Nestled among the pine forests of Northeastern Minnesota in the town of Cook, Disability Specialists has been serving people applying for Social Security Disability benefits for nearly 30 years. Our founder, Tom Ehrbright, spent many years as a Social Worker for St. Louis County. Seeing firsthand the hardships that individuals face when applying for Social Security Disability, Tom founded Disability Specialists in 1989 with the goal of helping people obtain the benefits, and stability, that they needed.
In the beginning Tom worked out of his home. As more employees were hired to help with the expanding caseload, Disability Specialist built our first office building in 2006. We called that building home until 2011 when our current headquarters was completed on Ashawa Road in Cook. Tom’s commitment to service, and his dedication to his clients, continues to this day. His daughter, Kelly Blad, serves as CEO.
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Our representatives will explain how Social Security’s rules apply to your claim and help you complete all initial paperwork. They will oversee everything that happens throughout your claim and will also appear with you in front of an Administrative Law Judge if necessary. All of our Representatives have passed the rigorous Social Security exam which allows them to be directly paid by the Social Security Administration.
Kelly Blad, MA, EDPNA
Chief Executive Officer, Representative
Kelly has been a Representative with Disability Specialists for the past 10 years. Prior to that, she was a police sergeant with the City of Golden Valley for 13 years. Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Public Safety Administration and Education. Kelly is passionate about winning claims for her clients so they can have a better quality of life. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and five children. Kelly is crazy about the outdoors and exercise; she is an avid kickboxer and runner.
Amy Pearson, EDPNA
Representative, Staff Supervisor
Amy has been with Disability Specialists for almost 14 years, and a Representative for the past 5 years. Having helped hundreds of clients over the years, she feels a great sense of pride and fulfillment knowing that she has made a positive difference in the lives of so many people. She loves what she does and strives every day to provide the best possible representation for her clients. Amy enjoys watching science fiction, gardening and helping out her family’s dairy farm. Amy, along with her husband and son (and two dogs and two cats), lives north of Minnesota’s Iron Range in Cook, MN.
Emily Olson, EDPNA
Emily started working with Disability Specialists in 2010. She became a Representative in 2011. Her favorite thing about the work she does is that it is never the same; every person is different, every combination of impairments is different, and every claim is different. She truly enjoys using her knowledge of the law to maximize favorable outcomes for our clients. Emily received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work she enjoys doing anything with her kids, especially outdoors. She also enjoys playing the piano. Emily, her husband and kids live in Duluth.
Ann Hunt, EDPNA
Ann has been a Representative with Disability Specialists for six years. Prior to that, she worked as a Disability Representative for a large hospital system in the Metro area for five years. Ann earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication and is certified in mediation and negotiation. Ann spends most of her time at Hennepin County Medical Center and is committed to being an advocate for those working through the challenging disability process. She enjoys traveling, hiking, the outdoors and spending time with her family.
Bart Paynter, EDPNA
Bart has been working with Disability Specialists since 2011, in total he has been representing clients with Social Security disability claims for over 10 years. His favorite parts of his work are the incredible team of people he works with and helping his clients feel more hopeful about their future. With a more stable financial footing they can focus more time and energy on recovery and improving their health. Bart has bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Spanish Studies. Outside of work he enjoys being outdoors and active. At the end of a busy week he winds down by watching a movie together with his family. The company of others is a joy in his life.
Ehren has been working with Disability Specialists for more than 8 years, and as a representative for the past year and a half. His favorite part of his job is diving into the complicated technical aspects of Social Security law to help our clients receive a favorable decision. Outside of work Ehren enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and playing guitar with his friends. Ehren and his family live in the Cook, MN area.
Lizzbett has been working with Disability Specialists for nearly 7 years, the last two years as a Representative. She loves that we are dedicated to serving our clients with respect and empathy through a difficult time in their lives. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Services. Away from the office Lizzbett enjoys going for long walks and jogs and spending time with her family.
We offer full service with extensive support at every step of the Social Security disability process. Our highly qualified office staff will assist you through many of the processes necessary for a successful claim.