Topic: Reconsideration

After Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Victory…

March 21, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Here’s a simple exercise that, dollars to donuts, you haven’t considered doing, one that can greatly enhance your quest for Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina or elsewhere.

Open up a Word processing document (or get out your trusty Moleskine notebook) and journal on the following topic: “What would my life be like, after I’ve locked down benefits and decisively gotten on the road to healing from my injury/illness?”

It sounds like a pedantic exercise–perhaps a little boring.

But you might be surprised by how powerful this type of journaling can be. When we struggle with vexing problems, such as how to make the Social Security Disability system work, we tend to accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive (to pun on the classic song). That’s just human nature. When we get in this negative mindset, we tend to explain it away as “just being realistic.” But as elite theoretical physicists tell us, our understanding of “reality” depends sensitively on how we observe nature. Ask any serious student of Einstein’s Relativity or of the theories of quantum mechanics, and he or she will confirm: our intuitions about how Nature works are often WAY off the mark.

The point is this. When you focus on positive feelings, events, habits, and behaviors–what you would love to have in your life in the coming months and years–you can enjoy fresh energy and inspiration. This is not magic. It’s not as easy as closing your eyes and wishing your cancer or obesity into remission. But when you focus productively and proactively on good outcomes, don’t be surprised to see your behavior change and your roster of resources expand.

To that end, if you have yet to connect with a Social Security Disability law firm in Charlotte or elsewhere, please consider calling or emailing the DeMayo Law team today to set up a free consultation. We have excellent processes to help claimants like you succeed. Find out more about us online today, or call us for a free consultation at 1.877.529.1222.

When Should You “Break the Rules” and Deviate from Best Practices for Social Security Disability?

March 19, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

The average person who needs help with a North Carolina Social Security Disability claim should follow a standard set of strategies and principles — “best practices” — to maximize chances of success.

But when is it okay to deviate from these best practices? When is it more useful than not to “break the rules”? (When we say “break the rules,” we of course mean that in a metaphorical sense — you always need to follow the law or risk serious punishments!)

Different circumstances call for different strategies.

For instance, most claimants benefit from discussing their claims with Social Security Disability law firms. But some people may not need legal help. Maybe you have a gift for navigating bureaucracies. Or maybe you qualify for the Compassionate Allowances program — a special “fast track” system that allows certain very sick SSD applicants to jump the line.

Likewise, the average sick or injured person probably should sleep a lot, refrain from unhealthful behaviors, etc. But if you only have six months to live, you might decide that living without cigarettes (for example) is no longer worth the health benefits. So you start smoking. (Again, we are not advocating that anyone do that!)

The point is that you may want to modify or even throw out certain best practices based on the peculiarities of your situation.

How do you know when to deviate from best practices?

In the abstract, no one can really say.

One way to analyze this is to track your progress through metrics, somehow. For instance, maybe you want to eat a lot of junk food, even though you’re 30 lbs overweight. Ultimately, that’s your decision, even though it might not be the most healthful one. But you might hedge by tracking important metrics, such as your BMI, your triglyceride levels, and so forth, to determine how your “non-best practice behaviors” impact you.

It’s a lot easier to make decisions about what to do (and what to give up — or what to do more of!) when you understand your Social Security Disability problems in context. Let the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo educate you about your remedies, rights, and resources. Call us today for help at 1.877.529.1222.

Social Security Disability and Hypochondria: Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter

March 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’ve been feeling hypochondriacal after being diagnosed with an illness or injury that’s compelled you to seek Social Security Disability benefits (in North Carolina or elsewhere).

Whether you’re a 20 something who got diagnosed with lymphoma fresh out of college; or a recent retiree stricken with lung disease, your legitimate and real health issues may spark illegitimate and needlessly stress-inducing concerns about your prognosis.

Some studies suggest that hypochondria afflicts around 5% to 6% of the North Carolina population. Although the condition seems hokey or innocuous to people who’ve never suffered from it, it can be quite debilitating.

When a hypochondriac does get sick, the emotional situation can get seriously out of control.

Some people classify hypochondria as an obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. Methods used to treat OCD, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation and conscious relaxation, often help hypochondria sufferers. But the nature of the disorder creates an unpleasant kind of bind.

You have racing and stressful thoughts related to potential health issues — “Is this lump something I need to be concerned about?” “How come I have a pain in my side?” Etc. You may intellectually understand that you need to ignore useless or trivial signals. On the other hand, part of your brain thinks “what if this is a one in a thousand situation, and this really IS a problem? Shouldn’t I proceed, out of an abundance of caution, to treat the situation as something serious, because the consequences of taking no action are worse than the consequence of seeking reassurance from a doctor for what turns out to be nothing?”

This calculus in some ways is actually rational!

We summoned a similar metaphor recently to discuss why potential claimants should contact North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers, even when the situation seems “almost totally under control.” If your situation is that one in a thousand case that turns out to be “not so under control,” then you will be very glad you had a lawyer. The consequences of inaction in that one in a thousand situation is far worse than the slight negative consequences of action in non-situation.

We’re going to talk about practical strategies for dealing with this issue in our next blog post. In the meantime, to relieve stress regarding your case, connect with the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo today at 1.877.529.1222 for a free evaluation of your case.

Overweight and Metabolically “Screwed Up” and in Need of Social Security Disability? Read this!

March 5, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Something like two-thirds of Americans currently suffer from obesity or overweight. Being overweight puts you at higher risk for metabolic syndrome and as well as for problems ranging from obesity to cancer to diabetes. If you’re in this group, you may be so metabolically damaged that you need to apply for Social Security disability in North Carolina to pay your bills, because you’re too sick and fatigued to support yourself through work.

Obesity and the diseases that coincide with it constitute the most epic challenge facing our state and our country. Yet the conventional treatment for this problem — “just stop eating so much” — in some ways treats all obese people the same way. This one-size-fits-all solution may not be the right approach — at least for a lot of people.

According to an alternative point of view, advocated by the so-called low carbohydrate diet research community, the quality of the calories we consume matters as well as the quantity of those calories. Certain types of calories (e.g. soda calories) cause our bodies to store fat, while other calories (e.g. broccoli calories) are somehow fundamentally healthier.

The debate over the viability of this second perspective — i.e. that some calories are inherently worse than others — can get heated. Groups like the Nutrition Science Initiative (a new non-profit based out of San Diego) are trying to help us better understand what causes and perpetuates problems like metabolic syndrome and obesity.

There are several important takeaways here.

First of all, if you’ve been struggling not only with your Social Security disability benefits, but also with metabolic problems, don’t give up hope. You might still find surprising resources that can help you bust through obstacles and get results faster and more effectively than you realize.

Secondly, and to that end, if you’ve been struggling with your case — or if you’re about to confront a serious challenge to your claim at Administrative Law Judge Hearing or Reconsideration, call the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo at (877) 529-1222 for a free consultation.

