May 2011

Social Security Disability in North Carolina: Perils of Giving Up Control

May 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve been frustrated by a bad experience at Reconsideration or at an Administrative Law Judge hearing; or you’re just “dipping your toe” into the social security disability process – understanding how it works and what the implications might hold for you – you need to be worried about a hidden danger.

That danger has to do with a loss of control.

When you get on a benefits program — whether government takes care of you, a friend, family member or a neighbor takes care of you — you can experience a subtle but very real loss of control regarding your own life and destiny. Since you no longer can “earn a living” or “pay your way on your own,” you obviously must find a means for support. Otherwise, how would you pay for needed services like medical care, food, housing, etc?
On other hand, psychology research clearly shows that people who lose control over their lives – who cede control to other people or systems – wind up feeling depressed, anxious, and less healthy.

If this research is correct, it creates a kind of paradox for North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries. You obviously need the money. But if you start accepting too much support – then you lose control – then you feel depressed, anxious, and sicker.

A way around the dilemma

The feeling of “being in control” is really subjective. You can be in prison or confined to a wheelchair and still feel control and in charge of your destiny. Conversely, you can “have it all” – be the CEO of a company, be in perfectly good health, etc – and feel out of control because you’re allowing yourself to be constrained by certain rules or societal explanations or beliefs that have been imposed upon you by friends or family members or society or what have you.

So in some ways, the situation is all about your mental outlook. How are you going to frame your frustrations and problems? Are you going to blame other people or blame your situation? Or are you going to accept your current reality and take responsibility for what you can take responsibility for – for what you’re physically and mentally able to do – and use this new frame to set the rules for your conduct and your mental health?

It’s a challenge, and the choice is obviously up to you. If you need help dealing with the logistics of collecting social security disability benefits, connect immediately with the team at DeMayo Law for a free and confidential consultation.

More People On Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere: What Does It Mean?

May 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The number of workers who collect social security disability insurance in North Carolina (and elsewhere in the US) has spiked over the past five years, according to recent survey data. In December 2007, for instance, 7.1 million workers collected social security disability insurance (SSDI). In April 2012, that number had spiked to 8.7 million – a rise of nearly 25%. According to professional analysts at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase, this statistic can explain – in and of itself! – about 25% of the drop in the US labor force participation since the beginning of the “great recession” of 2008.

What’s causing this? What are the ramifications?

When people hear about these statistics, they often chime in with their opinions. And there is no shortage of theories. For instance, an executive at a Washington organization known as the National Academy of Social Insurance, Virginia Reno, suggested that the rotten economy created a series of disincentives for certain people to return to work – particularly people who work “blue collar” jobs and who find themselves stranded in an increasingly service-dominated economy.

On a more practical note, the surge of beneficiaries may have implications for you. The queue is getting longer. More and more people are applying for SSDI. In 1990, for instance, only 8 out of 1,000 people applied for SSDI. Last year, that figure was more than double – 18 out of 1,000 working age Americans sought social disability benefits. The economy is contracting, and more and more people are going on benefits programs or seeking benefits.

Rooting out the whys and wherefores of this trend is a fraught business. We can speculate.

For instance, one of the clearest trends in health data has to do with obesity and diabetes rates. Epidemiologists now agree that we are facing what’s essentially an epidemic of obesity and diabetes (“diabesity,” as some people call it, because the two diseases are so closely linked). So whatever might be driving this epidemic might also be indirectly contributing to the woes and frustrations of social security disability.

For help understanding this program and understanding what you can do to maximize your benefits and minimize your stress, connect today with the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free, confidential, and complete consultation.

Michael A. DeMayo Scholarship Program a Powerful Reward for Initiative, Intelligence and Community Service

May 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Attorney Michael A. DeMayo is a strong proponent of something that was never taught in law school – giving back to the community. His firm’s signature program, Arrive Alive! Don’t Drink and Drive was just presented for the tenth consecutive year in a row to local area high school students.

When asked why the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo got involved with this issue, DeMayo responded, “Our office deals with alcohol based tragedies almost every day. Our goal is to do whatever we can to prevent these tragic, life shattering accidents from occurring. It’s our hope that teenagers will see the kind of consequences that can result from even one poor decision, and decide to make smarter decisions that will save their lives.”

In conjunction with this initiative that seeks to prevent the tragedies that occur due to underage drinking and driving, the 2012 Michael A. DeMayo Scholarship Program awards were handed out as well. Fifteen excited high school seniors were each awarded $2,500 scholarships to assist with their college education.

The scholarship program is open to any high school seniors in the 23 counties served by the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. This includes eighteen counties in North Carolina and five in South Carolina. DeMayo is proud to report that his firm has bestowed $237,500 in scholarships to 97 intrepid, hard-working and civic minded seniors since the inception of this program in 2003.

Click here for a full list of counties eligible to participate in the scholarship program.

