Mr. Downard worked for the Social Security Administration for over 11 years prior to receiving his law degree. Since then, he has spent another 14 years handling Social Security and Disability cases. That’s nearly 25 years of direct experience working both for and against the Social Security Administration. Our current attorney profiles and staff members are listed below.

At Downard & Associates, our team of attorneys and staff bring similar experience to our other areas of practice as well, including criminal defense, domestic relations, personal injury, and more. Contact us today for more information.

Our goal at Downard & Associates, PLLC is to treat every client with the respect every person deserves. We focus our talents on helping the person and not just handling the case. As our client, you can expect us to resolve your issue promptly in the most favorable manner possible.

Downard & Associates, PLLC is made up of real lawyers working hard for real people. We are not a law firm made of stuffy lawyers, but a team of professionals dedicated to helping our community.

Attorneys

David Downard, Firm President

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Hello, my name is David Downard. I was born in Springfield, Tennessee in 1968. I would like to tell you why the Disability Program is important to me. My father died when I was (12) twelve years old, and I was raised by my grandparents. I received Social Security Benefits which, in turn, financially helped me graduate high school.

After I graduated high school, I went to college. While in college, I was married. We had a son that was born with a disability. I worked full time, but we still qualified for SSI and Medicaid. His medical bills were paid (in excess of $1,000,000.00) while I was able to graduate. He died of heart failure in 1991. That year, I decided to work for the Social Security Administration and started as a service representative.

At the same time, my grandmother applied for disability and was denied. I had no idea how to help her win. She gave up on trying to get her disability. She was (60) sixty years old.  I continued working for the Social Security Administration. After awhile, I knew I could help people fight for disability. I enrolled in law school and graduated in 2002.

Since then, I have committed myself to disabled people who need guidance to obtain the monetary and medical benefits they deserve.

Thank you,
David C. Downard

Jim Tiller, Attorney

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A resident of Tennessee for the past 20 years, Mr. Tiller worked his way through law school and passed the bar immediately upon graduating. Mr. Tiller is dedicated to protect, preserve and defend his clients’ legal interests. He believes through open, honest communication, hard work and preparation, he can provide dedicated, compassionate service that will achieve results.

Jim Tiller continues to focus his legal practice in the area of social security disability, personal injury, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice and general negligence and tort claims.

Jim is an active member of the Tennessee Bar Association and Tennessee Association for Justice. Jim is a member of the Tennessee State Bar, and is admitted to practice law in the Tennessee Supreme Court and United States District Court of Middle Tennessee.

Jim serves the local community by being a volunteer and sitting on the Board of Directors at Genesis Learning Centers, a non-profit school in Nashville which provides specialty programs, schools and services for children and adolescents who are experiencing emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges.

Robert Parker, Attorney and Technical Issue Manager

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Mr. Parker is an associate with the firm. His practice focuses primarily in the areas of Social Security Disability/SSI, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Medical Malpractice, and Veteran’s Disability Claims. He is accredited by the VA to represent Veterans in the preparation, presentation and prosecution of claims for VA Benefits.

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Mr. Parker obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Lambuth University in 2004 and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 2008 from the Nashville School of Law.

Bobby Parker has successfully litigated multiple cases for auto accident victims and disability clients.

Mr. Parker is a member of the Nashville Bar Association and the Tennessee Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before all Tennessee trial and appellate courts.

Chelsea Parker, Attorney

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A native of Pulaski, Tennessee, Chelsea Parker is an associate of the firm. She received her B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009. While in college, she gained experience as an intern with the Office of the Public Defender. In 2010, she began working for Downard and Associates as a Legal Assistant and attending Nashville School of Law after work in the evenings. She graduated from Nashville School of Law in 2013 and was admitted to practice law in Tennessee in 2014.

Her practice focuses primarily in the area of Social Security Disability/SSI. She currently resides in Brentwood with her husband and enjoys volunteering as a preschool leader at their church.

Erica C. Chitwood, Attorney

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A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Erica S. Chitwood is an associate of the firm and manages the local office. Her practice focus is Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income. She received her B.S. from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2004 with honors in Political Science. Ms. Chitwood worked on behalf of disabled claimants as an Intern with Congressman Zach Wamp. She attended Nashville School of Law from 2004-2009, where by she graduated in the top five percent of her class and was inducted into the Nashville School of Law’s Cooper’s Inn Honor Society. In 2009, she was admitted to practice law in Tennessee and became an accredited representative by the Social Security Administration in 2010. Ms. Chitwood is also admitted to the Middle District Court of Tennessee and she also holds VA Accreditation. She has been practicing disability law since 2010 across seven different states. She works hard to secure disabled people the benefits they deserve.

Ray Akers, Attorney

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Cumberland University, Cum Laude. 2004 Nashville School of Law

Prior legal experience: Family Law, General Business Law, Criminal Law, and Civil Litigation serving primarily Wilson, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, and Williamson Counties.