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.

Rebounding After Your Social Security Disability Claim Gets Rejected

January 31, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

No one likes to be rejected. We human beings have a deep drive to “belong” — to win acceptance and approval from other people. This is true, whether you’re a 6-year-old adapting to a new elementary school or an elderly adult filing a North Carolina Social Security Disability claim.

When we’re hit with a rejection, for whatever reason, we tend to take it personally. For instance, perhaps you suffer from a terrible intestinal disease that’s made it difficult for you to work and bring in an income. You’ve seen doctor after doctor after doctor. You now take a veritable truckload of medications. And you’re still in pain, confused and scared about your prognosis. Even though you’ve suffered tangible physical harm, and you literally cannot work, you may — to your great dismay — find that your Social Security Disability claim gets rejected, for whatever reason.

That hurts on a number of fronts.

First off, you need a cash flow to pay for your medications, buy food to eat and keep a roof over your head. Secondly, you may feel greatly aggrieved at the lack of empathy for your profound pain. How could anyone who understood “what it’s like to be you” possibly reject your claim? Lastly, you may feel resentful of other people who’ve successfully navigated the Social Security Disability maze. You wonder: what did those people do differently? You may get angry at the Social Security Disability bureaucracy… or even at the person who nixed your claim.

These are normal, human feelings. But they can get in your way. Right now, you need to think less about how unfair life has been and more about your optimal steps, tactically and strategically, to get benefits and to rebuild your life.

In other words, you need to cultivate a spirit of resilience.

That can be a tall order, especially if you’re physically and emotionally run down already. But you might be surprised by how even just a little help — and a little positive news — can turn your distress around. First of all, Social Security claimants get multiple opportunities to press for benefits. If your Administrative Law Judge hearing went badly, you can still win at Reconsideration.

Likewise, even in the worst case scenario — i.e. you get no benefits at all — odds are overwhelming that you’re missing “hidden opportunities” to leverage your current resources to make your situation somewhat easier. For instance, maybe you currently live alone. But you could — at least theoretically — sell your home and move in with your sister or with a close friend.

To make sense of your possibilities, and to fight back against a rejected Social Security Disability claim, get in touch with the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo today for a confidential and thorough consultation.

Creating a “Plan B” for your Social Security Disability Claim Quest

January 24, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

You hope to qualify for Social Security Disability to collect money to pay for your bills and medical care. It’s a difficult time for you, even if you have help. The stresses of the medical treatment alone can make you feel miserable and helpless. Furthermore, your quest for Social Security Disability benefits is by no means a sure thing, even if you cannot work and you have supportive medical documentation. Some claimants wait months, if not years, before they collect benefits. Others go through a traumatic rigmarole, only to find their hopes dashed.

Even if you prevail, the uncertainty during the intermediary weeks can lead to stress, which in turn can hamper your immune system and exacerbate your illness. You need some tools to help you deal with your situation. Here’s an idea for you. Create a Plan B.

What’s a “Plan B”?

A Plan B is an alternative, secondary method of solving a problem. You begin by assuming that your Plan A fails. Then you construct an alternative scenario that meets all or most of your critical needs. For instance, your Plan A might be to succeed with your claim and get cash flow ASAP. But your needs underlying the claim might be met in different ways. For instance, you need shelter from the elements. So you may want benefits to help pay your rent or mortgage. You could find alternative ways of shielding yourself from the elements, though — e.g. move in with a friend or relative; or sell your place and buy a smaller place.

Arming yourself with a Plan B gives you a greater sense of psychological freedom. Here’s how to construct one. First, make a list of all the things that you believe that the Social Security Disability money will do for your life – e.g. pay for your medical bills, keep you in your home, relieve your financial stress, et cetera. Next, brainstorm how to address these needs, if you don’t win your case. Get creative! Then edit the brainstorming and compile your plans in a “Plan B” document to review and update as need be.

Just having this document with you will give you a boost: you’ll know that, no matter what happens, your basic needs will be met.

For help with “Plan A,” get in touch with the DeMayo Law team today by calling us or connecting with us through our website.

A Shortcut to Solving Your Social Security Disability Claims Crisis: Surfacing Your Obstacles!

December 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What’s holding you back from collecting your North Carolina Social Security Disability claim? Why aren’t you leading the life you want?

Odds are, if you dwell on those questions for 10 minutes and brainstorm answers, you’ll come up with reasons along the lines with the following:

•    The queue for Social Security Disability is too long;
•    I can’t find a law firm to help me understand my rights and figure out what to do next;
•    I’m not feeling good, and the doctors keep changing their minds about my diagnosis;
•    My friend/relatives/co-workers are far less sympathetic than I thought they would be;
•    I’m feeling depressed and confused.

These concerns all might need to be addressed. However, before you start to plough forward and try to “solve” these problems, you might benefit from thinking in a different way.

Formulating a Positive Vision: And Finding the Constraint Preventing You from Achieving It

The first step is to imagine an idealized future, one in which your Charlotte Social Security Disability crisis has been handled, and you’re in a “great place.” Get expansive here! Don’t just imagine returning to the status quo — before you got sick, hurt, or financially entangled. Picture a wonderful outcome for your life, finances, health, et cetera. For instance, you might imagine living debt-free, in a nice house, and feeling good about your body and your health. Get very specific about what you would like your future to hold. Avoid constraining yourself with analytical thinking. That can come later.

Next, give yourself some time away from the process — a few hours or days. Then come back and refine the vision with analytical thinking: build a realistic but optimistic portrayal of how you want your life to be in, say, two years from now. For instance, one prerogative might be: “I have enough money from Social Security Disability and other sources to live comfortably.”

The next stage is key. Imagine all the obstacles in your way right now. Tap into your inner pessimist. What’s the disconnect between your present life and your idealized future. Name that disconnect — specifically! What’s “stuff” — if you had it, tomorrow — would transform your present situation into that great future?

For instance, one obstacle might be the in-limbo status of your Social Security Disability claim. Once you’ve listed your obstacles, brainstorm solutions. You need not “blow through” the obstacle. You can find shortcuts around it or search for ways to alter your goal, so that the obstacle becomes irrelevant.

For instance, if your ultimate goal is financial security, and you’re constrained by your inability to collect Social Security Disability benefits, perhaps you can find a proxy for that security. Perhaps a dear relative can lend you money, or you can try to qualify for other types of benefits.

Kickstart your journey towards getting fair, accurate benefits: connect with the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo now for a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.

The Connecticut School Shootings: Forcing Us to Put Our Problems in Perspective

December 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last week’s unbelievably repulsive school shooting in Connecticut left over two dozen people dead, many of whom were children. The national horror has forced all of us introspect and put our own problems in perspective.

If you’re struggling to get Social Security disability benefits in North Carolina, for instance, or striving to compel a reckless or a negligent corporation to compensate you or your family for serious harm done, the shootings obviously don’t “take away” your problems or make your struggles any less real. However, they do drive home the point that our time on this planet is short, and the forces that work on us are often unpredictable and malevolent.

