Friday, February 18, 2011

Former Congressional Aide Opens New Business

After several years of serving in the office of former Congressman Bart Gordon, Putnam County resident Billy G. Smith is putting his expertise to work to help those who are struggling to navigate the Social Security Disability application process.  Smith says helping people is a theme that has run throughout his career, which began in 1965 at the Cookeville Police Department. In 1968, he left his role as police lieutenant to begin the first of what would be three consecutive terms as Putnam County sheriff. After his tenure as sheriff, he served as Putnam County trustee for eight years, followed by a 26-year stint as congressional field representative in Congressman Gordon's Cookeville office.

"Social Security Disability was one of the main things that we worked with in that office, so after Congressman Gordon retired, I decided to just continue doing that type of work out of this same office," said Smith, whose business, Billy G. Smith & Associates, is located in Gordon's former Cookeville headquarters at 15 S. Jefferson Ave.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance can be an arduous and lengthy process for those seeking benefits because there simply aren't enough workers to handle the large volume of cases that Social Security offices typically receive.

"It usually takes at least a year to get approved, if you're lucky," said Smith. "Many times people will get turned down the first time and have to go back and get new evidence. Sometimes, after the decision is made, even if it's favorable, it goes into a holding pattern, and sometimes they will randomly send cases for further review."

Smith says that his years of experience in expediting the process make him the ideal candidate to help people in this situation.

"Because it's not their area of expertise, many people simply do not understand the route nor the evidence that would be helpful to them in filling out a lot of these somewhat complicated forms and applications," said Smith. "We can tell them what they need to do to give them the best chance of getting the benefits that they deserve the first time around."

He adds that because disabled applicants are usually unable to work, many of them become destitute before they are able to start drawing benefits. For that reason, he does not charge for his services until the client's benefits come through. The public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting and open house for Billy G. Smith & Associates, set for Wednesday, March 2, from 11 am to1 pm Light refreshments and cookies will be served. For more information, stop by Smith's office or call 526-4445.