The students vie for this coveted scholarship award with a combination of their own community involvement and a personalized presentation that they develop. Its focus is to highlight the dangers of underage drinking and encourage fellow students not to drink and drive. This presentation can be in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, a video, a brochure, a website or an essay. And last but hardly least, grades and SAT scores are taken into consideration.

Since this generation of teens is so tech-savvy, Michael A. DeMayo was not surprised to see the presentations come in the form of infographics, professional looking websites and cutting-edge videos, along with the time honored student tradition of essay work. They directly tackle the issues that face them, including peer pressure and even how the scourge of drunk driving has already impacted their young lives.

We want to give a hearty and heartfelt shout-out to these fifteen young adults for their outstanding effort and initiative!

Our kids are one of our society’s greatest resources, and perhaps our greatest hope for ending the plague of drunk driving on our nation’s streets and highways. Please help us honor these kids for their efforts in this vital area by checking out their fantastic presentations.

For more information on these programs, or the work of the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, please contact us today.

Flaws with the Social Security Disability Insurance Program Are Way Beyond Your Control

May 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you are a young, sick worker, who needs social security disability in North Carolina to pay for your rent and blossoming medical bills; or you are a baby boomer who needs supplemental security income due to a diverse basket of health problems (and their attendant medical bills!), you can be easily discouraged by news about the government’s benefits programs.

For instance, a recent report on social security disability insurance found that 10.6 million disabled Americans collected nearly $130 billion last year. This figure is astonishing. To put it into some context for you, the workers and their families were paid 25% more than the federal government collected through taxes on payroll. Why is this concerning? It’s concerning because, if we keep this behavior up, collectively, it will cause serious global financial ramifications. The spiking cost of disability insurance already sucks away nearly 20% of all the social security budget – that’s nearly 20 cents out of every dollar.

It’s an amazing amount. And that high figure combined with the fact that this figure is trending upwards has scared a lot of pundits and policy people. But while it’s good to have conversations about how to deal with this situation, if you or someone is sick or disabled or ill, there is really not much you can do by yourself to handle the social security disability crisis!

So when you do start getting distracted by it – reading news reports, blog entries, editorials, or what have you – know that you are ultimately stealing focus from more productive uses of your time.

We live in an attention deficit age – our attention is stressed and stretched more so than ever before in American history. Even healthy, “I can work easily” type people often find themselves spinning way too many plates. And if you are sick in need of disability benefits, you likely have even fewer productive hours in your day. Thus, you have a reduced ability to concentrate on the vital stuff that you need: to heal yourself, to deal with your bills, to manage the different problems in your life, and so forth.

The point here is not to tell you that we should ignore the grander problems of social security. Rather, the point is to get you to focus correctly! You need help. You need granular, “specific to you” help about how to get benefits, how to deal with a confusing system, how to ensure that you get paid on time, how to manage your out of control bills, how to get the appropriate medical care, and so on and so forth.

The focus has to be on you. (Or, if you are caring for someone else, it has to be on that person.)

Let the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo help you understand what you might be up against and develop strategies and tools to get the maximum results from your benefits quest.

Scary News about North Carolina Social Security Disability: How Concerned Should You Be?

May 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

With the 2012 political battles beginning to heat up, be prepared to hear some significant “doomsday” news about social security disability in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Pundits from every point on the political spectrum are going to be talking in grandiose terms about government benefits programs and healthcare — both to whip up their own supporters and also to depress their opponents’ supporters. This isn’t to say that we as a nation do not need to have a frank and diverse discussion about the problems of social security disability in North Carolina and beyond. But the kind of politically-charged atmosphere in which this public debate takes place can be pretty disturbing, especially for people who just want to collect fair benefits, get good care, and regain a degree of certainty in their lives.

After all, say you suddenly contract a serious illness or get into a major accident. Now you need 12-plus months off of work just to recover, and your life is almost certainly topsy turvy for a diverse number of reasons. The last thing you need is to get even more scared and more “thrown off your game” by thunderous proclamations about social security’s imminent bankruptcy or what have you.

On a practical level, do understand that the operatic battle over our government benefits programs might ultimately hold implications for you, albeit extremely indirectly. But also realize that the situation is almost completely out of your personal control. So worrying about what’s going to happen is really a fruitless use of your time.

At the same time, there are actions that you can take immediately that could play an enormously powerful role in helping you deal with your challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and generally manage the chaos in your life. One of the smartest ways to go is to find useful allies – experienced resources and people who can help you understand what you might be up against, help you find shortcuts through your problems, and so forth. Michael A. DeMayo’s North Carolina social security disability law firm has generated exceptional results for clients in similar positions to yours.

Connect with the team immediately for a free consultation so that you can begin to get a handle on your opportunities and potential struggles. Start focusing on the “stuff” that could make a difference in your life and stop worrying so much about the “stuff” over which you have little to no control.

Getting Social about Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere

May 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Going through the North Carolina social security disability process can be a very lonely and isolating experience, even if you have friends and family around who are supportive — and even if you have a great North Carolina social security disability law firm, like the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo, helping you with issues like an administrative law judge hearing or a problem related to your employer or physician.