All of us are on a mutual quest for clarity. We need help from other people to understand the rules for filing a Social Security disability claim, for instance. We also need less technical and more emotional help with issues like how to deal with one’s sense of guilt and shame following a workplace injury or how to deal with tragic, epic losses that seem purposeless and just so sad.

It’s the American way to “try to fix things” by engaging in tactics — to process towards a resolution or at least towards some clarity with respect to our problems. There is definitely a time and place for action and for planning. However, there is also time for reflection. There is a time to sit back and just appreciate your blessings. Yes, you’re struggling. Yes, life has been difficult and perhaps ferociously unfair and tragic.

Yet the human spirit is surprisingly resilient.

People can bounce back from the most epic of tragedies. Witness the heroic work of people like Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, or anti-apartheid champion, Nelson Mandela, in South Africa.

It’s a sad beautiful fact of the human condition that we cannot “rewind the clock” and get back time, energy, and physical stamina that we once had. However, if we can appreciate the blessings of the present and focus on what is possible not what “once was,” then maybe we can all begin to reclaim our humanity a little bit.

If you want to talk about your Social Security disability case, please call the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free consultation.

The Crazy Chaos of the North Carolina Social Security Disability System

December 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When you read statistics about the Social Security disability system, they sometimes seem “dry.”

What does it mean that hundreds of thousands of people are “in the queue” to try to obtain benefits? We’ve never seen an actual line of human beings stretching hundreds of thousands of people long and taking months, if not years, to process. So we have no real world metaphor to understand the diversity and depth of the chaos of the current process.

When you “toss in” other disconcerting aspects of the process – insurance company headaches, struggles with diagnoses and treatment, secondary effects from drug therapies, relationship-related struggles caused/worsened by your illness – the situation can seem absolutely pell-mell. Where do you start? How do you even begin to formulate a plan of action, given that you’re not just dealing with the “known” problems associated with your illness/injury, but also with what ex-Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, cheekily once called the “known unknowns and the unknown unknowns”?

First of all, before you get overwhelmed by the chaos, consider the following piece of good news. Many people in situations very similar to yours have been able to get benefits, work through their medical issues, and get their lives back in order. Secondly, rest assured that you do not have to reinvent the wheel. You’re not the first person to struggle with your Social Security disability claim, and you won’t be the last. Solid law firms, like DeMayo Law here in Charlotte, have tremendous experience helping claimants strategize to get best results and deal with all the “known unknowns and unknown unknowns” that crop up along the way. Finally, appreciate that, for all the uncertainty around your claim, life also often offers possibility of serendipity. For instance, an old friend or family member may come forward to provide logistical help, financial assistance, or even moral support out of the blue. Even during our darkest times, positive serendipities can arise.

For help understanding what to do next about your North Carolina Social Security disability situation, get in touch with the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo today for a consultation.

What If Your Only Income Was North Carolina Social Security Disability… And You Had No Arms? How Would You Survive?

December 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re exploring or fighting for social security disability benefits in North Carolina. Your situation is hard, complicated, and confusing. You’re stressed about what might happen if you fail to collect benefits (or enough benefits), an agitation compounded by your medical woes, overall financial problems, and the emotional strain.

Believe it or not, some people have it worse!

Consider the case of Ty Williams, a North Carolina social security disability beneficiary who collects $962 a month. That’s Mr. Williams’ only income. Oh, and he is a double amputee.

His base line situation could be no metric be considered “easy.”

Yet forces beyond his control have conspired to make his problems even worse. Social Security gave him a raise earlier this year – ostensibly a good thing – but the 3% raise bumped him over North Carolina’s Medicaid cap, which legally compels Mr. Williams to pay a $700 per month deductible to keep his (obviously very necessary) in-home care. In an interview with NBC Charlotte, Williams admitted that this added burden would essentially forced him into a nursing home.

The state ostensibly solved this issue earlier in the year, by untethering Medicaid caps from federal cost of living adjustments (COLAs). Problem solved? Not so fast. The firm that pays for Williams’ caregivers slapped him with a past due bill for over $1000 and informed him that if he failed to pay the balance by the end of November, “his contract … and care … would be terminated.”

Fortunately, there may be a happy ending yet to Mr. Williams’ North Carolina social security disability odyssey. NBC’s Charlotte I team has goaded both Mecklenburg County Commissioners and North Carolina Legislators to deal with this issue, so that Mr. Williams and others who are similarly positioned won’t be disastrously afflicted.

Williams’ situation illustrates how fights over SSD or SSI income can easily lead to dire outcomes. When your finances are literally hanging by a thread – and you are dependent on federal government largess for support – you lose agency, and small problems (such as an overdue bill for $1000) can metastasize into enormous, life changing events.

If you’ve been confused and scared about what might happen to your benefits, get in touch with the DeMayo law team today to explore possible avenues toward success.

How Well Are You Keeping Track of Your Quest for Social Security Disability in North Carolina?

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a North Carolina Social Security Disability claimant — or someone else who wants or needs government assistance, like Supplemental Security Income, to balance your budget and meet your financial needs in the wake of a serious injury or illness — you face a curious problem.

You are being ‘fed’ a lot of information from diverse sources about your Social Security Disability situation: you’re not quite sure how to process it all. Emotions like overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, and even depression may be clouding your thinking about your claims situation. These feelings likely have their roots in this “info processing” problem.

So how can you meet this challenge?

How can you process the competing sources of information about Social Security Disability to make better choices and feel more in command of your life? There are lot of ‘mental tools’ you can use. We’ve talked before about some of these thinking tools, such as author David Allen’s (Getting Things Done, Make It All Work) techniques as well as the “Five Whys” analysis. Rather than run through those models again; in this post, we’ll examine another method to help you clean out and clear up the informational chaos clogging your life.

This technique is called ‘Swallow the Frog.’

Every morning, do the hardest task of the day first. That’s it.

Say you’re urgently seeking a qualified Social Security Disability law firm — and you know you need to make calls and analyze your findings. That might be your top priority. So first thing in the morning — before you make breakfast, read the paper, surf the web, or do another ‘easier’ work task — you would ‘swallow the frog’ and make measurable progress on your law firm research.

When you swallow the frog first thing in the morning, you gain confidence and ‘productivity steam’ for the tasks ahead. Even if you accomplish nothing else for the rest of the day, you will still have gotten a big important task out of the way.

Stay tuned in two days for our next post, during which we’ll reveal another hugely helpful productivity tip to help you get clarity on your “information processing” dilemma.

Understand that you will not “fix your life” in one day or untangle the mess that’s been building in your life for years by following “one simple trick” or something hokey like that. The key to success is to understand and develop a toolbox of info-processing tools and then leverage those tools more and more over time.

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.

