February 2013

Surviving the Social Security Disability Journey: The Art of Creative Improvisation

February 28, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

As you move forward on your journey through the Social Security Disability process, you will encounter surprising obstacles, and, more hopefully, serendipitous opportunities to possibly improve your fortune and speed up your recovery from illness.

So how should you find these opportunities and surface these obstacles? What can you do to gain clarity on your situation and feel more in control?

One tool to use is creative improvisation.

Most Social Security Disability beneficiaries believe that their problems flow from a lack of resources — physical resources (e.g. you are too sick and tired); relationship resources (e.g. you don’t have enough of a social support network); or financial resources (e.g. you don’t have money to pay for your bills, house, medical care, etc.)

No doubt, you may have extremely limited resources. However, by cultivating your inner resourcefulness, you can often find solutions to challenges that currently seem intractable — perhaps impossible to break through.

Let’s talk through an example.

Let’s say you only have $200 a month to spend on food.

Until you get Social Security Disability benefits (if you can get them), you are strapped. You can’t afford to eat out, and you might feel compelled by your lack of resources to eat really low quality food because that’s the only stuff that you can afford.

However, if you get really resourceful and creative, you can find solutions. For instance, if your monthly budget for food is just $200 a month, that means you have just a little over $6 a day to spend on food. That’s not much, and the unresourceful person might be tempted to eat a lot of empty calories, like soda pop or boxed pasta and rice. Those foods aren’t very nutritious.

But you could get creative! For instance, maybe you could find a great all-you-can restaurant and make a regular habit of eating one very, very, very big meal a day — healthy foods, of course! (An added benefit: so-called “intermittent fasting” may have certain health benefits, especially with respect to insulin sensitivity).

Or… you could pitch a local restaurant owner on an arrangement, wherein your write very positive (but ethical) reviews of their cuisine in exchange for discounts on meals or something along those lines.

You can also tap into local food pantry programs… and on and on.

The point is that your inner resourcefulness is a powerful tool, and the more you cultivate this resourcefulness, the more you will feel back in control of your life and destiny, irrespective of what happens regarding your benefits. All that said, you probably do want to find a good Social Security Disability law firm. Please connect with the DeMayo Law team today for a free consultation by calling us at (877) 529-1222.

Big Update to Social Security Disability Compassionate Allowance Program — 35 Additional Components Approved

February 26, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Big breaking news in the world of Social Security Disability law: the Social Security Administration (SSA) has expanded its popular Compassionate Allowances Program (CAL) to include 35 more conditions, bringing the total number of conditions to 200.

Depending on the nature of your ailment and its severity, you may qualify for benefits within just days as opposed to months or longer. If you qualify for the CAL program, you can bypass the typical detailed investigative process that the typical claims applicant needs to go through.

The CAL program dates back to 2008. At first, only 50 ailments qualified for this fast track approval. The initiative has been updated multiple times since then — last April, administrators added over 50 new conditions to the short list. The collaborative process that updates this program draws upon knowledge from medical professionals, scientists, and Social Security Disability beneficiaries themselves, along with research from the National Institutes of Health.

The new disease additions include Roberts Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, aplastic anemia, adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and other serious cancers and neurological conditions. For a full catalog of conditions covered under the Compassionate Allowances program, please visit the CAL’s official website.

If you’re confused about whether you might qualify either for the CAL program or for Social Security Disability in general, connect with us for clearheaded and thorough insight into your case. The team here at The Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to provide a smart, complete and strategic evaluation of your case and give you good guidance about what to do (and what not to do) to maximize your chances for getting your claim accepted and minimizing the stresses and often needless hassles. Call us now for assistance at (877) 529-1222.

Social Security Disability Theft of $62,000 Suggests Desperate and Sad Situation…

February 21, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many stories about Social Security Disability in North Carolina and beyond focus on grand problems (e.g. will the trust fund start to run dry as early as 2016, as some Republicans now argue?). Other stories focus on the painful and horrific elements (e.g. the Compassionate Allowances program just added 35 new conditions to its list — a “who’s who” of diseases that you would never wish on your worst enemy, including an array of scary sounding neurological diseases).

