October 2013

This Bureaucratic World and Your Disability

October 13, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Getting a chance to get up to date on the happenings of the world can be a laughable dream these days.  With everything that we seem to pack into a day, if you don’t hear about it while pouring your morning coffee, making lunches or quickly grabbing a bagel you just don’t need to know it, right?  Well, as you are aware news and events continue throughout the day while we’re steadily watching the clock on our desktop creep closer and closer to 5:00.  People who do have time to stay up on current events—we call them journalists—see big events but relaying that to you and how that could parallel to your disability claim with the Social Security Administration is somewhat more tedious.

To get the heart of it, an Arizona prison is facing an ever tightening budget and sacrifices and appropriations come to the forefront of discussion in an eye-opening way.  Ultimately, prison employees have been forced to cut back on necessities while the budget for prisoner perks is adhered to in a frivolous manner.  It may sound ridiculous to those of us who work day to day just to put food on the table and clothes on the kids, but the red tape that smothers any government decision produces laughable results that leave most of us confused and frustrated.  The red tape can best be described as requirements that one government body have deemed appropriate regardless of budgetary concerns.  The other line items on the budget that are considered requirements such as the essentials for prison employees do not have the same protection.  This could be due to an assumption that is so obvious that no congress person would even consider it necessary to write into a budget.  The result, however, is a pathetic excuse for meeting a budget and the obvious consequences can be detrimental.  What does that have to do with the price of eggs in China?  Well, who knows, but it does correlate to how your disability claim may be approached with the Social Security Administration.

These same bureaucrats use a similar methodology in determining the status of your eligibility for disability benefits by “running it through the system.”  Don’t be surprised if the disability that prevents you from working and providing for your family doesn’t meet the SSA’s requirements.  What’s important is to force the Administration to see your disability in a vacuum.  This is your disability.  Your life and circumstances and you shouldn’t be compared like a piece of data to the hundreds of other people who apply in various cities in North Carolina.  If you’re having trouble with the Social Security Administration, you’re not alone.  Contact an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo and get started on the right track.  Call us at 877-333-1000 or even check out our website for more information.  Our website is www.demayolaw.com/.com.   

Social Security Disability Nightmare: Collection Agency Tells Paralyzed Vet That He “Should Have Died” — All While Illegally Seizing His Wife’s Benefits!

October 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Every once in a while, you come across a story about a North Carolina Social Security disability situation that’s so blood boiling that it makes you question what’s become of our society.

Such is the case of Michael Collier, a U.S. veteran who suffered massive head and spinal trauma while defending our country – trauma that left him 100% disabled. Adding insult to surgery, a debt collection agency, Gurstel Chargo, recently froze Collier’s wife’s credit union account and then seized $6,000 from the account over Michael’s defaulted college loan – a loan that he had not been able to keep paying because of his 100% disability.

As any North Carolina Social Security disability law firm will tell you, collection agencies cannot seize disability benefits. When alerted to this at a hearing, the lawyer for the collection agency acknowledged that the money would be returned to the Colliers “right away” — but then the agency allegedly did something so horrifically misanthropic that it’s painful even to rewrite the words in this blog.

Allegedly, right after that hearing – the lawyer called up Mr. Collier and sneered that he would have to file a lawsuit to get the money back, knowing full well that the debtor and his wife lacked means to retain an attorney. In a later conversation with an employee of Gurstel Chargo, an employee told the Army veteran “F— you! Pay us your money! You can’t afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces your a– if you would have served our country better, you would have not been a disabled veteran living off Social Security while the rest of us honest Americans work our a– off. Too bad; you should have died.”

Although the Gurstel Chargo has said that such statements, if uttered, would have been “contrary to the policies, practices and values” of the company — and that they would take urgent disciplinary/corrective action — that may not be enough. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collection agency cannot use harassing/abusive language during an attempt to collect a debt. It’s illegal, not to mention unethical and, quite frankly, disgusting.

Even if your situation is not as dramatic and heartbreaking as Mr. Collier’s, you likely have a tremendously difficult road ahead. Fortunately, you do not need to fight your legal battles on your own. Connect immediately with the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo to schedule a free consultation withae member of our team. We can help you understand your options and make sensible, strategic choices to shield your rights and get fair treatment.

Will Social Security Disability Be Affected by the Presidential Election?

October 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s coming down to the wire here in the North Carolina and elsewhere, as Governor Romney and President Obama battle to become the 44th President of the United States. What will the election results mean for North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries? More specifically: Will the reelection of Obama — or the new election of Romney — in any way substantially change the federal benefits program in a way that impacts your life?

No one has a crystal ball, so we can’t conclusively say anything. However, it’s highly unlikely that the election will massively change the Social Security disability program, at least in the short-term, in a way that radically upsets your life, for better or for worse.