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.

The Aftermath of the GOP and Democratic Conventions – What it Means for Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere?

September 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you were glued to the TV for both the Republican and Democratic conventions — or you were too busy managing the multiple crises spawned by your quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability to pay attention to the political theater — you are probably wondering how the November election results will impact your personal finances and medical care.

As election season heats up, pundits and prognosticators are going to be making all sorts of predictions – some cataclysmic, some pie in the sky – about how various election outcomes will change Social Security Disability in Charlotte and other benefits programs.

Both GOP boosters and Obama boosters will come with compelling and emotionally taught arguments for their positions. But in the midst of all this confusion, understand that it’s nearly impossible to discern exactly how different election results will impact you on a personal level.

After all, consider the myriad factors that influence not only Social Security Disability solvency but also its processes and systems. These include:

•    The medical needs of people in North Carolina and beyond;
•    Political considerations on multiple levels;
•    Budgetary/economic considerations;
•    Foreign policy needs/concerns/threats;
•    The emergence (or lack thereof) of innovative methods to solve SSD problems.

That’s only a rough categorization of some of the macroscopic factors that could influence Social Security Disability and other benefits programs. It doesn’t even beginning to touch upon your personal situation.

The reality is that we live in an integrated, complicated world.

Although we like it when politicians paint simplistic pictures – compelling emotional stories – the reality is that it’s just not easy to link causes to effects in complex systems, even when you’re talking about predicting the workings of a system instead of just rationalizing it.

So where does that leave you?

First of all, seek to control what you can control. Don’t worry about the solvency of the Federal Government’s programs – it’s really outside of your control. The time that you waste thinking about it is the time that you could spend thinking about your own problems and figuring out how to solve them better.

Secondly, try to solve all of your benefits problems on your own. Life is complicated, and you’re probably not an expert in the law, processes, and nuances of federal benefits programs. Connect with the team here at the Law Offices on Michael A. DeMayo for deep insights and step-by-step assistance with you quest to get the money that you need to live your life.

Obama’s Post-Convention “Bounce” and Your Charlotte Social Security Disability Journey

September 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s your mission to collect Charlotte Social Security Disability benefits.

Whether you contracted a terrible illness that’s knocked you off your feet or you suffered a serious injury that’s waylaid you, you just want “the system to play fair.” This is totally understandable. But if you’ve been obsessing over the details of the North Carolina Social Security Disability system – reading about the benefits program for hours online, chatting with other sick and injured folks on web forms, scouting law firms, like DeMayo law, for possible help – then you may be falling into a kind of trap.

The trap is a classic one: missing the forest for the trees.

To illustrate this, let’s just take a look at the political pundits’ analysis of the GOP and Democratic conventions. According to ace pollster Nate Silver of the New York Times, President Obama saw a small but definitive “bounce” in his poll numbers following the two conventions. This observation sparked a cascade of reactions in the political blogosphere, ranging from hand-wringing among Republicans, who worry that Romney is not waging an A+ campaign, to cautionary enthusiasm among Democrats.

Speculation can be useful, obviously. Just as detailed researching about SSD can be, as can reading stories of successful beneficiaries.

But there is a limit to how much any trend can tell us.

Just like there is a limit to how much “detailed research” can illuminate and resolve our concerns.

After all, polls are just polls, trends are just trends, and stories are just stories.

To make more sensible progress – and draw better conclusions – you need to look at the bigger picture as well as the little details. When you ask bigger picture questions, you tend to frame your struggles differently and to identify different resources and new ways of thinking about your challenges. For instance, instead of getting mired in the details of “how much am I going to collect from Social Security Disability?” you might frame your crisis in more general terms:

•    What do I want my life to look like six months, a year, five years from now?
•    What’s my number one priority – if I had to choose just one thing – for the next year?
•    What’s the minimum amount of money or help that I need to achieve that one outcome?

Thinking on this grander scale can help you break free from the tedious minutia that throw us off-track and get us revved up for nothing. For instance, if your main concern isn’t milking the benefits program for a maximum dollar amount but rather recovering from a serious back injury, then the lion’s share of your time, resources, and energy need to go to that problem.

Obviously, you can and should fight hard for your benefits – the team here at DeMayo Law can help with that – but if your primary concern is to heal your back, researching about the future of federal benefits programs is not going to get you there fastest.

The moral is this: Understand the purpose of your quest – before you get into the nitty gritty – whether the quest is for benefits, better health or a good Charlotte law firm.

What the Violence in Syria Can Teach You about Your Charlotte Social Security Disability Crisis

August 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Half a world away, the country of Syria has been torn apart by violent civil unrest, the details of which are almost too gruesome and tragic to publish. What can the Syrian crisis – specifically, the way in which Americans seem to contextualize this crisis – tell us about the Charlotte social security disability benefits journey?

If you are someone who really needs money to pay for medical bills, physical rehab, rent, and other living expenses, you may face challenges like reconsideration, an administrative law judge hearing, or some other constraint in the process. The seemingly very distantly related events in the Middle East can give you perspective on what to expect – how to cut through your challenges.

May sound like a stretch, but please read on.

Before reading this article, how closely were you following the political situation in Syria? Whether you followed it in detail — and you have a strong opinion about what needs to be done — or you really haven’t been paying attention to it because you’ve been so caught up in your own medical, legal, and financial crisis – you recognize that the situation is “way too big” for you to do anything about it. And obviously, the broiling political debate over how (or even whether) to fix our entitlement programs, like social security disability and supplemental security income, is also huge. There is nothing you personally can do to affect that system, either.

Here is another parallel: Even in the midst of the horrific crisis in the Middle East, “life goes on” for most people around the globe.

Likewise, you may personally be in the middle of a horrific medical or financial crisis, but the world around you continues to go on. And that can make the journey quite lonely and alienating — kind of like how it feels to be a kid trapped inside during recess, hearing all of his friends play outside on the jungle gym.

One of the best ways to make progress given the diverse difficulties you face – and the magnitude of those difficulties – is to work with a proven team to get results. The Law Office of Michael A. DeMayo is here to help you unravel your challenges and make progress to get the benefits that you need and deserve. Connect with us online for a free consultation with our North Carolina social security disability law firm.

What the Search for Exo Planets Can Tell Us about Your Quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability

August 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Twenty years ago, the world’s top astronomers hotly debated whether there were other planets in the Milky Way galaxy outside our own solar system. Today, thanks to new techniques and telescopes, “planet hunters” have documented hundreds of planets outside the solar system planets (“exo planets”). This radical shift forward holds important lessons, if you or someone you care about needs social security disability benefits in North Carolina or elsewhere.

In this article, we will take a brief tour of the exo planet hunting journey… and tie these exciting discoveries back to your quest for benefits.

Finding planets outside of our own solar system is devilishly difficult.