But sometimes it’s the minor sounding, almost “work a day” cases, that provide the most insight.

Gavin Fowkes, a 40-year-old mechanic from Delmont, Pennsylvania, has been ordered to pay over $62,000 in restitution to his father (and serve six months’ detention) for stealing his dad’s SSD benefits. U.S. District Judge Diamond also sentenced Fowkes to five years of probation for pilfering the benefits. Per the Tribune Review, Fowkes somehow arranged it so that his father’s checks got deposited into his account. He engaged in this low level thievery for seven years, until authorities figured out what was happening last September.

Judge Diamond applauded Fowkes’ “acceptance of responsibility” and cited his “lack of a criminal history” in the relatively light sentencing.

As much as the story reveals, it also leaves so much unsaid. Why would this man steal his own father’s Social Security Disability benefits? What kind of pressures or stresses might lead someone to do that? What was the relationship like? What’s the relationship like now, if it exists? And so forth.

The broader point is that fights over Social Security Disability benefits can often lead to all sorts of very fraught interactions with close friends and family members — and damage even close, trusting relationships. To protect yourself from these financial-stress-induced problems in your life, first you need clarity with respect to your claim. With more knowledge, you can make more accurate decisions and plan your finances more mindfully — so you can avoid having to make spontaneous and potentially dumb (even illegal) decisions regarding your income needs.

Call DeMayo Law at (877) 529-1222 now to set up a free, confidential consultation with us regarding your benefits situation.

Private Detective Indicted on Social Security Disability Fraud Charges

February 19, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s all too easy to judge Social Security Disability fraud defendants from afar.

If you are sick, and you desperately need benefits yourself, you may bitterly resent anyone who “cheats the system,” while you struggle to make ends meet while following the rules.

But many fraud cases are subtle. Studying them can help you understand what to do better (potentially) with respect to your North Carolina Social Security Disability claims process.

Consider the complex and sad case of 45-year-old David M. Disney (no relationship, it appears, to Walt Disney or the Disney Entertainment Company), who was indicted in January by a Federal Grand Jury for conspiracy to commit Social Security Disability fraud. Mr. Disney is a private detective who suffered a head injury back in 2003. He applied for Social Security Disability shortly thereafter. He succeeded with the claim and started collecting monthly payments. In spite of his ailment, however, he returned to work at his old company, DM Disney & Associates. He continued to work in violation of his arrangement — he was paid for doing surveillance for clients and for testifying before the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for a different client.

Disney wasn’t exactly raking in tons of money. And starting in 2007, he told the Social Security Administration what he was doing — that he was working again for $10 an hour, working 20 hours a week. All told, he logged 150 hours and earned just under $20,000 for doing so. Nevertheless, his acceptance of $140,000+ in benefits over the years  may have constituted fraud, and now he faces a possible battery of punishments, including but not limited to forced restitution, jail time, probation, and so forth.

The point of the sad story is that, as a potential beneficiary, you really need to play by the rules and to understand both your rights AND your responsibilities. Even seemingly innocent — or totally unconscious — mistakes can create problems for you, years down the line. These subtle issues can throw off your financial planning, endanger your profession, elevate your stress levels, and cause embarrassment and injury to your reputation.

Go through the process correctly. Get the help you need by connecting with the DeMayo Law Social Security Disability law team today at (877) 529-1222 for a free consultation.

Does It Feel Like Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Case is Taking Too Long? (Perhaps You Need to Slow Down!)

February 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

You are sick, injured, and finically desperate. You want your North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits to kick in right away — yesterday, if possible.

While a savvy and thorough social security disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, can help you with the process, including advocating for you at Reconsideration or an Administrative Law Judge Hearing, no law firm can work miracles. You may have to wait weeks or even months for clarity about your benefit situation.

Those words can sound harsh, but that is the reality for some claimants.

So what should you do to make the waiting period less agonizing and uncertain?

On this North Carolina social security disability law blog, we talk a lot about the importance of embracing uncertainty and of using various self-reflection tools to surface and eliminate sources of anxiety and frustration. For instance, in past blog posts, we have talked about using the Five Whys, journaling, and leveraging the insights of mentors to strategically address some of the “stuff” that makes would-be beneficiaries so anxious.

