than this.

What do I mean? Basically, that law firms and individual attorneys are expected to be a little more intelligent than this. Think about it. Why would you have an idiot marketer write information about a subject they know nothing about, so that you can put it on your site, the internet representation of your practice and business?

That is not simply less-than-intelligent. It is incredibly stupid. Yet lawyers do this all the time. I know because I encounter examples of this on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.

Here's the problem. The world is changing in terms of how information is dispersed. Lawyers want to be part of the new mechanisms of information dispersement. So they go to a company that promises them that they can propel their site to top rankings.

Only thing is...the attorneys never seem to bother to inquire how this might be done, and what the marketers might be "doing on their behalf". After all, how do they expect that marketing goons with zero knowledge of their field will be able to write dozens, perhaps hundreds of pages of content that is credible?

Answer: they either don't bother to ask which is irresponsible, or...they really do know what's going, or at least suspect it and let it happen anyway.

Which brings me back to the phrase "snake oil salesmen". There are plenty of them online these days, and, unfortunately, some of them are publishing "information" (that's putting it kindly) about social security disability.

How can the typical web user know to avoid the rubbish they put on the web? Here's a few tips.

1. If the article in question seems to be written by someone whose first language is not english, that's a pretty obvious tipoff. It's probably written by someone in a foreign country who is working for a marketing bozo company that has been hired by a law firm here in the states. I mean no offense to anyone who is not American, but let's be honest. No practicing disability lawyer or representative and no former cog of the system (disability examiner or field office worker) is going to write information that clearly indicates that they woke up in India, Pakistan, or Iran.

2. If the article in question appears on a site about ringtones, athletic shoes, or iphone apps, there's a more than fair chance that it was either stolen or written by someone who has no clue what they're talking about.

3. If the article appears on a site that has pictures of A) individuals in their sixties, B) people in wheelchairs, or C) guys in white doctor's coats, it's probably just a marketing goon website. (people who use wheelchairs at the direction of a treating physician will be approved for disability, so these idiotic images that are designed to have one believe that the wheelchair-confined are being routinely denied disability benefits are disingenuous and display the ignorance and incompetence of the marketing goon responsible).

4. If the article in question keeps using very odd phrases like "the services of a Tempe Arizona Disability attorney can greatly increase..." or "Do not despair. Florence South Carolina Dogbite Lawyer is very skilled in the area of Florence South Carolina Dogbite Law, thus Florence South Carolina Dogbite Lawyer will help you win your case..."-------WATCH OUT. It's probably a marketing goon website, or at the very least, the material was written by a marketing goon employee.

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