Wichita's John Brennan is one of the Midwest's leading attorneys securing Social Security disability benefits for qualified individuals. It's an important, challenging - and widely misunderstood - field of the law, largely because the public and the press simply aren't aware of who can qualify for such benefits, and how those benefits are calculated and disbursed. Indeed, despite the struggling economy and pressures to cut them, Social Security and its disability programs remain the nation's cornerstone for preserving the well-being of millions with physical or mental impairments. It's a field -- indeed a cause -- that Brennan, a 52-year-old former tax lawyer, has championed in Kansas for the better part of his 27-year legal career. Without a doubt, his practice has improved the lives of thousands. Further, he's battled for greater rights of beneficiaries living at home, a sensible and more cost-effective alternative to nursing homes and institutions. Thus he loves his field: "Among some lawyers it's perceived as a small and bureaucratic niche practice," says Brennan. "But you'd be amazed by the sense of satisfaction you get from this work, especially when you can deliver positive results for people depending on you."
Brennan, one of four children, spent his early years on his family's Haskell County wheat farm. His father, a farmer all of his life, moved his family to Dodge City where the younger Brennan attended high school. He excelled in high school, and went on to Wichita's Kansas Newman College (now Newman University), graduating summa cum laude with majors in English and Business Administration. By his own admission law school at KU wasn't the greatest fit - "I'm pretty hands on. I value practical experience, and all that theory wasn't for me." Still, he joined a well-respected tax law firm in Wichita, and for nearly a decade was "a quiet tax lawyer with a lot of high-profile clients in the Kansas business community." But by 1997, well along in his career, one of Brennan's siblings confronted severe mental health issues; Brennan dropped everything to assist, appealing to the Social Security Administration and securing benefits, for which his sibling qualified. In the process Brennan learned the intricacies of public benefits law; an alphabet soup of standards and terminology. Brennan, who himself combated depression as a young adult ("In the old days we Irish used to self-medicate on a barstool; treatments are little better today"), has a rare commitment to his specialty, and his clients have clearly benefitted from that. He has taken cases all the way to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals - and won.
Brennan will handle scores of cases on behalf of workers who have developed physical and mental impairments, appearing before administrative law judges in what are high-stakes matters: "You either secure the benefits - or you don't. There is no in between. But more people qualify than they realize." Despite sharp limits on lawyer compensation for such cases, Brennan's practice maintains high standards; Brennan Gott Law P.A. has an effective and competent team of lawyers, paralegals and staff. He's built his practice in no small part by conducting no-cost seminars, as well as by referral. Away from the office Brennan is "only a mildly compulsive" runner and weight lifter. He and his wife Mindy have three children, including two daughters in college.