But if you really want to speed up time — to bypass the waiting period and press fast forward on your life — please stop and reconsider. Try this other strategy. It’s going to sound trite at first, but don’t dismiss it off hand.

Focus on your blessings.

What are the blessings in your present life? Forget about your pain, destitution, uncertainty, and anger for a minute, and contemplate all the joyous things in your life right now. If you’re pessimist, your first instinct might be to say “all my joyous things have been taken away by the accident/illness.” But if you’re comfortable, ask yourself to dig a little deeper. Your eyesight is good enough to read these words. Your brain is healthy enough to understand the concepts being presented to you. If you haven’t yet found a good attorney, the DeMayo law firm is just a click or phone call away. If your case hasn’t been decided yet, you have at least an ember of hope that you will collect benefits — and perhaps much more than that. Even if you have a fatal diagnosis, you can still give thanks for the air that you will breathe for the time that you have left on this planet. By focusing on what you have — instead of what you lack — and doing so repeatedly and consciously, you will slow down the pace of life and also enjoy the journey towards collecting benefits, even if this was a journey you never wanted to go on.

This counterintuitive advice is well worth repeating: when life feels too slow, slow it down EVEN MORE and smell the flowers.

3 Tips for Working Better with Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Law Firm

February 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re on the verge of retaining a social security disability attorney to help you cut the Gordian knot that has become your SSD claim. You are just too tired, sick, and overwhelmed with the bureaucracy — trying to parse the “should’s” from the “should not’s” with respect to your claim — and you want a trusted, experienced entity, like the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, to lead you to clarity and protect your ability to collect benefits.

What “best practices” should you follow while working with a social security disability attorney or law firm? Here are 3 ideas:

1. Be honest, forthcoming, and fully disclosing.

You may have a checkered medical history or other issues regarding your past jobs, personal history, or whatever. You may feel reticent — perhaps even deeply ashamed — to reveal this information to anyone, even an attorney in confidence. But do NOT hide key information from your lawyer. If you fail to disclose key facts — for instance, maybe you were convicted of healthcare fraud as a young man or woman — and your lawyer doesn’t know, then you can accidentally crush your hopes of getting benefits. Protect yourself by being honest.

2. Got a question (or many questions)? Write them down!

Throughout the claims process, you will no doubt encounter dozens, even hundreds, of questions. Instead of calling the attorney’s office every hour in a haphazard fashion, write down the questions on a word document or in a notebook, so that you and your legal team can process them in an organized fashion. Document your journey — over document, if you need to. Doing so will keep you focused, give you peace of mind, and help you work more seamlessly with your team.

3. Ask for diverse help.

A good social security disability law firm can not only help you with the nuts and bolts of your claim but also with diverse and dynamic problems related to your claim.

For instance, maybe you’re having trouble finding a good doctor or financial advisor to see you through this difficult period. Maybe you don’t have any friends or family in the area to advise you. You’re not the first person who has gone through this experience, and your law firm should be able to connect you with many different types of resources in your local community (in Charlotte or wherever) to get clear headed answers.

How Can You Make the North Carolina Social Security Disability Experience Slightly Less Dreadful?

February 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Your injury would be horrific enough in its own right. But now you also need to jump through hoops to collect minimal Social Security disability benefits? It all seems downright cruel. Given your extremely limited strength, time, attention and resources, what can you do to make a positive difference, both in your life generally and in your quest for benefits?

First off, if you haven’t yet connected with an attorney or Social Security disability law firm in Charlotte, please consider doing so to protect your rights and to identify potential problem areas with your claim. The team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo is available for free and confidential case consultations — call us now at (877) 529-1222.

Beyond that, you can also adopt changes to your lifestyle and diet to fix your metabolic issues and help you manage seemingly indirectly related problems, such as stress, depression, and so forth.

Cutting out junk food — and focusing on food quality

You’re sick, injured, and financially hard up. Right now, you’re just “trying to get by.” The idea of improving your diet somehow may not even be on your radar screen. But if you’re eating a lot of junk food — especially sugary stuff like cola, desserts, and other snacks that have a lot of easily digestible grains and starches — you might really give consideration to improving the quality of your food, not only to boost your metabolism, but also to improve your attention span, mood, blood sugar control, and beyond.