Obviously, pundits on both sides of the aisle will try to make the case that “their guy” will help the program, while the “other guy” will hurt it and thus cause you pain. There’s not enough space on this blog to even identify all the arguments and counter-arguments on both sides, let alone address them or refute them at any meaningful level of detail.

That being said, people who spend their time thinking about the Social Security disability program — and helping beneficiaries like you make the system work for them — understand that big federal programs are not easily changed or modified. That’s for better and for worst.

What it means is that, if the pundits have made you anxious about your benefits, you can breathe a little easier. In fact, if you get too distracted by political sideshows, you might miss out opportunities to take action in your own life to radically improve your financial outlook, medical situation, and even at level of happiness.

This isn’t to say that you should ignore your benefits issues. (And if you’re struggling to make headway with an Administrative Law Judge hearing, Reconsideration, or any other point of the process, the DeMayo law team can offer you tested guidance.) Just recognize that you have limited time and energy, especially now that you are sick or injured.

Use your energy and time wisely. Spend time doing things you love, improving yourself, understanding your condition better, reaching out to friends and family, etc. Don’t waste it worrying about whether events that you cannot control might have some incremental influence on your financial situation 5 or 10 years into the future.

Being Young and on Social Security Disability in Charlotte or Elsewhere

October 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Picture in your mind someone who’s on Social Security Disability in North Carolina.

Whether you conjured up a man or woman, you likely pictured an elderly person, likely struggling with multiple medical conditions, such as Type II diabetes and joint and back problems. Odds are, you did not picture an ill (but otherwise vibrant looking) 30-something or 20-something. But thousands of young people in North Carolina and elsewhere need and receive North Carolina Social Security disability benefits, and thousands more apply for these benefits every year.

After all, any worker at any age can get seriously sick or fall ill.

Sadly, however, the stigma of asking for help – particularly help normally associated with older Americans – can drive needy, perhaps even desperate young North Carolinians away from taking positive action.

It’s not a sign of weakness – rather a sign of strength.

You might fear that applying for benefits will lead you to be harassed, mocked, or otherwise humiliated. Or maybe you’re just worried about being further isolated from your peers, who are out cavorting at bars or raising families. Understand that seeking help when you’ve been waylaid by serious injury or illness is an act of courage, and you should be commended.

Also, understand that your challenges may be far less daunting than you realize.

The hardest part about getting help is accepting your current reality. The second hardest part is identifying how you want your world to change in light of this new information. You clearly want to obtain benefits, dispatch with your medical issues, and get your life “back on track” – whatever that means.

•    So what does your most positive outcome look like?
•    What resources do you need to get there?
•    Can a North Carolina Social Security disability law firm, like DeMayo law, help you deal with questions about your benefits or struggles with an insurance company?

Although you may feel victimized, now is the time for you to act in precisely the opposite way – act as someone who has agency, intelligence, independence and power to do what’s needed to change your life and circumstances.

The Charlotte Social Security Disability Puzzle: Where Do You Begin?

October 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Your mission to collect Charlotte social security disability is anything but simple. Indeed, the number of projects associated with your benefits quest alone could probably fill an Excel sheet or two. Let’s just review some of the personal crises that might be ìtop of mindî for you right now:

•    You are worried/scared about an upcoming verdict on your social security disability case at reconsideration or administrative law judge hearing or elsewhere in the process;
•    You are financially overtaxed and under supported, and you’re genuinely concerned about how you will pay the rent and keep the lights on over the winter;
•    You’re an emotional wreck because of all the financial and physical stresses – and because you haven’t been getting the kind of support that you hoped you would get from the system or even, frankly, from friends and family;
•    You’re fighting an important and very difficult physical battle against an illness or potentially debilitating medical condition;
•    You’re overwhelmed by the amount of information out there about social security disability in North Carolina and beyond, and you don’t know whom to trust or even how to move forward.

It’s easy enough for the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo to recommend a simple strategy like ìjust call us, and we’ll take care of everything.” But you know that your problems are far too diverse and deep seated for any one person or one institution to solve immediately, even if that person or institution can provide excellent support.

So the question before you is: how can you begin to corral your problems and move in the right direction? In other words, you’re probably less concerned with solving everything right away than you are with making sure that you’re taking the necessary requisite actions.

So how do you get started, exactly? What’s the best way to organize your approach?

Schools of thought about this abound.

Some experts suggest that you should ìjust get started doing somethingî and then refine your approach as you gain experience and get feedback. Other experts suggest that you need to plan effectively, prioritize, and husband your resources. In other words: be strategic and focused.

1.    There is compelling evidence to support both general philosophies – the ìready, fire, aimî approach and the ìbe super strategicî approach.

You don’t necessarily need to choose between them!