In other words, even if you have support structures in place, you can feel pretty scared and isolated.

To that end, many beneficiaries – or friends and family members of beneficiaries – find themselves often going online to connect with other people who have similar plights. It’s difficult to understand the experience of being really sick and needing government benefits when you’re not in that situation yourself. People make assumptions about what happened and what you need to do next. Those assumptions may or not be correct. But they are based on ignorance of the situation.

On the other hand, other people going through this process – waiting for benefits, getting medical care, struggling to keep afloat financially – can validate your feelings and perspectives. They can give you insight into tactics and strategies to use to make life a little easier, communicate with your doctors a little better, make better use of your benefits, and on and on.

So there’s definitely a very positive aspect of “going social” – sharing your story, sharing your struggles, helping others, getting feedback, etc.

But there is also a very clear danger of the “the blind leading the blind.” You need to be careful when it comes to revealing certain information about yourself and your condition online for security reasons and also, potentially, for legal reasons. You also need to be careful to avoid following quackish medical advice. It’s useful to validate information you get online with outside sources to see whether it’s a legitimate source of information or idea.

Wielding the double-edge sword

Getting social about social security disability has serious pros and serious cons. To that end, just use the tool with care. Make sure that you talk to your medical providers about treatment options or diets that you want to try. Be sure to check with your law firm regarding steps to take.

That said, also be willing to expand your mind and listen to different points of view. There are so many different problems associated with being on SSD, supplement security income, or other government benefits programs. The “hive mind” is often very good at solving nitpicky details that other sources of help might not address or might not even recognize are causing you pain and problems.

More Web Resources:

Using social media wisely

North Carolina Social Security Disability – The Price of Not Knowing

May 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Why is the quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability so stressful? Why does it keep you up at night? Why are you fretting about the results of your administrative law judge hearing, reconsideration, or other action?

You might default to the obvious answer: you need money. You’re worried because you want to secure benefits to pay for your medical care and pay for your life. That’s all well and good – you definitely need money to support yourself and your family during this crisis. Perhaps you’ve been in financial straits before – or operated in an uncertain environment – and you found it to be hugely stressful. For instance, maybe back when you started working, you had no idea whether you’d receive a promotion or not, and that was stressful. But the stress of that in no way could compare to the stress of your fight for disability benefits. Why?

One reason is that your illness or injury has compromised your ability to work and earn money. And that’s scary. Because if you are out of a job, or you’re not getting promoted, or you’re struggling with credit card debt, your problem is strictly financial. You can always, theoretically, find a new job, get a mentor, or otherwise increase your earning capacity. But when you are sick and injured – and potentially at risk for more health problems in the future – this loss of earning capacity is particularly scary.

The second big reason why it’s scary is that you’re being held in limbo. If you got a call tomorrow from a bureaucrat who told you that there was no way on earth you would ever receive North Carolina social security disability, you’d probably be upset and would rightfully rail against the unfairness of this. But, as the days or weeks went by, you would come to terms with the unfairness of the system, and you would find another way to meet your meet needs. Life would go on, and you would manage somehow.

On the other hand, when you are in limbo – when you have no idea whether you’re going to get the benefits or not – you are spending a lot of time focusing on the pros and cons of different outcomes. Your brain has a very difficult time letting it go. And this causes stress and panic – the vast majority of which is counterproductive, because stress and panic do not help your outcome unless they are connected to positive action.

So where are we all going with this? The answer is essentially this: Whether you work with DeMayo Law or another North Carolina social security disability law firm, you need to give yourself a break. Recognize your challenges, and realize that clarity is needed for you to enjoy true stress relief.

More Web Resources:

Why uncertainty causes stresses

How to overcome uncertainty

Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Quest: Defining Your Values and Vision

May 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Earlier this week, we talked about how North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) can gain tremendous leverage by defining and understanding the purpose of their quest. If you know why you want benefits, you can be far more methodical and efficient in how you obtain them – and you can often tap into deep reservoirs of emotion to motivate you to push through obstacles.

Today, we’re going to talk about values and vision. What are the values that you want to govern your North Carolina social security disability push? And what’s your vision for success? Let’s take these questions one at a time.

Values

Here’s a quick, handy way to determine your values for any kind of activity, courtesy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. You simply think about outsourcing the entire task to another person or organization. Then you think about what kind of rules you would want that person or organization to abide by as they work for you. For instance, whether you outsourced a job to an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm (like the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo) or a magical social security disability fairy, here are some values that might be important to you:

•    Stay ethical – don’t violate any laws
•    Give me the most money possible
•    Complete the process as quickly as possible – I don’t want to drag this thing on for months or years
•    Keep me involved at every step of the way, so I can correct the course if need be
•    Make the process as simple as possible.

You get the idea. Basically, you want to define the parameters that govern your quest. You can do this for yourself by imagining the rules of conduct that you would impose on someone else.

It’s very helpful to write down both your values and your purpose for any activity, especially a potentially long and involved process like the quest for North Carolina social security disability benefits.