Determining what foods are “healthy” and what foods are “junk foods” is not necessarily so simple!

Even if you commit to eating a diet that’s “healthier,” you must wade through a lot of conflicting information. A new non-profit organization, the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), is funding research to help answer these questions in a more definitive fashion. But you might be surprised to learn that bacon — one of the most stereotypically “sinful” foods — is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids as well as stearic acid and essential amino acids. One can perhaps build the case that bacon is actually a health food, believe it or not.

Conversely, other research suggests that soda pop might be more than just a source of empty calories. It could actually be a cause and perpetuator of insulin resistance in liver — the starting point of a cascade of metabolic issues, including diabetes and obesity.

Different people have different needs, regarding both their health and their Social Security Disability concerns. Talk to your physician before making any kind of changes to your diet and exercise regimen. And take time to research the true nature of a healthy diet.

3 Tragic Mistakes Many North Carolina Social Security Disability Applicants Make

February 5, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Applying for Social Security Disability should not be rocket science.

Unfortunately, all too many mental and physically ill people in North Carolina and beyond make basic mistakes that vastly complicate their claims and lead to lots of stress and frustration. Here are three very common ones.

Mistake #1: Based on incorrect assumptions about your health and/or income generation capacity, you fail to investigate your claim at all.

If you make $700 or more per month, you will generally have a hard time collecting benefits. Likewise, if you haven’t paid much into Social Security, and if you don’t have much of a work history, your road to benefits gets harder.

All that said, odds are high that you are overlooking important details about your claim. Furthermore, even if Social Security Disability benefits remain out of reach, you may be able to tap into other resources or programs to solve your problems.

Mistake #2: You get discouraged by your first rejection and fail to appeal vigorously.

The Social Security Disability process is multi-tiered. In an ideal world, your claim would go through seamlessly and rapidly on the first try. But you can still win on appeal, and any money you collect will still be good legal tender in the United States! Please read more about the various types of appeals, including Reconsideration and the Administrative Law Judge hearing, here on our website.

Mistake #3: You wait far too long before getting legal representation.

Since you’re already financially bereft, you may believe that you should just “represent yourself” to maximize how much you’ll collect. This calculus intuitively appeals. But — statistically speaking, at least — it’s wrong. Claimants tend to do better — i.e. collect more money overall and feel more certain and satisfied with their outcomes — when they find good legal representation.

Of course, not all Charlotte Social Security Disability law firms are equally up to the task of helping you succeed. Please consider calling the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a consultation with our experienced and helpful people.

Three Little Words to Super Charge Your Quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability

February 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Buckle your seatbelts. You are about to learn three extremely powerful words that have the potential to completely shift your ability to meet your social security disability goals, whether you live in North Carolina or anywhere else in the union. These three words are going to surprise you at first. But hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you will come to appreciate massive power that they can yield. Ready? Here they are:

“I. Don’t. Know.”

That’s right. “I don’t know.” Get used to saying these words, because they have the power to unlock your frustrations and help you find the help you need.

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

North Carolinians are proud people – often very independent. North Carolinians often wait way too long before asking for help with their problems. When struggles are allowed to “marinate” in your life, they beget more troubles. Productivity experts often implore their clients to “surface” these deep obstacles instead of allowing them to be buried and cause chronic psychic, physical, emotional, and financial stress.

The trick is, in order to surface what’s holding you back, you need to find the gaps in your current approach. In other words, you need to know what you don’t know. Otherwise, how will you solve your problems?

For instance, say you are experiencing a constant annoying twinge in your right knee due to your accident/illness or perhaps due to something else. You haven’t talked to your doctor about it. But you notice it constantly. In order to find relief, you need to surface the obstacles preventing your knee from feeling better. You need to ask yourself questions about what’s bothering you, until you get to a place where you fundamentally say “I don’t know.”

For instance, you may have been to half a dozen specialists already, all of whom have given you different diagnoses and different methods to treat the pain. Yet, so far, you haven’t felt relief. You might ask yourself: “why haven’t the doctors been able to come up with a consensus and an appropriate treatment plan yet?” And your answer should be “I don’t know.”