Stars in the sky are so far away that they appear to our eyes like points of light. The closest non-sun star to earth, Proxima Centauri, is over 24 trillion miles away! So trying to find planets revolving around these distant fiery objects requires an unbelievable amount of precision.

But researchers ultimately honed techniques to zero in on these dim planets. One of these involved very carefully measuring the light around distant stars to look for something called occlusion. In other words, the light from a star may dim for several hours or days as an object, such as a nearby planet, passes between the star and our vantage here on earth. Using this method and others, astronomers managed to find planets. In fact, our techniques have gotten so good that we’ve found entire solar systems around other stars – and we’ve even managed to finally take an actual picture of a large exo planet, some 20 odd light years from earth.

What The Scientific Advances Mean For Your Quest For Benefits

The idea that the planets could be found and photographed was dismissed by some of the most respected minds in the institution of astronomy. But slight improvements in technology and processes have led to remarkable results – and a paradigm shift among these experts.

Likewise, your situation might seem financially, physically, or emotionally untenable right now. You might feel overwhelmed and miserable – as if your life will never “get back together.” But with slight improvements in your methods, processes, and resources, you might make surprisingly remarkable progress. For instance, the right rehab specialist and physician can potentially help you recover from your back injury or illness. A powerful law firm, like the team here at DeMayo Law, can help you navigate the Charlotte social security disability bureaucracy better and lock down a fair benefits amount. And so forth.

The moral is: persistence can often pay off, especially when that persistence is linked with a critical focus on a key objective. Strive for incremental improvement and for getting the right people and resources in place.

A Magical Fix for Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits Problems?

August 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Search around for help with your social security disability benefits in North Carolina or elsewhere, and you will be inundated with brilliant-sounding advice from highly credentialed people who’ve apparently achieved major success – either for themselves or for their clients.

If you just went off your Google research, you’d almost certainly come to develop a belief that getting benefits is relatively easy – as long as you buy xyz product!

Look: truth be told, there are good systems and bad systems – proven processes and unproven processes – for handling the flotsam and jetsam of your benefits quest.

Your odds would likely increase, for instance, if you retained a good law firm, like DeMayo Law here in Charlotte, to help you navigate the confusion. But understand this. Your problems are complicated. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for you – or even a one-size-fits-all solution to part of your problems.

An Integrated Approach – Incremental, Goal-Oriented, Purpose-Driven

The average person who needs social security disability is sick, injured, demoralized, bereft of good support, confused, and overwhelmed.

If you fit that mold – or someone you care about fits that mold – your drive to try to “solve it all at once” will no doubt be intense. You want to make the pain go away – now. But understand that your problems likely did not just explode on you over the course of a single day. They developed over time. Even if the “event” that touched off your current crisis was an acute event – i.e., it happened “out of the blue” – odds are some aspects of your financial or physical or emotional foundation were shoddy well before that event occurred.

To extract yourself, play the long game. Focus on the purpose of your social security disability benefits quest as opposed to the specific outcome that you want to achieve. By working from purpose – as opposed to a vision that lacks purpose – you might find shortcuts to satisfy your needs that require less time and effort.

For instance, say what you really need is a guaranteed place to live over the next five years. Maybe you’re facing foreclosure or another financial crisis. Rather than “bet the farm” (perhaps literally) on your ability to collect benefits, you could search for an alternative living arrangement. For instance, maybe a brother or cousin could offer to take you in while you recover. This way, you can still go after your benefits, but you no longer will feel compelled to get them “or else”.  Your more relaxed posture will actually help you be smarter and more strategic (as opposed to desperate and tactical).

Of course, you also do want to vision out an ideal outcome. The clearer the vision you have for success, the better.

Lastly, strive for incremental, measureable progress as opposed to “getting it all done at once” – that way you can give yourself “wins” and work towards a better future methodically.

A Fairytale North Carolina Social Security Disability Ending

July 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Who doesn’t like to believe in happy endings? If you or someone you care about has recently gotten a terrible diagnosis or has suffered an injury at work or elsewhere, you are probably hoping for a fairytale solution to your North Carolina social security disability problems.

It’s easy to understand why one might crave “bolt from the blue” assistance.

Practically nobody fully anticipates all the problems that come with being suddenly sick or injured. And even if your illness developed somewhat slowly – e.g. you’ve been struggling with fibromyalgia or chronic arthritis like symptoms for years before the pain got so bad that you couldn’t work — odds are that you’ve entered a new domain of intensity and diversity of problems.

These issues likely range all over the place and include budget problems, health issues, concerns about people under your care, worries about your career legacy and otherwise.

What the cynics will tell you.

The cynics will underline the difficulty of your journey and the potentially long odds against your success in various domains. For instance, if you are in your mid-60s, and you’ve had to quit your business due to a chronic condition like advanced diabetes, you will never reboot your career. So you need to play conservative with your money and time from here on out.

The cynics will use numbers and statistics to hammer home their points.

Why it’s important to believe in fairytales – but not to be a Pollyanna about it, either!

There is a reason why little kids love to imagine themselves as princesses, rock stars, and the like. It’s a very human reason. We need positive fantasies to fuel real world motivation. Even if we never reach the ideal – e.g. become an astronaut, win a noble prize, win first place in a marathon, etc – the positive vision fuels us to achieve self betterment.

What this means in a practical sense is that you can and should spend time envisioning a perfect, ideal solution to your North Carolina social security disability benefit situation. Taking the example we mentioned earlier … imagine that our 60 something year old developed a positive vision, in which he started his own company based on a hobby (e.g. woodworking) and started selling wares via the web.

Maybe he might not make a fortune doing it. He might not even succeed! But this positive vision would almost certainly spur him to take good action – to take better care of himself, to fight harder for his benefits, to live for something beyond that nihilistic vision of “play conservative from here on out.”

Getting the help you need to increase the likelihood of your fairytale coming true.

The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMeyo has a rich and diverse history of helping individuals who need benefits – and the caregivers of those individuals – solve, fight and win myriad battles. Find out more about us online, or call us today for a free consultation.

Not Eligible for Compassionate Allowances: the Frustration of It All

June 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The struggle to get North Carolina social security disability benefits is becoming more and more competitive, as more people flow into the queue and the bureaucracy gets overloaded. This is frustrating news. And if you are sick or seriously injured, your need for help may be bordering on the desperate.

The government provides a number of ways to shortcut the typical waiting process. We’ve discussed one of them in the past – the Compassionate Allowances program – which gives people with certain diseases, such as late stage cancer, the ability to “jump the queue.”

But what if you don’t qualify?

Feelings of regret, anger, and frustration can easily result. So what should you do? First of all, you want to avoid letting these negative feelings consume you. There can be emotional repercussions, if you allow yourself to get too depressed or frustrated.