Vision

Your next step is to get very, very clear and concrete about what you would like to achieve in the future. There are many different ways to define success for your quest. It could be to maximize your benefits. It could be to minimize your stress. It could be to just get some money, so you can get this whole thing “off your plate” and focus on recovering from your illness/injury. Every person is going to have a different vision for success. So the clearer you are about your vision, the more likely you will be to achieve what you want. You can then communicate this vision with people who help you. For instance, if you connect with a law firm and you tell your legal allies, “Success to me means getting as much money as possible, and I don’t care how long it takes or what I have to do to succeed,” then your attorneys will take certain steps to help you. On the other hand, you will take a different route if you tell your allies, “Success to me means getting this done with as soon as possible. I don’t care if I don’t get the maximum amount. I just want to over and done with.”

Getting clear about your purpose, values, and vision can give you a kind of magical clarity and reduce some of the uncertainty and stress you feel – which in turn can help you focus more on healing, dealing with your financial problems, and managing the injury/illness-related chaos in your life.

More Web Resources:

Defining your values, per David Allen’s Getting Things Done system

Coming up with a clear vision for your ideal outcome

When North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits Are Just Not Enough

May 10, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The fight for North Carolina social security disability benefits can be vicious and frustrating. But even after you’ve gone through the gauntlet and secured a stipend, you may discover that the benefits do not cover your costs.

This can be intensely frustrating.

After all, there is nothing worse than pushing very hard toward a goal – hiring and retaining a top-caliber North Carolina social security disability law firm, such as DeMayo Law, during your quest – only to arrive at the other side of that goal without your fundamental problems solved.

Understanding the purpose of your North Carolina social security disability

Wherever you are in the process – whether you’re just starting out exploring your options, or you are confronting reconsideration or the administrative law judge hearing (ALJ hearing) – take some time right now to get reconnected to the purpose of these benefits. Why will this money help you? What will a successful outcome mean for your life, work, and budget? It’s important to connect to purpose – not just for some pie in the sky “let me lead a spiritually focused life” baloney. When you have your purpose concretely identified, you can often find otherwise hidden options for achieving that purpose – shortcuts toward your goal. You can also, perhaps more importantly, stop doing things that you might otherwise do out of habit.

I want to get North Carolina social security disability …

#1. So I can keep the lights on and stay in my apartment instead of having to move in with my sister.

#2. Because my family depends on me to bring in some money so that we can meet our monthly budget.

#3. Because of the principle of the thing – I paid in so much to the system already, so I deserve to get some money out.

#4. Because I only have six or eight months left to live, and I want to have some money so that I can enjoy myself and not worry about penny-pinching – so I can travel and see friends, for instance.

Do you see how these various purpose statements lead to different tactics and strategies? Obviously, you then need to connect your purpose to your goal in some fashion – we’re going to get to that in a post later this week. But just for the moment, spend some time examining what’s motivating you to search online for answers, look for help, and fight hard for your rights.

For instance, if your ultimate goal is to spend more time with your family, and you only have a few months left to live, your time may be better spent with your family instead of fighting a long and taxing battle with government bureaucracy.
If your goal is to achieve compensation and justice at all costs, you may need different tactics and strategies.

More Web Resources:

How to define the purpose of an activity

Why purpose can constrain and improve your choices

Wishing You Were Sicker, So You Could Get North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits Easier?

May 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You are desperate to resolve your North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits problems. You want/need money to run your life, pay for care, and support your family during these trying times.

In your yearning, you may become surprisingly jealous of people who are sicker/more injured than you are. As we discussed in a recent post on the Compassionate Allowances program, 5% to 6% of the approximately 3 million people who apply for a Social Security Disability every year in United States get “fast tracked” to benefits because of the severity of their conditions.

Obviously, on some level, you are glad that you are not as sick as someone who has a terminal cancer or some other horribly serious ailment – who can be fast tracked to Social Security Disability benefits. On the other hand, you are dealing with a serious issue, yourself. You would like a little more respect for the pain you are in and the financial stress you are under. It’s no fun to wait in line, no matter who you are or how healthy you feel. It’s even less “fun” to wait in a queue if you are extremely financially pressed and also sick and confused.

Part of what might be motivating your jealousy of these other beneficiaries is the chronic uncertainty in your life. Without better information or a “yes or no” verdict on your benefits question, you are left in a kind of permanent limbo. This uncertainty bleeds into every aspect of your life, work, rehab, and relationships.

So what do you do? How do you make some sense out of your situation? Are you just simply going to have to let the process play itself out?

You need not fight the system alone. A Social Security Disability law firm in North Carolina, for instance, can help you understand your needs, your options, and your potentially surprising resources. Avoid getting sucked into destructive emotions like jealousy, overwhelm, frustration, and fatigue, and then take positive, directed action to get you to your goals faster.

Connect with Michael A DeMayo and his team today for free help.

More Web Resources:

The Compassionate Allowances Program

When you are Being Jealous of Someone Who is Sick

Social Security Disability in North Carolina: Is a Collapse Imminent?