Now, at least you have a sign post – a way to “flag” the critical gap in your knowledge. You can then talk to other people in your life about that core problem: what’s at the root of the failure to diagnose?

Alternatively, maybe you have had the twinge in your knee for months, but you’ve refused to go to the doctor about it. In this case, you will need to ask yourself questions about why you haven’t yet gone to the doctor. Totally different core constraint!

The general point here is that identifying the gaps in your knowledge (or beliefs) is critical to resolving your problems. And surfacing those obstacles begins with having the courage to say “I don’t know” and then the stamina and self respect to connect with resources that can really help you, such as a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

The Power of Admitting That You Don’t Know

Surfacing the hidden obstacles in your way

Too Many Chefs in the North Carolina Social Security Disability Kitchen

February 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Your problem isn’t that no one wants to help you with North Carolina Social Security Disability. It’s that too many people are eager to jump into fray and offer you “expert” advice. Think about it. Whether you’re struggling with a Social Security Disability appeal, administrative law judge hearing, reconsideration, or some other legal problem; or whether you just “getting initiated” into the vocabulary of Social Security Disability, you’ve likely already received dozens of opinions – some, no doubt, quite impassioned – about what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, whom you should trust, whom you should ignore.

All these conflicting opinions can create residual stress and a lingering sense of uncertainty, much like filmy, chalky taste you get in your mouth after eating a fresh piece of spinach.

And that’s just advice you get from friends, family members, doctors, government officials, and other concerned “real” people. When you go online, the “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” syndrome gets amplified by an order of magnitude. Everyone on the Internet seems to be an expert at everything.

Trying to cut your budget so that you can afford Social Security Disability in North Carolina? If so, you can compare thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of websites devoted to the topic of cutting your budget.

Want help identifying the obscure medical problem that compelled you to go on social security disability? No doubt, you can find forums online of like-minded patients.

We all have opinions. You might think that all this information would be a good thing – and, in certain circumstances, it can be. But the stew of conflicting opinions creates massive, potentially insoluble, problems for you. You can’t spend your entire life listening to people’s opinions; you have to take some action. On the other hand, any action you take might violate advice you’ve gotten from some other (ostensibly trustworthy) “expert.”

So in the end, you get analysis paralysis – overwhelmed by options, so you do nothing instead of the wrong “something.”

The way out of analysis paralysis is to take action and start moving forward. This isn’t to say that you should be impulsive. But if you’re confused, a great place to start is to try out a free consultation with a highly reputable North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Way Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen

An Expert…Or Just Pretending To Be One?

Humility and the Quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability Solutions

February 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In the urgency of your quest to resolve your North Carolina social security disability crisis, you can be forgiven for wanting a “quick cure.”

•    You face daunting, massive long-term financial challenges. You can’t bear to see your bank account continue to dwindle away, week after week.

•    Or maybe you’ve got a debilitating and deteriorating medical condition. You may only have a few more weeks or months to deal with the chaos in your world before your injury or illness temporarily (or perhaps even permanently) incapacitates you.

•    Or you might be panicked because you’re rapidly running out of legal recourse. Perhaps you’ve gone through the gauntlet of reconsideration, administrative law judge hearing, and other “fun stuff” that North Carolina Social Security Disability system has thrown at you.

Given these desperate times, you may be driven to accept grandiose, half baked promises of outside help. When we are in pain and in trouble, we want to be able to trust the munificence and hospitality of others. But other people – whether they are well intentioned or not – are also limited. We all have our biases. We all have a limited understanding of the various resources and tools out there that might be useful for you.

The point here is that, in your rush to cling to an outside authority – even a top tiered North Carolina social security disability law firm – resist the temptation to abandon your autonomy and good judgment.

At the same time, do ask for help! Remember, there is no shame in admitting that you don’t understand something. Indeed, if researchers, policy makers, and medical professionals told us “I don’t know” just a little more often, we would probably have a lot more trust in these experts. We could probably make significantly more progress towards resolving our conditions, solving our financial problems, and getting our lives back on track.

More Web Resources:

It’s about time authorities told us “I don’t know” way more often.