If you feel hopeless or depressed, you will be less likely to take positive action, find resources that can help you, and articulate your problems clearly, so you can get your needs met. There can also be physical repercussions. When you feel depressed and defeated, you may experience stress and thus flood your body with a lot of cortisol (the stress hormone). This can then cause problems. You may stop eating well; you may stop getting enough sunshine; you may not sleep regularly. All these indirect problems can then compound not only your medical situation but also your other problems.

The point is simple: start thinking rationally and reaching out for good help. The team here at DeMayo Law is here to get your started.

Making progress requires more than just understanding where you are and where you would like to be – with clear eyes. It also requires that you frame your situation in a positive, appealing way. So ask yourself some questions. How do you want to talk to yourself about your social security disability concerns, in a way that serves your life and helps you achieve your goals?

Do you want to say to yourself, repeatedly, “this is so unfair! I can’t believe this is happening to me! This is so unfair! This system is against me!” Or do you want to say things to the effect of “Boy, I really wish things were different, and I am in a lot of pain and anger because of what has happened. But I want to leverage that pain to make a positive difference in my life and do my best to meet my needs.”

Which one of those internal scripts do you think, when replayed over, over, and over again in your head, will lead to better results over the long term?

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

May 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

That danger has to do with a loss of control.

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

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

A way around the dilemma

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

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

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

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

May 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits Are Just Not Enough

May 10, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

This can be intensely frustrating.

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

Understanding the purpose of your North Carolina social security disability

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

I want to get North Carolina social security disability …

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

How to define the purpose of an activity

Why purpose can constrain and improve your choices

Tax Time and North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits

April 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you collect North Carolina social security disability benefits, you may have to pay significant taxes on that money. Clearly, that’s not necessarily welcome news. But there are a few reasons you should not worry… yet.

First of all, approximately two-thirds of beneficiaries don’t pay taxes on their benefits. Uncle Sam can only tax you on 50% of the benefits you collect, annually. Finally, by working with a smart accountant and consulting with your North Carolina social security disability law firm, you can most likely come up with a solid plan to minimize your tax liabilities and prevent annoying surprises in the future.

Although there are subtleties with respect to the tax law, if you only collect social security disability benefits, odds are, you won’t have to pay taxes. But if you have additional income streams – or if your spouse has additional income streams and you file a joint return and more than $32,000 of income – then you can get into taxability territory.

How you collect and report your benefits can also impact your tax situation.

If you collect benefits in a lump sum and report them as such — especially if you inadvertently say that the benefits are normal income — Uncle Sam could wallop you with a significant hit. On the other hand, if you use the appropriate IRS worksheets and/or collect benefits periodically, you can side step certain tax related headaches.

Unfortunately, with the current income tax paradigm, nothing is simple!

There are always caveats to caveats and exceptions to the exceptions. Don’t get stuck in the proverbial mud trying to calculate your way through the tax code. It’s almost certainly worth it for you to outsource aspects of this task to an accountant you trust and to talk to your reputable law firm about other legal or tax related implications.

More Web Resources:

Tax Day, 2012

Social Security Disability and Taxes

North Carolina Social Security Disability – Less is More

April 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most people who get on Social Security Disability in North Carolina – or who want to receive benefits – find themselves at a perpetual disadvantage.

You may feel, for instance, like you will never catch-up on your bills; you will never finish even the most essential things on your to do list; and you will never have energy to enjoy a social life or any recreational activity that’s less passive than vegging out and watching reality TV. You might be right. But, in your haste to try to deal with overwhelm, you may inadvertently undercut yourself, psychologically. Why? Because you are going to suffer, relentlessly, from the “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” problem when it comes to organization.

You Are Not – And Never Were! — Superman (or Superwoman)

Many would be North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries blame their problems on a lack of resources. You may find yourself saying – out loud or internally in your internal monologue:

•    “If only I had more time.”
•    “If only I had more money.”
•    “If only I had the right North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.”
•    “If only I hadn’t gotten sick or hurt.”

Etc, etc. ad nauseam

So what we have here is a situation in which we wind-up feeling like we are victims – like our problems stem from a lack of resources.

Nonsense!

This isn’t to say that resources aren’t important. But our ability to thrive (or lack thereof) is less related to our immediate resources than it is to our resourcefulness. That’s a subtle distinction. But it’s an important one. Resourcefulness means being able to behave like the old TV icon MacGyver (you might know him by his SNL doppelganger MacGruber). MacGyver had a knack for coming up with band-aid like solutions to complicated problems in his life. He’d be trapped in a warehouse with nothing but scotch tape (or whatever), and he’d manage to escape and tie-up the bad guys in rolls and rolls of tape. That was not really an example from an actual MacGyver episode. But the point is that MacGyver was the archetypal resourceful guy.

Just because you’ve been thrown back on your feet by an illness or an injury or by a financial problem or by troubles in your relationships – or perhaps, you’ve been hit by a storm that’s walloped you with all these problems at once and more – does NOT mean that you are helpless or a victim or without recourse.

You might not be able to leverage the resources that you used to be able to leverage – such as your health, energy, flush finances, or what have you. But if you really take the time to understand your problems, to get clear on what you want, to look for help outside your normal circles, and to generally think and behave like MacGyver, you might be astonished at how much progress you can make — not only towards solving your benefits problems but also to solving your other chronic issues that have been plaguing you from even before when you got sick or hurt.

My web resources:

Be Like MacGyver

Be Like MacGruber

Young, Beautiful… and on North Carolina Social Security Disability?

April 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Conjure an image of the typical beneficiary of North Carolina social security disability.

You might think about an elderly woman who needs benefits to pay for medical care related to her hypertension and diabetes. Or you might think about a great uncle who suffers from advanced stage dementia and requires round the clock care. Whatever image you chose, odds are, it wasn’t of a young, vibrant, and seemingly healthy looking person.

But in fact, many people who apply for Social Security Disability in North Carolina are young!

Illness can strike at any age, as can debilitating accidents or emergent genetic diseases. It can be truly awful to deal with a long term medical crisis, if you’re just starting your career. A woman who goes on Social Security Disability at the age of 67, after working a long and rewarding professional life, may still be struggling to make ends meet financially. But a woman who is 38 and suddenly afflicted with a rare genetic disease that forces her to take 18 months off of work may be in a very different — and more vulnerable! — place in her life.

Moreover, if you are a senior and you need benefits, you don’t necessarily feel “out of the loop” or “behind your peers.” In fact, if you’ve lived a long, rich life, you may be grateful just to get to keep living your life and seeing your grandkids, etc. But if you’re a young person whose peers are healthy, raising their families, earning good wages, etc, you may feel quite left out and frustrated.

It’s normal to make social comparisons with your peers, even though most people admit that this behavior is somewhat destructive and petty. One key to resolving some of your stress is getting a deeper understanding of how the Social Security Disability system works and what you should and should not do to maximize your benefits.

To that end, talk to a time-tested social security disability law firm in North Carolina now.

More Web Resources:

The Isolating Experience of Being Young and Ill

Being Young and on Social Security Disability

Who Can Qualify for Social Security Disability in North Carolina?