May 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Ask any given expert about the solvency of Social Security Disability in North Carolina and elsewhere, and you will get an array of answers. Most pundits will tell you that our government benefits programs are in relatively poor shape. But some policymakers believe that we only need to make subtle, incremental changes to these programs to avoid massive disruption. Others crow about doomsday scenarios. There is no shortage of speculation with respect to social security’s future problems (or possible solutions).

But what if the system DOES “collapse”? What would that mean for you, if you are someone who depends on North Carolina Social Security Disability to pay bills and survive – or you are a caregiver for someone who needs government support?

First of all, understand that a worst scenario is probably pretty unlikely. Second of all, you should also understand that no one can effectively predict the outcome of a social security type collapse – a major failure of a massive cornerstone of the American bureaucracy. There is really no precedent in history.

Odds are, if something really bad happened to the Social Security Disability system, that failure would not be the only problem we would be facing – we would actually probably be dwarfed by many other problems. In other words, if six months or four years or 20 years in the future, you turn on CNN and you see Wolf Blitzer or his next generation counterpart blathering about a social security collapse, that’s not going to be the only problem! This isn’t to say that a massive Black Swan event couldn’t afflict social security or another big government program.

The reality is that the components of our social security system are so diverse, so complex, so vast, and so byzantine that no individual expert – no collection of experts, even – has any real deep understanding of what failure might mean or how it might occur. There are just too many variables. So just recognize that, while it can be intellectually entertaining to dream up farfetched catastrophic schemes, this exercise is only useful really for people who are building and trying to protect the system as a whole. They are not very useful for people who are actually sick — who actually need Social Security Disability benefits to survive.

Your time is much, much, much better spent worrying about your own financial situation, understanding how the rules might or might not apply to you, and working with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, to ensure your rights.

More Web Resources:

Doomsday Scenario about Social Security

Another Doomsday Scenario about Social Security

How the “Adult Baby” Might Impact North Carolina Social Security Disability

May 31, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On May 20th, The Atlantic ran a web story that’s frivolous in tone but that may have ultimately a pretty interesting impact on North Carolina Social Security Disability.

“The Adult Baby Is Our Best Hope to Fix Social Security,” written by Associate Editor Derek Thompson, discusses the hilarious and sad case of 30-year old Stanley Thornton, Jr., an adult man who dresses and acts like a baby for fun.

Mr. Thornton, Jr. was recently featured on the A&E show Taboo. After his appearance on the show, investigators realized that the man had been collecting Social Security Disability insurance, even though, in Thompson’s words “Stanley can determine appropriate behavior in public, drive himself around, start a website for other adult babies, and ‘custom make baby furniture to support a 350 pound adult.’” Republicans – Senator Tom Coburn in particular — lashed into Thornton, Jr. for collecting disability when he is clearly an able-bodied man.

If you are someone who really needs North Carolina Social Security Disability to survive, you might feel miffed by a comparison to Mr. Thornton, Jr. It’s clear that the debate over SSD reform is only beginning to heat up. One of the most affecting moments in Mr. Thompson’s piece in the Atlantic is a graph called “All Social Security Disable Beneficiaries and Current Payment Status, December 1970 through 2009.” This graph shows a really disturbing spike in the rates of disabled workers, widows, and adult children. Starting essentially in between 1985 and 1988, the rates sloped upwards and upwards. In 2009, the total number of disabled beneficiaries had more than quadrupled from 1970.

What can explain this massive rise in disabled workers?

Well, clearly something in our environment has changed. Many people blame cultural shifts – for instance, maybe we have been just getting lazier and more indulgent collectively. But that’s a really kind of dissatisfying answer, isn’t it? Are we really that much different, emotionally, socially, and otherwise than we were back in just 1970? It seems far more likely that there is some other prominent environmental factor that’s causing this.

One controversial, but possibly likely explanation is that we’ve radically altered our diets, and our shift towards a low fat, high carbohydrate and high sugar diet — as enshrined in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid — precipitated not only an obesity and diabetes epidemic, but also an epidemic of workers who are sick and injured because they are not getting appropriate nutrition. Hence the SSD and SSI crisis! This obviously is a radical and controversial point of view, but it boasts a surprisingly significant amount of objective evidential support, as science journalist Gary Taubes describes in great detail in his 500 page book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Do you need help with a benefits issue? If so, connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to discuss your possible options.

More Web Resources:

The Adult Baby Is Our Best Hope to Fix Social Security

Gary Taubes

While You Wait For Your North Social Security Disability Appeal: Staying Motivated and Happy

May 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness – or if you suffered a grievous injury that’s going to keep you out of work for a year or longer – you may qualify to start collecting North Carolina social security disability benefits.

But going after SSD (or supplemental security income – SSI) is often far more vexing and complicated than applicants first realize. Some very legitimate, deserving people can find themselves caught up in a seemingly never ending appeals process. This lengthy limbo can make an already stressful situation practically unbearable. You need money to live and support yourself and your family – and to get good medical care. But you have to wait – seemingly indefinitely – for an answer as to how much North Carolina social security disability you will be able to collect.