You cannot strategize and dither forever, or you will never get anything done. Likewise, you cannot simply take action randomly and hope to achieve your goals. So combine these two methods through an iterative process that gives you feedback. In other words:

1.    Set a strategic course for what you will do next to deal with your social security disability problems;
2.    Then take some informed, responsible action forward.
3.    Engage in that action for a while.
4.    Then stop and assess your progress using objective measures and an independent review, if possibly. For instance, if you have a North Carolina social security disability law firm working for you, talk to the members of your legal team to assess how you’ve been doing.
5.    Then restrategize and go through the process again.

Alternate between taking decisive action and reflecting strategically, and you will pivot more effectively towards success.

Your Understandable Anger When Other People Break the Rules for Social Security Disability

October 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re someone who really, desperately needs North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits. Or perhaps you’re a caregiver or a close family member of someone who is in major need.

If so, you may be simultaneously heartened by your potential to collect much needed benefits – according to one recent estimate, the average payout over a lifetime could be around $300,000. That’s no small amount of change! At the same time, you may have read reports like a blistering expose recently published in Forbes, which suggest that one out of every four Social Security Disability cases between 2006 and 2010 did not get carefully scrutinized.

The Senate’s “Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations” report – culled from 18 months of analysis and data mining – found that many benefits requests got approved ìwithout properly addressing insufficient, contradictory, and incomplete evidence.î

This new report has, unsurprisingly, touched off a political firestorm. On a personal level, the implications could be pretty devastating. What if you don’t collect Social Security Disability benefits because the government arbitrarily decides to ìclamp downî on you and does so unfairly. Or what if your legitimate claim gets rejected, while someone else’s flimsily compiled claim gets accepted? It’s a tough pill to swallow.

One key – and this is kind of a universal truism for dealing with problems in life, not just problems with North Carolina Social Security Disability – is to consider your own problems in a vacuum. You would never compare your body with the body of a supermodel or your income with Bill Gates’ or Warren Buffett’s. So don’t compare your SSD struggles with someone else’s. Instead, focus on what you can do to positively affect your world, and do your best to let go of the negative ruminations and envy and other unpleasant emotions. Focus on positive, tactical, and strategic steps that you can deploy to get to where you want to be; over the long-term, this frame of mind will pay off, both economically and even spiritually.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Reform: Lessons from Greece, Part II

October 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Do we need to reform the social security disability system ASAP?

If we fail to do so, will we “wind up like Greece”? That is, will our inaction in the face of fiscal crisis decimate our economy, our credibility in the world market, and our capacity to right our own ship?

These questions intrigue, and they are pregnant with political implications. The debate over the reform of federal benefits programs, such as social security disability, Medicare, Medicaid, student loan programs, etc often devolves into partisan bickering. Frustratingly, this bickering gets couched in the language of science and policy. All the squabbling leaves the average North Carolina social security disability applicant confused and flustered.

What are we supposed to do, as individuals and as a society, to make the system “work”?

Sure, there may be parallels between Greece’s situation and ours, but how relevant are those parallels, and what practical lessons can they teach us? Even more importantly: if you’re struggling with an illness, should you pay attention to the broader political debate, at all? Or should you focus exclusively on your own situation and leave the “big picture thinking” to others?

Here are a few counterintuitive lessons from the “Greece situation”:

1. Most people believe what they want to believe and then shoehorn in “facts” to fit those pre-conceptions.

If you want to believe that Greece’s disaster portends a similar US disaster, you’ll find parallels that support that conclusion. Conversely, if you believe that there is no relationship between Greece’s economic turmoil and our own, you’ll find facts and experts who will support you.

When it comes to big picture political thinking – where your opinion doesn’t really matter that much – this confirmation bias is all well and good. But when it comes to your own health and wellbeing, you need to be very careful to avoid fooling yourself. That’s why it’s helpful for beneficiaries to speak with an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm, like DeMayo Law.

2. Life is always pregnant with crises and opportunities: To handle yourself with grace, focus on what you WILL do, not what you won’t do.

Regardless of your thoughts on Greece’s relevance to our entitlements dilemma, understand that the nature of your focus can influence not only what you see but also what you do. When you focus on getting a positive result, you’ll be more attuned to resources and people who can help you achieve that reality. Conversely, if you’re struck in a cynical point of view, you might miss important help that could make all the difference.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Reform: Lessons from Greece (Part 1)

October 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a two part series, the DeMayo Law North Carolina social security disability blog will examine a common “meme” in the political world. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been mulling over the “situation in Greece” and wondering what the situation in the Mediterranean might portend for the United States’ government benefits programs.

We won’t get into too much detail regarding the background: even a basic historical overview of what’s happened recently in Greece would take 20 to 30 pages. But suffice it to say that the Mediterranean nation — which was once the central powerhouse of the western world — is struggling mightily with debt accrued, at least in part, because of an overextended program of entitlements. The country’s economic productivity is not sufficient to pay off Greece’s committed obligations to protected groups, such as retirees, state pension owners, students, etc.