Humility is a sign of strength

The Pied Piper Syndrome and North Carolina Social Security Disability

February 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What on earth does the fable of the Pied Piper have to do with Social Security Disability in North Carolina?

Surprisingly, a lot.

As you may recall, the Pied Piper is a legend that likely originated in Germany in the Middle Ages. It concerns a mythical piper who rids a town of rats by enchanting the vermin with music from his pipe. When the villagers refuse to pay for piper’s services, he gets his revenge by similarly enchanting the village’s children away from their homes.

In many ways, the Pied Piper is a tale of misplaced trust. Sure, the piper may be able to blow beautiful music: but what are his ultimate intentions?

Individuals struggling with Social Security Disability in North Carolina and elsewhere are easy prey for Pied Piper-like “savior figures.” It’s not just the scam artists and schemers you need to be concerned about. Well-meaning authorities can also wreak havoc on your life. For instance, perhaps you are sick and in desperate straits. You can no longer afford insurance or your regular doctor. So instead you go to a psychic healer why lacks credentials and a medical degree.

The homeopathic healer may do his or her best to treat you – there is no ill intention – but the poor medical treatment can nevertheless substantially increase your challenges.

There is an even more insidious danger lurking!

Some resourceful people may get a lot of things “right”: they may offer you very specific, actionable, scientifically-based assistance. But then you might grow to trust that person or entity so much, that you will unquestioningly follow every single piece of advice that that person or institution puts out. Not so smart! No one’s got “everything” figured out.

The solution to the Pied Piper problem is to cultivate critical thinking skills. This can be difficult to do, no matter your station of life. It can be extraordinary challenging to keep an open, critical mind when you are knee deep in issues of life and death and financial solvency.

Your best protection against the Pied Pipers of the world is your web of relationships. For instance, if you develop a relationship with a responsible, results-proven Social Security Disability law firm in North Carolina, you will improve your odds of getting better results.

More Web Resources:

When experts bite off more than they can chew

The tale of the Pied Piper.

The Madness That Is the Debate Over North Carolina Social Security Disability Reform

February 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Do you have the answer to how to reform Social Security Disability in North Carolina and elsewhere in the U.S.?

Hopefully, you answered “no” to that question. The concept that any one person – or even one institution – could “solve” a crisis as big as Social Security Disability is laughable on its face. It would be like expecting one person to figure out how to colonize Mars, in nitty-gritty detail. The breadth and depth of the knowledge that you would need would make you the smartest person who ever lived a million billion times over.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t powerful ideas out there – even ideas that can fundamentally change the system for better (or for worse). But there is a BIG difference between proposing solutions (or hypothesizing the causes of problems) and asserting that you “know” the answer is the only and best one.

The culture of Social Security Disability reform in North Carolina and elsewhere is essentially a swamp of competing egos. Read articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or in the blogosphere about Social Security Disability reform. You will find extremely inventive, creative, logical thinking. But what you won’t find a lot of is humility.

Opinion writers, pundits, policy wonks, lawmakers, and other “A list players” are often partisans more than they are rational problem solvers. The common methods that we use to frame the debate – debates on talk shows, editorials and magazines, etc. – create this corrosive intellectual atmosphere. The atmosphere makes it seem like solving a crisis is an all or nothing deal. Your solution is right; the other guy’s is wrong. But the main problems of Social Security Disability are complex. Perhaps multiple solutions exist…or maybe none do!

Complex problems are extremely hard to solve, if not impossible to solve, using conventional tools of logic, math, science, etc. It’s understandable why we wouldn’t want to try to wrangle them. But when we boil things down too much – when we try to squash a complex problem like SSD reform into a simple binary problem – we are proverbially banging a round peg into a square hole, so we shouldn’t be surprised if and when the fit is terrible.

For help getting through your crisis, connect with an intelligent, compassionate, well-engineered North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Going way, way, way beyond what the science tells you

Is the Obesity Epidemic the Cause of the Stress on the North Carolina Social Security Disability System?

February 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Social Security Disability system in North Carolina (and elsewhere) is often dysfunctional (to say the least). Bureaucratic incompetence is surprisingly and sadly nearly ubiquitous. And even though you can find some powerful and respectable North Carolina Social Security Disability law firms to help you and your family recover and meet your financial challenges, the future for this government benefits program often appears surprisingly dim.