Good news: there are almost always “short cuts” to these problems. One of the most obvious and useful is to retain the services of an experienced and powerful North Carolina social security disability law firm to help you work through the appeals process, explain the system to you, and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

You can also talk to financial planners, reach out to social support networks, meditate, exercise, eat better, reflect on your life, and “do special things” for yourself that you’ve long put off – such as vacations, spa treatments, et cetera. But to attain a deeper sense of calm, you may want to avail yourself one of the oldest “tricks in the book”: writing stuff down. Getting your frustrations, confusions, and anxieties out of your head and on to paper (or a computer Word document) can be surprisingly empowering in a remarkably short period of time.

One interesting phenomenon which many people who do this exercise observe: the number of things that we worry about is actually quite limited. Maybe you worry about your health, certain aspect of your financial situation, and a key relationship that’s on the rocks. Maybe you have one or two dozen concerns that are really pressing on your mind. But chances are, no more than that – at least no more “big stuff.”

Once you see everything written out, you can then “wrangle with it” in a far more effective way. For instance, one clear anxiety you may have is over your appeals process. When will the appeals finish? Will you get your money? How much will you get? Et cetera. Simply acknowledging that you have these recurring thoughts – and figuring out what you need to do about those thoughts so that you can feel relaxed and get them off your mind – we will go a long way towards giving you some sense of control – and even happiness – even in the midst of the chaos and confusion of your claims appeal.

More Web Resources:

Eat that frog

The search for short cuts in life?

Helping Someone on North Carolina Social Security Disability

May 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Do you have a friend or a family member who is currently going through the (often grueling) process of trying to collect North Carolina social security disability or supplemental security income? What can you do for that person to make him or her feel more comfortable, more empowered, less confused, and more excited about the future?

You might be surprised by the resources available to you and to your friend/relative on North Carolina social security disability. Support groups, financial planners, life planners, senior centers, local and state charities, religious groups, and community groups can all provide you with support, ideas, networks of people/companies who can help, and much more.

When you offer your care – or offer to help in another way – pay attention to the scope of your involvement. Caregivers who enter into commitments casually or without thinking them through may later find that they are resentful, guilt prone, and frustrated because they have put the needs of the SSD or SSI recipient ahead of their own.

Know why you provide the care you do; otherwise, both you and the recipient will wind up “losing” in some way. Also, don’t feel like you have to “do it yourself” when it comes to providing assistance. Yes, do the laundry, make meals, listen to the person as he or she reveals inner frustrations and dreams. But don’t feel like you have to also be the travel coordinator, logistics go-to person, or free legal advice giver.

In fact, if you take on too many roles – or specifically, roles that you are not comfortable doing or don’t have experience doing – you could cause more harm than good.

For instance, if you’re not savvy with money, you could wind up encouraging the recipient to invest with a less than qualified or even corrupt financial planner. To tackle the legal logistics, connect with a qualified North Carolina social security disability law firm to help you get clear answers about the SSD appeals process.

Don’t go it alone. In order for you to provide the best support possible to the person you care about, get the support that you need to do the job right – and with minimal stress and bother – so that you can be totally present for the other person in this time of need.

More Web Resources:

Don’t go it alone

What to say to a sick friend

Super Seniors: How Strength Training Might Save the North Carolina Social Security Disability System

May 20, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants are often frail, infirm, sick, overwhelmed, and intimidated by the benefits process.

Furthermore, entitlements are often designed to help people compensate for their weaknesses – in a best case scenario, they will “get back” to the place they were before they got sick or injured. There is not a lot of sense of “after you get through this process, you’ll be stronger and better and happier than you were before”… and that’s a shame.

Human beings like progress. We want to believe that the best of our lives is ahead of us. Imagine if North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants aimed for more hopeful outcomes: that could have a hugely positive impact.

One way to do this might be to train hurt and sick people take better care of their musculature through simple resistance training.

Studies suggest that seniors and others who strengthen their muscles will be far less likely to suffer the ravages of problems like osteoporosis, arthritis, nerve impingements, etc, etc. Getting strong is good, in other words. Resistance training may confer far more health benefits than other kinds of exercise, such as cardiovascular training or even traditional stretching modalities.

This isn’t to say that seniors shouldn’t be doing yoga or shouldn’t be going for walks with their friends. And it’s also not to say that strength training is right for everybody. But imagine if seniors and other hurt workers got the appropriate physical therapy to not only recover from their accidents/injuries but also to get stronger than they were before it happened.

In the Slow Burn Fitness Revolution, strength trainer Fred Hahn and doctors Michael and Mary Dan Eades provide powerful evidence to suggest that resistance training can help people not only to recover from problems but also to get stronger than they’ve ever been.

Of course, if you are on SSD or SSI, you likely have additional problems – you may be struggling to get benefits owed, or you may be locked in a difficult appeals process, for instance. A North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can advise you and provide knowledge, resources and tools to achieve victory.