This budgetary imbalance is complicated by the fact that Greece belongs to the European Union, an economic and quasi political confederacy that maintains its own currency but lacks a cohesive nationality. Economically stronger nations in the European Union, such as Germany, are sort of being put in a position of having to “bail out” the economically weaker nations, like Greece and Spain.

To curry favor with the EU, governments in these nations have tried to impose so called “austerity measures” to clamp down on benefits and thus stop the downward economic spiral. But these measures have not gone over well, and some recent protests have turned violent.

Many pundits in Europe and elsewhere worry that the United States might be headed down a similar path to the one that Greece is on. These pundits want to enact reforms to Social Security Disability and other government programs to stave off the disastrous end game that we see playing out in the Mediterranean today.

•    On the one hand, advocates of this theory can draw many compelling parallels between our situation and Greece’s situation from several years ago.
•    On the other hand, we are taking about two very different kinds of economies, so it’s not just a simple apples-to-apples comparison – it’s more like apples-to-coconuts.

The differences between the two entitlement-related “crises” are important, potentially vitally so, if we want to make the most effective reforms possible.

In Part II, we will talk more specifically about what Greece can teach us about social security disability reform. Until then, if you need help with your case – getting benefits, fighting at Reconsideration or at an Administrative Law Judge hearing – get in touch with the DeMayo Law team to discuss your options.

More Tips for Caregivers of Charlotte Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

October 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re a caregiver for someone on Social Security Disability in North Carolina, your life can get quickly out-of-control. Even the most mindful of us have a limited attention span. When we devote hours of our day to helping other people, we can feel a certain kind of grace and gratitude, but we can also accidently let our own needs fall through the cracks. In our last post, we discussed what caregivers can do to attend their own needs more effectively. In this post, we’re going to provide some tips for taking care of others in a compassionate way.

Tip #1: Avoid “taking it personally.”

When you give care to a close friend or a family member, the experience can lead to the arising of many emotions and thoughts, some of which may be disturbing or unpleasant. For instance, say you’re taking care of an elderly parent who’s been ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease or some other degenerative disorder. The experience of caring for a helpless person who once cared for you can be confusing in many ways. Plus, sometimes people who are sick or ill or otherwise disturbed can lash out and “say things” that can hurt your feelings. Again, your watch word should be compassion – pay attention to these feelings and thoughts, and understand that they are normal. Try to let the guilt, shame, and fear go and embrace the positive thought that you are doing something profoundly positive and wonderful for another human being in distress.

Tip #2: Get organized!

Care giving is hard enough – with all the appointments you need to remember, the doctors names, prescriptions, phone numbers, emergency procedures, etc. It can be infinitely harder if your personal systems are disorganized or in disarray. Just like new parents must get superorganized to create “their nests” for their kids, so too should you “get organized” to create a more pleasant environment, so you don’t forget appointments or let your needs go unmet.

David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system provides a great general overview of how to increase your productivity.

Tip #3: Resolve any benefits questions ASAP.

If the person you’re caring for has not yet secured Social Security disability benefits, talk to the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo to discuss your options. Our team is patient, compassionate, and thorough, and we can help you move forward effectively.

Tips for Caring for Someone on Social Security Disability in North Carolina or Elsewhere

October 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether your mom was just diagnosed with cancer or some other terminal illness, or your spouse or good friend just lost her job after an injury, you know someone on Social Security Disability in North Carolina who really needs help.

You want to be a compassionate, generous caregiver. At the same time, you need to protect your own needs for health, well being and financial solvency. In this article and one that follows, our North Carolina social security disability blog will provide a slew of ideas to help you at multiple stages of this process.

Tip #1: Avoid “going it alone.”

Far too many caregivers take on way too much responsibility way too quickly and wind up feeling bitter, resentful, and overwhelmed. Even small “stuff” that seems like it should be easy to do can quickly overload you. For instance, say a person you love has an Administrative Law Judge hearing or Reconsideration for Social Security Disability coming up. Rather than doing the prep all yourself, consider connecting with a Charlotte social security disability law firm to avoid mistakes.

Tip #2: Establish your ground rules early on.

What will you or won’t you do for the person who needs help?

You need to think this through before you get started. You need to be clear with the person – and with yourself – about your own limitations. If you need to work to support your husband or children, you must make sure to meet that need while providing care. One way to “surface” the values that might best govern your interaction is to do the following exercise. Open up a journal and spend 5 to 10 minutes writing down the instructions that you would give to someone who had total dominion over this caregiving process. What would you tell that person to do and/or avoid doing? Those are your values, and you should hew to them.

Tip #3: Introspect and pay attention to yourself.

It’s easy enough to enter into “emergency mode” when someone you love desperately needs help. And there are some times where you just don’t have time or space or energy to “introspect.” For instance, you might need to take the person to an emergency doctor’s visit or to stay up all night with him or her and talk about feelings or something along those lines.

Do what you believe needs to be done.

But ALSO budget time and mental space to check in with yourself.