Licensing:
– Admission to Practice: Tennessee Supreme Court
– Admission to Practice: United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee
– Admission to Practice: United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
– Trained Family Mediator – Supreme Court Listed 2011-2015

FREE CASE EVALUATION

Your Name (required)

Who is Disabled? (required)
 Self Others

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Phone Number

Email Address

Already receiving Social Security benefits?
 Yes No

Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy)

Marital Status

What health/medical condition that prevents applicant from working?

Will a doctor verify that you are not able to work?

Have you ever applied for Social Security Benefits?

If yes, when were you last denied?

Did you appeal?
 Yes No

If yes when?

Do you HAVE an attorney assisting you with this matter?
 Yes No

IMPORTANT: Most initial applications for SSD are denied. Would you like an attorney to call for a FREE NO-COST evaluation?
 Yes No

Support Staff

Lonna Downard, Operations Manager

Lonna Downard moved to Nashville after getting her degree in business from Ivytech State College in 1999.  Throughout her career she has achieved many merit awards and business-related certifications.  Lonna has an extensive background in business operations and expert customer care.  She has over 14 years professional experience in the legal field helping people in need.  Lonna is committed to providing superior service to our clients and the community.

Lisa Tittle, Business Manager

Graduate of Hendersonville High School. Attended Volunteer State Community College.

Spent 30 years in Administrative Management with the Tennessee Department of Health where management responsibilities included budget, personnel, contracts, purchasing and legislative affairs. Retired in June 2008 and joined Downard and Associates in 2010.

Veronica Dismuke, Paralegal / Case Manager

Kaplan Center Institute College, Nashville, TN Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies, ABA Approved 3.54 GPA (Honors) in 2008

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability, Worker’s Composition, Domestic, Personal Injury, Criminal Law, Bankruptcy Law

Ginger L. Ecton, Legal Case Manager

Graduate of Owensboro Senior High School.

Worked as Regional Manager for 26.5 years for a Large Formal Wear company.

Karen K. Chapman, Legal Assistant/Office Manager of Jackson Office

Graduate of Lambuth University with a Bachelor of Science Degree

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Martha A. Ruehle, Legal Case Manager

Martha has 34 years experience as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal. She has assisted to help recover compensation for clients in the following areas: personal injury, medical malpractice, insurance defense, workers’ compensation, real estate, probate, juvenile court and social security disability administration. She worked as the Assignment clerk to a Chief Criminal Court Judge (multi county) for two years. She served 11 years as a paralegal/office manager for a family law firm, as well as 4 years with a private investigation firm handling criminal defense cases.

Kelly Jones, Paralegal

Kelly graduated from Franklin High School and pursued a career in paralegal while working for a personal injury attorney in Columbia, Tennessee from 2008 – 2014. Ms. Jones can truly empathize with what clients are going through. In 2007, she and her sons were in an automobile accident, which resulted in horrific injuries. She knows firsthand, just how it feels and therefore, gets extreme satisfaction in helping others receive the best results possible from their accidents and injuries.

Legal Support Areas: Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation and Auto Accidents.

Celeste Grant, Office Consultant

Graduate of Hendersonville High School.

Attended Volunteer State Community College.

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Samantha Gray, Receptionist / Intake Specialist / Appeals Specialist

A graduate of White House High School, her experience includes customer service and medical collections.

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Amy Pearson, DDS Specialist, Receptionist, Intake Specialist

Graduate of Madison Academy in Madison, Tennessee. Worked for Gaylord Opryland Resort for 12 years before joining Downard and Associates.

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Crystal Moses, Customer Care Specialist

A graduate of Hillwood High School, she also attended Nashville State Community College. She has worked for Vanderbilt University, The Nashville Scene, and Gaylord Entertainment before joining Downard and Associates.

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Brandon Chapman, Legal Assistant

Graduate of Jackson State Community College with Associates degree.  Currently pursuing Bachelor’s degree. Served 6 years as a Combat Engineer with the Tennessee National Guard with a tour of duty in Iraq.

Kristie Moore, Paralegal

Kristie Moore is a paralegal with our firm. Kristie obtained her Paralegal Certificate from Tennessee State University in 2009, has worked in the legal field since 2002, and has 13 years’ experience in the bankruptcy field, during which time she has honed her client service skills. Kristie shares this firm’s commitment to excellence and relies on her education, training, and experience to assist in securing the best possible outcome for each client.

Mike Jensen, Intake Specialist, Documents Specialist

Graduated Gallatin High School in 1996. Graduated Vol State in 2001 with Associates degree in University Studies.

Attended Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University; majoring in History and minoring in Political Science

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Baby D, Team Mascot

Baby D is our team mascot. He supports the staff and clients with lots of love and laughter.

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