More Web Resources:

Protein Power blog

Slow Burn Fitness

North Carolina Social Security Disability – Part of the Solution, But Not the Whole Solution

May 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

For many hurt and sick workers, the quest to obtain a fair and just resolution to your North Carolina Social Security Disability struggle can be all encompassing. You celebrate every victory, no matter how minor. And you live for the day when the appeals process is over and you can safely collect your checks. But while your SSD and supplemental security income (SSI) payments can be essential tools, they cannot replace longer-term strategic thinking and planning.

Hurt and sick workers often cannot afford – or do not know how to acquire – good help to navigate their strategic crises. Vulnerable citizens may find themselves ripped off or scammed. Alternatively – and perhaps more commonly – people can waste a lot of time and energy devising their own “strategic plans” to get better, get back to work, and put their injuries/illness behind them. When you’re sick or hurt – especially if you’re sick or hurt permanently – your resources will be limited. This means that your strategy for how you deploy them is exceptionally important – more important, perhaps, than it would be if you were healthy and had “wiggle room” to make mistakes.

In other words, irrespective of how your quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability turns out, you should invest time into acquiring resources, processes, and systems to help you get on track and stay on track.

• If you’ve never worked with a financial planner, find someone you trust and leverage his/her resources.
• If your home is a mess and you are overwhelmed by bills, work with an organizational coach and/or a bookkeeper.
• Now is the time to call on friends, family members, and even neighbors to help you sort through your issues and regain some control over your fears.
• Try not to let pride stand in your way.

If you need help with a specific aspect of the process, an established and experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can work with you to manage your appeal and iron out any legal wrinkles associated with it. By availing yourself of attorneys, planners, organizers, friends, and family, you can make more strategically appropriate decisions.

More Web Resources

supplemental security income

SSI Scams and the elderly

SSD Scam out of Connecticut has North Carolina Social Security Disability Advocates Frustrated

May 13, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you turn on your computer news feed or flip on cable news, chances are you will hear stories about how people like North Carolina Social Security Disability recipients are “gaming the system” and taking more than their fair share of entitlements.

Clearly, politicos and working citizens are frustrated with the national debt and the imminent possible insolvency of social security. It’s natural to want to scapegoat. But people who claim North Carolina Social Security Disability often are in desperate need of the funds to pay for essentials like rent, food, and health care.

That’s why it’s so unfortunate to read about stories like this one out of Danbury, Connecticut. According to newstimes.com, “a 61-year-old Danbury woman was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for illegally receiving more than $45,000 in Social Security Disability benefits.” Ms. Jean Jones (nee Jean Henley) allegedly started collecting SSD in 2002 after she claimed she couldn’t work. Unfortunately, she banked the payments and simultaneously got another job. US District Court Judge Mark Kravitz ordered Ms. Jones to repay the benefits. So…that’s that.

Or is it?

Unfortunately, when individuals try to game the SSD system, inevitably, legal problems crop up, and the system itself gets strained.

Expect more and more political blustering and handwringing over how and when and why Social Security Disability monies should be distributed. As our national and state fiscal crises deepen, we’ll collectively be on the lookout for pesky crimes like the one Ms. Jones allegedly perpetrated, and probably we’re going to have less and less tolerance of bad behavior.

That said, it’s important to be compassionate and sensitive. Who knows what Ms. Jones’ story was – why she did what she did. We live in a culture in which we rush to judgment all the time. This can be a dangerous thing – especially when we don’t have all the facts and don’t have any emotional “nearness” to the people involved.

The bigger questions are: How can we in general repair social security and other entitlement programs to make them really work? That is, how can we make them useful for people who need them but not overly draining to our state and national coffers?

Another question: what should you do if you or someone you care about needs help with an SSD or SSI situation? Whether you want to appeal a decision or you’re simply confused about how/if certain rules apply, connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm today.

More Web Resources:

61-year-old Danbury woman SSD scam

District Court Judge Mark Kravitz

Are There Too Many People on North Carolina Social Security Disability (and Other Entitlements)?

May 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A provocative April 26 Fox News story suggests that perhaps there are too many people on entitlements programs like North Carolina Social Security Disability. Here’s a quote from the Fox News report: “Last year, 18.3% of American income came from government programs such as social security, Medicare, and employment benefits and food stamps, while earned income accounted for only 50.1%, the lowest number recorded.” The Fox News story also noted that “Medicare spending is set to skyrocket once baby boomers start to retire in the coming years. Most were still working in 2010.”

Defenders of North Carolina Social Security Disability and other entitlement programs may suggest that perhaps these data are overblown. But even those who advocate for injured and sick people see reason for concern in the data. Clearly, some kind of reckoning is in the offing – but how, exactly, can we rehabilitate our entitlement systems without harming people who really need the money to survive and get better – and without putting undue or unfair burdens on people who are applying for (or appealing) their SSD or SSI decisions?

The answers are tricky.