Rest or meditate for 15 minutes a day, for instance, and/or write about your experience in a journal and then re-read that journal periodically (at least once a week), so you can get a deeper intuition for what your inner voice is telling you. Don’t sacrifice your own needs. Ironically, when you pay close attention to your own needs, you would be more likely to give better, longer, more compassionate care.

Is 2018 "Armageddon" for North Carolina Social Security Disability?

October 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As if North Carolinians did not have enough problems on their minds with the specter of a second “great recession” on the near horizon, recent figures suggest that the social security disability insurance program (which serves North Carolina and the other states) is running out of money…and fast.

According to a recent article in the McClatchy Newspaper, Disability Benefits Program On Unsustainable Financial Path: “at the current growth rate, the SSDI trust fund, which pays for benefits, won’t have enough money to meet its obligations in 2018.”

Observers point to an array of statistics to show the program’s dire straits. For instance, back in 1990, only 3 million recipients took money from the program. In September 2011, by contrast, 8.7 million injured workers collected more than $1,000 a month from the program. Critics of SSD also point to facts such as this one: “among new [beneficiaries] in 2010, more than half cited back pain or mental problems, like depression or mood disorders, as the disabling injury, compared with just 26% of such claims in 1965.”

Critics will admit that other problems may be draining the system and causing SSDI to “burn money” faster and faster – problems like the graying of the baby-boomer generation and an anemic economy. One key underlying message of the critics, however, is that hurt and injured people themselves are to blame for their medical straits.

Critics suggest that Americans are not planning effectively. They are becoming more and more dependent on the system to provide sustenance and protection. This story is so vivid and so widely accepted among many North Carolina social security disability critics that it is difficult to begin to talk about the fundamental problems from the context of a different paradigm.

But a different paradigm may be in fact just what we need.

In fact, in recent best selling books like Protein Power, Wheat Belly, and Why We Get Fat, journalists and doctors have powerfully argued that changes to our national dietary habits may have indirectly caused incredible stresses on our benefits programs, including SSD. Americans started to consume an unhealthy diet full of processed refined carbohydrates and wheat products and sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup. As a result of these unhealthy eating habits – pushed in part by an institutional edifice that feared fat more than sugar – Americans are now suffering crippling rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. And these diseases – indirectly caused by bad nutritional advice – are at the root of at least some of the current benefits program problems.

Of course, there is always a possibility that these nutritional critics are wrong. But if they are correct, or at least partially correct, then the logic of their findings suggests that the problem does not necessarily lie with a weak willed or over-entitled populous but rather with a misled populous.

Interesting food for thought, at least.

For help with the specific case, connect with a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Wheat Belly

The impact of sugar on our healthcare crisis

Productivity after North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 28, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The critics of programs like North Carolina social security disability often talk about beneficiaries if they are all sitting around at home, plotting how to “not work” and “suck off the system.”

Is this a fair assessment?

It’s probably true that one can find numerous instances of genuinely slothful, indolent people who try to scam programs like North Carolina social security disability to make ends meet, without meeting their obligations as part of a productive society. But it’s a bizarre and scary argument to suggest that the huge increase in the number of SSD beneficiaries can be attributed solely to defects in character. Has our moral fiber really degraded that much over the past 20 or 30 years or so? Is that really the most parsimonious explanation for why so many would-be beneficiaries want to sign up for programs like SSD?

Might there be other explanations?

One obvious contributing factor is demographics. As the baby-boomer generation gets older and retires, many of the people in this “population bulge” will come to rely on government benefit programs to pay for rent, food, healthcare, etc. So at least some of the increase in the number of beneficiaries is purely a result of this demographic shift. It has nothing to do with anyone’s innate character or constitution (or lack thereof).

Environmental causes of medical problems might also lurk, as we conduct our forensic investigation to uncover what might be stressing the North Carolina social security disability system. For instance, 20 years ago, very few Americans were on drugs like antidepressants and anti anxiety medications. Over the past 20 years or so, however, Americans have turned en mass to medications like SSRIs and insulin secretagogues to treat conditions ranging from ADHD to diabetes to depression. The fundamental causes of these medical problems might ultimately be to blame for why the system is so stressed.

In other words, we need to ask:

• What’s making people ADHD and depressed?
• What’s making people diabetic and fat?

Until we understand the fundamental root causes, any attempt to litigate or legislate around the problem will meet in failure because the solutions will not address the fundamental causative agents.

Here is an analogy. Say someone suffers from cancer. He or she might lose a significant amount of weight and muscle tissue as a result of the cancer. But the solution for that person is not to get that person to the gym to “build up more muscle” or to make that person eat more. (although good exercise and nutrition might certainly help.) Unless the fundamental problem – whatever is causing the cancer – is addressed, the patient will remain sick.

Consult with a North Carolina social security disability law firm to discuss your needs and possible benefit solutions.

More Web Resources:

The graying of the baby-boomer generation

The American over medication epidemic.