But what’s the root cause of this fiscal crisis?

As we’ve discussed previously, theories abound. For instance, knowledgeable pundits have argued that decisive demographic shifts have placed massive new burdens on social programs. You could summarize this as the “blame it on the baby boomers” theory. And there is certainly evidence to suggest that our increasingly “top heavy” demographic profile is playing a role.

Other theories abound. They include exhortations against the indolent (“back in the day, North Carolinians worked through pain – they didn’t ask for handouts!”) This theory is obviously less than empathetic. We can have a debate about as to whether the fundamental constitution of the American character has changed (or not). But it’s hard to see how simple shifts in our attitudes about responsibility could have created the fiscal mess we’re embroiled in.

But rather than reanalyze these various theories, let’s consider the elephant in the room: the obesity/diabetes epidemic that has swept up North Carolina and the rest of the United States (and most of the “civilized” world, as well.)

Let’s say there be no mistake: Obesity, in of itself, costs $147 billion per year. And that does not factor in the cost of diseases and conditions associated with obesity, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and probably dozens, if not hundreds of other ailments.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, if we manage to solve our obesity problem, we could probably fix Social Security Disability in North Carolina and elsewhere. Moreover, if we could fix the obesity epidemic, we could make massive progress towards reducing burdens on our economy. With so many people overweight and sick, is it any surprise that our state and national economies are going through such turmoil?

Conversely, can you imagine the massive positive changes to our economy and to our benefits programs, if we figured out how to cure obesity. It would be incredible – one of the most defining events of the new millennium.

More Web Resources:

Can we fix our economy without fixing the obesity epidemic?

How much does obesity cost America every year?

North Carolina Social Security Disability and the Definition of Insanity

February 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a Social Security Disability beneficiary in North Carolina (or elsewhere), you have probably spent months, if not years, trying to advocate for yourself in the system to collect benefits, make the government bureaucracy “work for you” and solve deeply entrenched personal and financial problems. Maybe you’ve had some success. But odds are, you have also struggled.

It may be worth your time to ask: Why?

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again, and expecting different results, what have you been doing again and again that’s been causing you to fail, again and again?

This is a basic – some might say “super obvious” – question to ask. But it’s a critical one. What behaviors, habits, beliefs, relationships, etc are setting you up to fail?

Before you even begin to assess that question, you might put up your hand and say something to the effect of: “I am not failing because of bad beliefs; I’m failing because of bad luck or an out of the blue catastrophe.” Indeed, you might be. Life is inherently unfair and unbalanced. It is all too easy to fall victim to “black swan” events that, out of nowhere, completely change your health, career path, opportunities, and existence.

At the same time, you are almost certainly engaged with (or swamped by) beliefs, habits, relationships and behaviors that are exacerbating your struggles or causing new ones.

Teasing apart true “bad luck” from “bad luck that you bring upon yourself” is tough!

If our misfortunes all arose because of our own misbehavior or misalignments or what have you, then the fixes would be pretty simple. You would just find out how and why misalignments occur in your life and “plug the dike” by, for instance, changing your fundamental subconscious beliefs or by getting out of bad relationships, etc.

But it’s not always that simple. Mishaps can waylay the best prepared travelers. A very healthy, robust woman on a fast track career path can contract a terrible microbial illness while on a Caribbean vacation and lose the use of her legs and be forced to wear a colostomy bag for 10 years. She might have been doing “everything right.” But fate has a funny way of messing up your plans. It would certainly not be fair to blame her “bad beliefs” for her debilitating illness.

The reality is, we may never be able to tease apart the root causes of our problems. How did a bad habit or bad relationship contribute to or cause our grief? How did the twists of fate play a role? Who really knows?

What we CAN do, however, is to take better action based on a clearer perception of the current reality.

In other words, forget for a second how you got into the hole that you are in right now. Focus on describing your current situation in vivid, objective detail. Only then — by beginning at the truth — can you identify a path to success and find the will to forge your way forward.

A North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help with your journey.