It’s generally assumed by media analysts that one side must “win” and the other must “lose.” In other words, a victory for conservatives who want to cut the budget would be a slashing of SSD and other programs; whereas a victory for advocates of these programs would be political defeat for the “shrink the government” folks.

But does it have to be that way? Or can we collectively find “win-win” situations that can simultaneously shrink the size, scope, and wastefulness of our spending without damaging (and perhaps even improving) the quality of health care and benefits that we outlay?

Looking for a win-win may seem naïve. But it’s important at least to go through this exercise. For instance, let’s say a deep assessment revealed that some chronic force is driving up the cost of health care across the nation.

One good candidate for that force is our excess consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. If these non-nutritious, obesogenic and diabetogenic calories could be cut from the national diet – or at least pared down somewhat – then perhaps we could relieve some stresses on our benefit system. A reduction in the number of sick and diabetic patients would lead to reduced strain on our health care system. Thus, every interested party would “win.” Our budget would be leaner and slimmer; our nation’s seniors and others would be healthier; and, perhaps best of all, we could finally silence the voices on both sides of the political debate who seem bent on screaming at each other without actually working towards good solutions.

On a more pragmatic note, if you are struggling with an issue collecting your SSI or SSD – or if you need help with the appeals process – a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you explore avenues to get fairly compensated.

More Web Resources:

April 26 Fox News story on SSD

Diabesity Epidemic

North Carolina Social Security Disability Scandal – Ohio SSD Advocate Faces Fraud Charges

May 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On April 26, the Dubuque Police Department released a photo of William Joseph Murphy, a 44-year old who’s currently in Dubuque County Jail on charges of fraudulent SSD advocacy – legitimate North Carolina Social Security Disability Advocates are closely following this case.

Why so much attention on such a small case?

Answer is below…

First, a quick summary of what Mr. Murphy stands accused of. Allegedly, Mr. Murphy and his company, American Disability Entitlements, LLC., engaged in multiple incidences of social security theft. Mr. Murphy presented himself as an advocate for social security applicants for the purpose of defrauding them.

When legitimate North Carolina Social Security disability advocates read about situations like this – in which an individual or corporation steals from vulnerable people, it’s literally heart breaking.

Individuals who seek to participate in SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs often have no other means to support themselves while they’re recovering from an illness or serious injury. To strike out and try to milk money from these most vulnerable individuals is simply horrific on many levels.

More and more Americans will likely enter retirement age over the next several years (as the baby boom generation “grays”). So, statistically, it’s probably good that these kinds of SSD and SSI schemes – targeting seniors who don’t have much money to live off of – will spike.

Can anything be done to clamp down on these schemes and protect vulnerable people?

One intuitive solution: fight each new scheme as it pops up. But that might be too slow. Clamp down on one scheme, and the scam artists will design and execute half a dozen other ones before you can even say the word “go.”

Perhaps a better general approach is to “drain the swamp.” In other words, disincentivize criminals from even thinking about trying to take advantage of SSD and SSI applicants. One way to do this might be to educate applicants. Another method might be to significantly “up” the penalties for theft schemes.

Here’s another, less aggressive and more counterintuitive approach: Reduce the number of people on SSD and SSI by improving the population’s general health. For instance, if we could find some ways to reduce rates of type II diabetes, then perhaps we can reduce the number of people who need entitlements and thus limit the scam artists’ targets.

For assistance with your claim (or appeals), talk to a qualified North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

William Joseph Murphy fraud


SSD scams to watch out for

Don’t handle your North Carolina Social Security disability appeal this way…

May 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re struggling with a North Carolina Social Security disability application, here’s a clear case of what not to do…

Last February, 50-year old Louis Jerome Smith entered the Social Security Administration office in Harrisburg Mississippi and got into a lot trouble. Smith was unhappy with how administrators had been processing his claim, and he launched into a tirade. According to a report from Hattiesburgamerican.com: “Smith… threaten[ed] to assault and murder SSA employees with intent to retaliate against them for performance of their official duties.”

On April 27, Smith received a sentence in US District Court. He pled guilty to one of three counts on his indictment and got sentenced to seven months in jail and 5 months of supervised release. Prosecutors did not go after him for other charges, such as “making threats for testimony given during an official proceeding and making threats to influence a pending official proceeding.” Smith will also be required to take a psychiatric medication as a condition of his release.

On the one hand, most people will look at how Smith handled his frustrations and think “I would never behave like that for any reason, no matter what.” On the other hand, applying for North Carolina Social Security Disability can be an immensely frustrating process – emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting – and this battle can stretch over months and can be profoundly consequential for people’s lives. So obviously, you shouldn’t get angry and yell at (or, especially, threaten) SSA administrators. But if you feel frustrated or emotionally overwhelmed, that’s a very human reaction to have.

Fortunately, there are more constructive ways of managing those feelings – resourceful ways that can help you get the money you need to rebuild your life and recover your health. For instance, a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you hammer out a strategy to appeal your claim or take other actions to improve your odds of getting the results you want.

More Web Resources:

Louis Jerome Smith’s attack

Social Security Administration

 
 

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