Is it North Carolina Social Security Disability…or Just the Illusion of “Security”?

October 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In our passion to reform the North Carolina Social Security Disability system – to ensure that hurt and injured and sick people get fair treatment – we often overlook certain fundamental constraints. Specifically, we focus on achieving certainty in our outcomes, stability in our lives and a reduction in our stress levels. By identifying and eliminating the roadblocks to your success with North Carolina social security disability, this blog and other resources like it can turn your relatively sour situation into something slightly sweeter.

Of course, whether you achieve your SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) goals and obtain a substantial stipend, or you fail miserably and obtain no compensation after expending tremendous effort, many battles lie ahead of you.

There is no way to eliminate uncertainty from your finances, your health, or any aspect of your existence. Uncertainty is more or less a permanent attribute of being human. Moreover, the size and scope of your benefits won’t necessarily correlate with your satisfaction.

Surprised to hear that?

Consider this line of argument:

One might expect that the more Social Security Disability benefits you can collect – and the more those benefits cover your core living expenses and other costs – the happier you will be and the more satisfied you will feel about the experience of being a beneficiary. But substantial research into the psychology of happiness and satisfaction tells us something different. Counterintuitively, our levels of satisfaction and happiness don’t necessarily correlate well with what we have or what we lack – unless we lack so much that we are forced to live below subsistence level, in which case the correlation becomes more robust.

This isn’t to say that the quest for fair, ample, and long-term benefits is not noble or necessary. But it does suggest that, if you are looking for happiness or satisfaction with your situation, you need to look beyond the numbers and to concentrate on managing your perspective.

The attitudes you have about your injury or illness will shape and mold your happiness and life satisfaction on many levels, both conscious and below the surface. This isn’t to say that you should give up the fight – or that the fight doesn’t matter. The specifics of your legal battle to get fair benefits can matter profoundly, life-changingly. Rather, it is to say that the frustrations you face may have deep roots, and it’s worth your time to explore those roots.

For help with specific legal question, connect with a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

The Science of Satisfaction

Is your problem really “the problem”?

The Solution to our North Carolina Social Security Disability Woes Will Almost Certainly Come Out of Left Field

October 22, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

What’s the answer to the North Carolina Social Security Disability crisis?

North Carolina beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) are not the only ones who are suffering, afraid for their benefits, frustrated by the system, and riddled with doubts about their futures. Hurt and sick people across the nation are depressed by the endlessly reverberating doomsday headlines about our economy. The constant talk about “reforming” our entitlement system – often used as a euphemism for slashing benefits programs – terrifies needy people, too.

Will social security be put on the chopping block? What about Medicare and Medicaid? What will happen when the inevitable cuts befall these programs? Who will the winners and losers be? Will you be among the lucky or among the suddenly limited?

On some level, we all recognize that it’s irrational to stress out or waste time ruminating over future unfair changes to North Carolina Social Security Disability Law.

On other hand, we can’t help but focus on the policy debate. And so we listen to experts on podcasts, talk radio, and cable news to give us some glimmer of insight into the complicated mess that is our national and state entitlement system. These prognosticators often diagnose the ills of the system very well, but their solutions tend to be mired in present day thinking. That’s not necessary a bad thing. But consider that, historically, many of our most entrenched and impossible seeming problems – problems that stumped the experts of the day – were finally solved by outside forces — so-called “bolts from the blue.”

Consider the New York City traffic crisis of the turn of the 20th century.

Go check out some old newspapers from New York City around the year 1900 or so. If you do, you will read a never ending slew of editorials fussing over the “horse traffic problem.” Horses were everywhere in New York City, trampling pedestrians, piling up massive piles of manure everywhere around the city, and generally wrecking havoc. No one knew how to solve the problem, but everyone agreed that it was the end of the world. Suddenly, along came Henry Ford with his Model T, and in just a few short decades, horse drawn transportation was little more than a nostalgic memory.

The moral: we are not licked yet. You never know where the next amazing insight will come from that may have the power to transform the North Carolina Social Security Disability system for the better.

More Web Resources:

New York City Horse Traffic Problem

Paradigm Shifts Tend to be “Bolts From The Blue”

A Primer for North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries: Cataloging Your Needs

October 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post on the trials and tribulations of North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries, we discussed how “prideful” SSD applicants often make self-destructive decisions because they desperately want to regain control over their lives. In these situations, they are willing to sacrifice resources – to reject the help of friends and family members – to preserve autonomy.

What other “unmet needs” might be causing you distress?

As a North Carolina social security disability beneficiary (or would-be beneficiary), you likely face a “full house” of emotions. If you analyze these emotions and looked at the fundamental needs behind them, you might be surprised at the progress that you can make. Here is a short hand for some feeling/need combos:

Example #1

• Stimulus: ALJ hearing gets postponed, surprisingly.

