A few weeks ago, Google officially launched the disavow link tool and webmasters and SEOs have been all over it.
One such webmaster was pretty upset that after she used the tool, she had no successful results. He posted his complaint in a Google Webmaster Help thread saying, "My humble opinion is that Google's disavow tool.... is a utter waste of your time!"
Google's John Mueller didn't like that so he spent a few minutes digging through the URLs he submitted in the disavow tool and the actual URLs he should have submitted in the disavow tool. What he came up with was that this webmaster had tons of URLs he did not disavow that he should have.
I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you've had with your previous SEO. It does appear that there is manual action being taken on your site based on some of the links that are still out there. My recommendation would be to double-check the list that you've used in the disavow links tool, make sure that it's really comprehensive and that it matches what you've worked on removing manually, and then submitting another reconsideration request when you feel ready.
John then went on to specifically call out some of the many bad links pointing to his site.
Did any of you have success with the disavow link tool?
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.