April 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re a North Carolinian who is confused about Social Security Disability insurance benefits, this post will hopeful clarify key concepts for you.

In order to qualify for these benefits, you must prove to the government that you are disabled due to a mental or physical health problem. The definition of “disabled enough” has been left pretty ambiguous by lawmakers. You must show that you are incapable of conducting “substantial gainful activity” due to your physical/mental health issue.

You also need to have paid enough into the system. If you haven’t earned enough “work credits,” you may be deemed ineligible for benefits. This can be a problem for freelancers, entrepreneurs, stay at home moms, and young injured people.

There is a silver lining. The amount of money that you earned in the past – or your current asset portfolio – does not come into play. You can be relatively well off and still access substantial Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina. With other government programs, such as Supplemental Security Income or worker’s comp, your assets and/or income can come into play and determine (and, in some cases, restrict) your benefits.

How do you prove that you are unable to work?

According to 2010 rules, if you can make over a thousand dollars a month (the number is slightly higher for blind people – $1,640), then you are out of luck. You need to be so disabled that you cannot even earn $1,000 a month. In addition, you need to show that your time off of work will last at least 12 months or will end with your death. It is not enough, in other words, merely to show that you have a dire diagnosis. You need to show that the diagnosis radically impacts your ability to earn.

Social Security Disability officials want to see proof that your mental and/or physical limitations will seriously restrain your ability to make money. Note that you don’t have to show that you’re totally incapacitated. For instance, maybe you’re very fatigued, due to fibromyalgia and spinal problems. But you can still work 5 to 10 hours a week. Assuming that those 5 to 10 hours a week only add up to about $900 of income a month – and you can prove this – you should still easily qualify for SSDI benefits.

Of course, the rules get complicated, and the system is often inflexible, surprising and unfair. It can help you tremendously to connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to discuss what you might be able to do to improve your odds.

More Web Resources:

Substantial Gainful Activity

Who qualifies for social security disability benefits?

Enjoying the North Carolina Social Security Disability Journey

March 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Life’s opportunities are often challenges in disguise, and the same might be true for your current quest for social security disability benefits in North Carolina.

Obviously, this sounds counterintuitive. After all, you are likely panicked about your medical condition, worried about how you are going to feed your family and pay your bills, and discombobulated by the amount of information about social security disability benefits you’ve found on the web. Maybe you’ve even had to suffer through a difficult administrative law judge hearing or go through reconsideration. Even if your application for benefits has not been denied, you’ve no doubt found the experience stressful and unwelcome – an annoyance (at best) that you and your family must deal with on top of an already scary and frustrating situation.

Assuming all the aforementioned is true… how can your North Carolina social security disability quest be considered an “opportunity” and how on earth should one “enjoy” it?

The answer is basically this. In the American myth, we are taught that success comes to those who buy certain things, achieve a certain level of status, acquire the right products, and so forth. Technically, we have what is known as an acquisitive mindset. We like to acquire, and we are taught that we will be unfulfilled unless until we acquire the right “stuff” (money, cars, possessions, superiority, heath, security, beauty, etc.). This acquisitive mindset is not necessarily bad or incorrect. Obviously, we all need certain basics to live and survive, and we much prefer to have things like security, wealth, health, and youth over the alternatives. The problem is that, when we frame our struggles as struggles to acquire, we ignore fundamental truths about our own psychology (i.e. what makes us happy) and also about the nature of success itself.

As scholars like Barry Schwartz and Daniel Gilbert have written about at length, experiments convincingly show that acquiring “stuff” (even security and financial stability) does not lead to happiness nearly as much as most people think it does. If you won the lottery tomorrow, for instance, your troubles wouldn’t be over, and your sense of happiness and wellbeing wouldn’t change over the long term, either.

This isn’t to say that you should be lazy or you should not pursue your North Carolina social security disability benefits aggressively and with passion and urgency. But it is to say that you shouldn’t expect SSD benefits to “change everything.” By the same token, success researchers – from modern day business theorists back to reporters like Napoleon Hill (author of “Think and Grow Rich”) — have repeatedly shown that one’s mindset can powerfully influence outcomes. If you want to maximize your chances of arriving at the destination you want, in other words, you must learn to enjoy – and perhaps even love – the journey that you are on.

More Web Resources:

Think and Grow Rich

Winning the Lottery Doesn’t Make You Happier

Confronting Your North Carolina Social Security Disability “Worst Nightmare”

March 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many who apply for North Carolina social security disability benefits panic. They panic because they fear the bureaucracy, they fear rejection, and they fear going bankrupt. They panic also because they fail to think through whether or not their most catastrophic thoughts are rational or not. This is a complicated thought, but it’s a key one. So let’s unpack it.

Taking a Good, Hard Look at the Worst Case Outcomes

As the late great author Madeleine L’Engle once illustrated so beautifully in one of her science fiction stories, the key to dealing with the nameless horrors in our lives is to use the power of naming. Uncertain, amorphous fears are almost always more scary and threatening than our worst fears articulated. Philosophers like Ernest Becker have suggested, for instance, that our fear of mortality is intrinsically terrifying simply because it’s so difficult to understand what death might be like or what may come after death. The uncertainty of death creates our terror about it.

On the flipside, when you actually sit down and confront your fears – name them and work through them, intellectually – you might be amazed at how “unscary” they can become.

For instance, let’s consider a typical worst case scenario for the North Carolina social security disability beneficiary. You are very sick with a potential life threatening illness. You go through the social security disability process, get rejected and struggle through all the different appeals processes – reconsideration, the ALJ hearing, and so forth. At the end of the day, your benefits are denied. Now you don’t have money to pay for your home, your bills, and your medical care.

Sounds pretty rough, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, situations like this are the reality for far too many North Carolinians, which is why it’s so important for would be beneficiaries to connect with a responsible North Carolina social security disability law firm early on the process. But even in that dire scenario, consider that the person would still be alive, and would still potentially have options for care, including government assistance, help from friends and family, and help from other programs. If you anticipated that worst case scenario and planned for it appropriately, perhaps you could protect some of your savings, find alternative care, and generally make the landing as “soft” as possible. Life would go on, in other words, even if life got uncomfortable for a while.

Moving out of the abstract, it might be useful for you to take some time and think for your own “worst case scenarios” for social security disability and then test them against reality. What are the actual odds of these nightmares? What would you do if they did come true? You will find that just by writing this stuff down and reconciling with it in a rational way, you will take a lot of the emotional charge out of it.

More Web Resources:

The Works of Ernest Becker

Writing Down and Dealing With Your Worst Fears

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

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

Sounds Nice, but Is It True? Avoiding “Claptrap” While on Social Security Disability in North Carolina

January 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If an illness or serious injury has disrupted your life and compelled you to seek social security disability in North Carolina, you may feel like you’re in relatively desperate straits.