• Feeling: Anger, frustration, annoyance.

• Underlying need not met: Clarity and resolution about the uncertainties created by the case.

Example #2

• Stimulus: An acquaintance says something to the effect of “social security beneficiaries are all lazy freeloaders.”

• Emotional reaction: Anger, humiliation.

• Underlying need not met: Respect and to feel like you are contributing to society in a positive way.

Example #3

• Stimulus: A great conversation with the representative of a North Carolina social security disability law firm, where you get many frustrating, urgent, confusing questions answered in plain language.

• Emotional response: Joy, relief, calm, possibly elation.

• Needs met: Empathy, clarity, and need for outside help from competent outside sources.

More web resources:

Understanding the Role of Feelings and Needs In Your Life

Why Certain Feelings Might Indicate Hidden Needs That You are Not Aware Of

The "Pride Problem" and North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries often struggle with the “pride problem.”

It is not that SSD beneficiaries don’t want support or help or resources or opinions. But when friends, neighbors, and possibly even children ask questions or offer opinions or services, SSD beneficiaries may demur out of propriety or pride.

In a twisted sense, this is an act of empowerment. The basic principles of human psychology suggest reasons why someone who is hurt or sick enough to need North Carolina social security disability might turn down sincere offers of help from friends, family members, and other resources. When you’ve lost your health, suffered financial setbacks, and experienced other bad news, you need to regain control over your environment.

The human need for control is a very central and powerful need.

When we lose the ability to make decisions about our care, our environment, our finances, etc., we feel agitated, angry, and generally horrible. To escape from those feelings, we often take actions that ultimately fail to protect our best interests. We may intellectually recognize the futility of doing things like telling our kids that everything is “fine” when in fact they are far from fine. But even if we recognize that our behavior is fundamentally dysfunctional, we often override our better judgment out of emotional resistance.

It’s important to recognize that this emotional resistance comes from a real, human place – and it all ties back into the very human need for control.

The question then is how to satisfy both needs – how do you meet your needs for help while honoring your need for control and autonomy? Obviously, there is not an easy answer. But if you start thinking in these terms — looking at your resistance to getting help as a dysfunctional attempt at empowering yourself — you might be surprised at the creativity of the solutions that you develop.

To get the help you need to make progress with your case, connect with a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More web resources:

The Need for Help

The Need for Autonomy

Leveraging Parkinson’s Law to Make Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Journey Easier

October 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries often struggle with time pressure.

Although you may not be working or actively engaged in exhausting activities like child care, caregiving for others, running a business, et cetera, you still face many pressures – pressures to recover, pressures to deal with difficult financial situations on a shoestring budget, pressures to manage your emotional and logistical crises, and pressures to deal with an often uncaring social security disability bureaucracy.

Given all your serious constraints, you would like to find a way to get more done faster… without compromising your care or rehab or sanity.

Enter Parkinson’s Law.

Simply stated, Parkinson’s Law is a truism about work: work fills up the volume of time you allot for it. If you give yourself eight hours to do a project, you will complete the project in roughly eight hours. If you give yourself four hours to do a project, you can probably get it done within four hours. If you give yourself 16 hours to do a project, it will take you 16 hours to do it. And so forth. Obviously, Parkinson’s Law is not the same kind of “law” as the law of gravity or anything like that. Rather, it’s a nice heuristic or rule of thumb that North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries can use to make some serious inroads into their problems.

Here is an example. Say you need a rehab specialist to help you fix myofascial pain in your extremities. You could spend a week or two weeks or even longer researching various practitioners, weighing their strengths and weaknesses, scheduling free visits, et cetera. Or you could give yourself a “drop dead time limit” to make your decision. Maybe you give yourself three or four days. You might intuit that you’d make a better decision if you take the full amount of time – the two to three weeks that you would normally take. But Parkinson’s Law tells you that you wouldn’t gain any tangible advantages.

In other words, you would have essentially the same rehab experience… whether you took three weeks to find a practitioner or took three days to find one. Parkinson’s Law is not a license to be sloppy or to lower your standards. Instead, it’s a tool to help you avoid open ended searches and to make better use of your time.

Of course, there are certain aspects of your SSD struggle that you can’t handle on your own. A reputable North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you figure out what you need to do, how to do it, and how to optimize your resources and minimize your mistakes.

More Web Resources:

Parkinson’s Law Explained

Leveraging Parkinson’s Law to Get More Done in Less Time

Social Networking Salvation for North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

October 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

How can Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking tools help North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries?

The answer is simple: These tools offer lonely, undereducated, and scared beneficiaries or would be beneficiaries a means of getting much needed support. But is there any downside to using social networking tools to research, connect, and self-educate?

Perhaps.