More Web Resources:

The Definition of Insanity

Black Swan Events

Stopping What Isn’t Working to Save Social Security Disability in North Carolina

February 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you are a patient desperate for North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits to pay for healthcare, food and groceries, and other basic expenses; or you are a policymaker desperate for solutions to the massive medical crisis that is Social Security Disability, you have two basic options:

1. You can start doing things that work (or work better).

2. You can stop doing things that aren’t working.

As Americans, we are programmed to focus on number 1.

We want to find a better mousetrap. America is an entrepreneurial nation. Thus, we like to think that we can invent our way out of our problems by coming up with new things: New medications, new ideas, new innovations, new partnerships, new strategies.

New, new, new, new.

That’s all fine. New is great. But new can also be time consuming, fraught with risk, and pregnant with surprising challenges. As Jim Collins lays out in his book, Built to Last, successful companies – which often innovate like crazy – often must experiment with many different models and different strategies and ideas before hitting on the right course of action.

In other words, if you are someone on North Carolina Social Security Disability (or a policymaker who wants to save Social Security Disability), you may need to go through a lot of botched attempts – metaphorical “plane crashes” if you will – before you can hit upon good answers to your problems.

On the other hand, it may be more economical to find out what ISN’T working now and to cut that stuff out of your life, ASAP.

On a macroscopic level, to address the SSD policy challenges, we might ask: what departments, programs, commitments, and strategies are not working – not performing up to snuff? Why are they not performing well? What’s the root cause of the failures or the lack of results?

On a personal note, probe to find out what’s causing not just your medical crisis but also your financial crisis, your crisis of confidence, your crises with your personal relationships, etc. Instead of trying to run away from your problems, look in the mirror.

What can you stop doing?

There is another good reason why “stop doing bad stuff” is a superior strategy to “do better/newer stuff.” As someone who is sick and on the financial brink, you don’t have a lot of time and energy to expend. You need to find fewer things to do, not more things to do.

Fortunately, stopping bad habits is more intimidating in theory than in practice. You can find a flourishing and diverse literature online and elsewhere to guide you through the practice of IDing and exorcising bad beliefs.

Cool “back of an envelope” exercise to get you started…

Write down the three biggest problems you are having right now with your SSD crisis.

Take 15 minutes on each problem and just ask yourself “why?” Why are you having this problem? Whatever answer you give, ask “why” again. Why are you having that underlying problem? Keep drilling down. Ask yourself why, again and again, to find the root cause. Counterintuitively, amazingly, just doing this exercise on your three biggest problems (15 minutes each) should lead you to amazing insights.

For more help, connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work Anymore

Using “Why” Questions to Drill Down

Four Books to Help North Carolina Social Security Disability Caregivers – Book One: Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

February 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Caregivers responsible for attending to North Carolina social security disability recipients are often put through the ringer.

You give love, kind attention, and physical and logistical support to someone who is extremely debilitated or even fatally ill. This effort consumes tremendous energy and spirit. Even if you are committed to helping the North Carolina social security disability beneficiary, and you are fueled by love and passion, you may find your motivation as a caregiver begin to flag.

To that end, this blog will introduce you to four exciting resources to help you understand new ways of thinking about your problems and deal with the challenges that caregivers all too often face on a daily basis.

Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

Ricard was trained as a scientist in France. In his early adult hood, he became fascinated with mindfulness meditation, and he traveled to Asia to study with Tibetan monks and other mystics. In Happiness, Ricard discusses his journey of overcoming his own inner demons and finding happiness. He also explores the scientific underpinnings of how regular (non-denominational) meditation structurally changes the brain and, quite literally, makes people happier.

For instance, Ricard participated in a brain scan study that highlighted the awesome effects of meditating regularly for decades (or for 10,000 plus hours in a lifetime). These brain scan studies demonstrated that the long-term meditators were “objectively” happier than the rest of us.

If Ricard and his colleagues are correct, then meditation can help people suffering in all sorts of situations – including suffering difficult work as a caregiver.

For more grounded and actionable advice about how to deal with financial troubles, such as a social security disability appeal, connect with an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Amazon review of Matthieu Ricard’s Happiness

Instruction on the science and practice of meditation

 
 

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