After all, it’s no fun to battle a serious chronic disease or debilitating physical ailment at any age, at any time of your life. It’s even more disturbing to deal with a medical problem if your financial security is threatened and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For these reasons and many others, individuals who need social security disability in North Carolina often find themselves not only the targets of scams and schemes, but also enraptured by hokum that provides false hope. This may lead them to do self-destructive things, like throw away medications or abandon a physician’s advice in favor of a psychic’s.

Separating Hokum from Useful “Self-Help”

It’s easy to be a skeptic of things like acupuncture, meditation, hypnosis, homeopathy, and other forms of “non-western” healing. But the science is often ambiguous. For instance, can acupuncture or acupressure treat certain chronic physical ailments? Some reputable scientific authorities say yes; others argue that acupuncture does little more than provide a placebo-effect type of healing.

Are the naysayers correct or incorrect? Counter-arguments abound!

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and never really understand the fine points of the debate or find a resolution to it. On the other hand, advocates of alternative healing methods rightly point out that conventional medicine often falls victim to “hokum” and false beliefs.

For instance, University of Minnesota researcher Ancil Keys’ “lipid hypothesis” – the belief that eating dietary fat causes heart disease – stems in large part from a study that Keys conducted called the Seven-Countries Study. The study ostensibly showed a correlation between nations that ate a lot of fat and nations that had a lot of heart disease. But Keys’ science was exquisitely poor. It turns out that the Seven-Countries Study actually included 22 countries – 15 of which Keys conveniently left out to show support for his hypothesis. Once you add in those 15 other countries, the data are all over the map. There is no support for the lipid hypothesis in the Seven-Countries Study.

So, you can find hokum when it comes to alternative medicine. You can find hokum when it comes to conventional medical thinking.

Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis, North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries are often left to fend for themselves and “figure out” who is right and who is wrong in these complicated scientific debates. That’s an enormous problem in its own right.

To avoid getting lost, you need to find resources that can help you navigate your medical and your legal situation effectively. Your medical condition is obviously extremely complicated, and no generic blog post could hope to address it. You may find a consultation with a North Carolina social security disability law firm quite useful and eye opening.

More web resources:

All about the Lipid Hypothesis

Ancil Keys’ Seven-Countries Study… or was it 22 Countries?

How and When Will North Carolina Social Security Disability Reform Happen?

January 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The topic of Social Security Disability reform in North Carolina and elsewhere is a favorite of pundits, politicians, financial analysts, and anyone else with a policy bone to pick. This is understandable. According to government accounting figures, $0.21 out of every federal dollar is spent on social security. This makes the program the most expensive program of any kind anywhere in the world.

If you read the doomsday headlines, you will quickly become convinced that the Social Security System is headed for a financial train wreck. As we discussed in a recent blog post, Social Security Disability and other government programs face a perfect storm of problems. More people are retiring and/or relying on government assistance to make it from paycheck to paycheck. More people are getting fat and sick and diabetic. The baby-boomer generation is set to retire. The United States – and the rest of the industrial world – is sunk in a nasty, seemingly never-ending recession. And that’s just the beginning of our woes. Pundits can also point out massive structural problems and inefficiencies that will take generations to eliminate. It’s easy to get sucked into doomsday thinking.

However, it’s important to remember that systems like North Carolina Social Security Disability are complex. That means they are subject to both black swan and white swan effects. The black swan is an unexpected and game-changing bad event – like the financial meltdown of 2008 or the terrorist attacks of 9/11. White swan events are in some sense the opposite. They are positive surprises that unexpectedly solve problems.

For instance, in the last decade of the nineteenth century, pundits spoke in doomsday terms about all the horse traffic on the streets of New York City. All the horse dung, the horse-related deaths, etc. No one anticipated that, in the following decade, the automobile would revolutionize transportation and essentially eliminate horse travel – and all its problems.

Will a white swan-type event save social security? It’s impossible to tell in advance. But it would be foolish to discount the possibility that a white swan could swoop in at the eleventh hour and save us all from what the doomsdayers promise is certain calamity.

For help with your benefits case, connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Black Swans and White Swans

Social Security Disability Doomsday Prophecy

North Carolina Social Security Disability Appeals Process – The Four Steps of Appeal

April 13, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Knowing that you’re eligible for North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you’d like to maximize your chances of success.

After all, if you’re sick, injured, and confused, you need all the help you can get to simplify and shortcut the process and sidestep any pitfalls. This essay will walk you through the appeals process and give you statistics to chew over.

Out of 1,000 applicants who apply for North Carolina Social Security Disability (or SSD elsewhere in the country), 350 will be awarded benefits, 338 applications will be abandoned, and 312 will enter the appeals process. Note that, when you request an appeal, Social Security will look at the entire decision pertaining to your situation – they will review both unfavorable and favorable aspects. During the initial review, Social Security can render a variety of decisions:

• Decide you are eligible for the benefits
• Decide to stop your benefits
• Alter the amount of money you will receive

Reconsideration

The first step in the appeals process is called Reconsideration.

A different person from the person who reviewed your application the first time will look over your case. Essentially, it’s like a home base empire reviewing the decision a first base umpire makes.

Out of our pool of 312 people who request reconsideration, 47 will be awarded benefits, 80 will abandon the process, and 185 will head to the next tier of appeal – the ALJ hearing.

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing

You can set an ALJ hearing using the web at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeals. The judge will not have had any part in your case thusfar. If you hire a law firm that specializes in North Carolina Social Security Disability, your attorneys can request a hearing for you and bring your case before the judge.

Out of the 185 remaining applicants in our theoretical pool, 102 will be awarded benefits after this process, 46 will abandon their pursuit, and 45 applicants will go to the next tier of appeals, the Appeals Counsel Review.

The Appeals Counsel Review

Assuming that you don’t agree with Administrative Law Judge’s decision on you case, you can ask to have the Appeals Counsel Review your case. Out of the 45 remaining people (dwindled down from our initial 1,000 applicants), 8 will be sent back to another ALJ hearing, one will be awarded benefits, 33 will abandon their quest, and 5 will take their cases to Federal Court. Your odds of ending up in federal court over an SSD case are just 0.5% (5 out of 1,000).

Federal Court Action

The United States District Court will be the first court to hear your appeal, if you disagree with the Appeal Counsel’s decision. Depending on the facts of your case and a variety of other relevant factors, Federal Court action can stretch on and even potentially reach the Supreme Court of the United States… although that’s very, very unlikely.

Of the 5 cases that end up in Federal Court, 2.5 are abandoned, 0.25 lead to awards, and fewer than 2 get returned to the Appeals Counsel.

The application-and-appeals process is complicated, sophisticated, and time consuming. A North Carolina social security disability law firm can protect your rights and maximize your chances of getting the system to deliver results.

More Web Resouces:

www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeals

Supplemental Security Income 101

 
 

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