On the one hand, the web and social networking tools offer social security disability beneficiaries access to support groups who genuinely care and who can help struggling beneficiaries explore solutions to complex, highly specific SSD quandaries. Because the people you meet in these networks struggle with the same issues you do, they will likely give you practical, actionable, and effective tips. And even if you have the most compassionate caregivers, family members, or friends in the world, unless they are going through similar struggles, they may not ever “truly understand” the emotional turmoil you face. So Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools can relieve your sense of isolation.

On the flip side, information sharing is not without its pitfalls. These include:

• There are a lot of crackpots out there. What happens when “the blind leads the blind”? How do you ensure you are getting sound, legally correct advice?
• Scam artists abound. Individuals on social security or supplemental security income are in dire straits. Cynical con artists often take advantage of SSD beneficiaries’ desperation, and these con artists use tools like Facebook and Twitter to lure marks.
• If you spend all your time online looking for answers, you may fail to take necessary actions to heal yourself. For instance, instead of engaging in regular rehab or taking daily constitutionals, you may spend your day on the computer complaining about your SSD related problems.

For help with specific legal questions, connect with an experienced and compassionate North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources

How social media can help people who are lonely and in need.

Dangers of “too much” social media

The 80/20 Principle: A Golden Resource for People on North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are on North Carolina Social Security Disability, chances are that you are on a tight budget. You are trying to scrimp and save. You are carefully investing the assets that you retain. Whether you are just beginning the process of applying for North Carolina Social Security Disability or you’ve managed to transit through the process successfully and get entitlements to help you make ends meet, you are still coping with how to tie your life together with your shoestring budget.

The 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle) Can Help

Budgeting your time, money, and energy is all about making the right trade-offs.

What inputs can you put into your life (or any system) that will lead to maximum results? And what inputs are yielding subpar results? Surprisingly, there are always imbalances is life. Certain things you do – stocks you pick, friends you cultivate, subtle decisions you make about your North Carolina Social Security Disability application – can lead to outsized results, both positive and negative.

You can put enormous effort into certain endeavors and get ultimately very little out of all that effort. 80% of your efforts will only lead to 20% of your results on any given task. On the flip side, 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your results. This imbalance is at play in everything you do: 80/20 applies to the clothes you wear, the foods you typically eat, the people you hang out with, and how you budget your time and money.

So how do you apply the Pareto Principle to budget on a shoestring?

The answer is to identify what inputs are yielding you “outsized results” and what inputs are yielding “undersized results.” Then make changes to focus more time/attention/money on the 20% that yields 80% of your payoffs. For instance, take a look at your grocery bill. According to the Pareto Principle, approximately 20% of the things you buy will give you 80% of your nutrition. Conversely, 80% of what you buy from the grocery store will only give you 20% of the nutrients your body needs.

So what’s the irrelevant stuff? What stuff can you stop buying and still maintain a healthy lifestyle? Thinking along those lines, you might start cutting out the so-called “empty calories” like soda pop, sugary desserts, and processed snacks, chips, and breads, and instead focus on the “20% products” that do give you good nutrition: meat, vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, etc.

80/20 can, at least in theory, help you spend less on your food and extract the same amount of nourishment.

Be creative. Apply the 80/20 principle to purge your time and money budgets. Use it to identify what gets you outsized results and what gets you undersized results.

Connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More web resources:

The 80/20 Principle Defined

Applying the Pareto Principle to Your Home Budget

Do You Really Believe You Deserve North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits?

October 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On paper, you could really use North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits.

Whether you are suffering from a long-term illness that will keep you out of work for at least a year or longer, or you suffered an injury or other medical setback, you lack long-term security. You face annoying medical costs. And you may even be wrestling with emotional demons that are part and parcel of the North Carolina Social Security Disability struggle.

And although you may face logistical, financial, and other concerns, it’s the emotional ones that really rock your boat. The frustration, depression, self-blame, doubt, anxiety, panic, etc.

When you ruminate over the frustrating turns that your life has taken, you can get mired in a mindset that’s less-than-conducive to best results. Specifically, you might come to believe that you in some way karmically “deserve” your misfortune. You may not consciously say, “I brought this on myself.” But you might start to think in those terms, on a deep, inaccessible, subconscious level. And when we start to think that we don’t deserve things in life – social security disability benefits, for instance – we may engage in acts of subtle self-subterfuge.

For instance, instead of putting up a fight at an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, you may resign yourself to not getting the benefits that you want… before you even enter the courtroom. This defeated posture results in subtle but damaging effects to your ability to actually get the money and help you need. On the other hand, if you go into an ALJ hearing – or engage in some other way with the SSD bureaucracy or system – with your head held high and the right attitude, that confidence and moxie can subtly lead to good results.

This isn’t to say that you should be unrealistic or break the rules or that somehow a shift in attitude is going to solve all your problems. But attitude has a non-negligible effect.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do all the legwork and fighting on your own. A competent North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you achieve good results and make sure that you follow best practices.

More Web Resources:

How Your Mindset Affects Your Outcome

How to Impress the Judge

 
 

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