Topic: Social Security disability solutions

Desperate for Social Security Disability Benefits? Get a Hobby!

March 26, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries (or want-to-be beneficiaries) can learn a lot from Rock ‘n’ Roll lyrics–specifically from 38 Special’s famous song “Hold on Loosely” which warned “Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go… if you cling too tightly, you’re going to lose control.”

Those are true words–particularly if you’ve been struggling with your Social Security Disability situation. Whether you caught a nasty case of pneumonia that’s kept you bedridden for months, or you wrecked your back in a construction accident in Raleigh, you need assistance and stat.

Unfortunately, life deals out unfair results, all the time. The more you strive to achieve a certain result, the more elusive that goal often seems to become. Ask any teenage boy (or girl) who’s ever been desperate for a date to a dance. When you act out of a desperate energy–as if your life depended on a particular outcome happening (or not happening)–you cede control over your destiny.

That loss of control, in and of itself, can cripple you.

We’ve discussed this theme dozens of times in dozens of ways on this North Carolina Social Security Disability blog, but it always bears repeating.

To break free from dependency on outcome, consider getting a hobby.

That might sound strange–perhaps even a bit insulting. But don’t take it the wrong way! Hobbies can be remarkably refreshing and invigorating. Whether you knit, play chess, participate in a Rotisserie Baseball League or whatever–a hobby gives you an outlet for your talents and energies. A great hobby can get you into a “flow state” and boost your mood. It can get you socialized and build your network, which can be important if you feel isolated and alone. When you get to work at something you’re good at, you will feel more engaged with life. You will be less likely to “dread the day” and more flexible and open.

If you have no hobbies, go on a hunt for at least one–preferably one that you can do without physical taxing yourself and one that involves being with other people.

If you already have a hobby that you love, brainstorm ways to get back to doing your hobby on a regular basis.

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.

No “Easy Button” for Social Security Disability Benefits Problems

March 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a Social Security Disability beneficiary — or perhaps more accurately, ‘would-be’ beneficiary — you’re hoping for easy answers.

You would like some person or entity to eliminate all the myriad stresses and make your life simpler. Unfortunately, because everything in your life feels so chaotic right now, you’re likely far more vulnerable to look for “easy buttons” — dangerous quick fixes.

You’re in a precarious position because of this yearning. Just peruse the web for countless examples of senior citizens — and sick and injured people — who’ve fallen victim to despicable “investment schemes” and other con games because they wanted to believe that someone, somewhere had “all the answers.”

So what can you do about your heightened vulnerability?

Unfortunately, you may not be able to eliminate all — or even most — of the uncertainty in your life. Certainly, no single blog post or even consultation with a qualified North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm will take care of all your problems.

But just being aware of your vulnerability can help. The awareness can inoculate you against false hopes, scam artists, and nonstrategic behavior.

By becoming aware, you can not only guard yourself better but also regain a sense of control. That’s very important. When you’re hurt and sick and without substantial financial means, you can easily feel at the mercy of forces beyond your control. When your primal need to exert influence on your environment does not get met, your life can feel pretty awful.

The point here is two-fold:

1. Your vulnerability can put you at risk for problems with your Social Security Disability case. Protect yourself by becoming aware of when and how you exhibit this vulnerability.

2. Your lack of control, in and of itself, can create stress and emotional problems. The more you can reassert control over your situation — even if only by minute actions — the better you’ll feel.

For a thorough consultation with an experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm, connect with DeMayo Law team today at 1.877.529.1222.

Hypochondria and the Social Security Disability Beneficiary: Part II — Strategies

March 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a hypochondriac who’s in desperate need of Social Security Disability benefits to pay for critical care, drugs and therapies, living expenses, and so forth, you face a peculiar bind.

On the one hand, you are sick — sick enough to qualify for government assistance and maybe so sick/disabled that you may never return to your former employment or quality of life.

On the other hand, you know your anxiety about your health is, at least in some sense, overblown — or at least unproductive. Even if you have something terminal, you want to be able to live your life without being constantly bombarded with negative thoughts and fears. In other words, you would like to increase the efficacy of your thinking and reduce the ambient noise and drama of it.

Here are a few ideas for how to think more constructively.

1. If you haven’t started journaling, start journaling, ASAP.

We’ve talked a lot on this North Carolina Social Security Disability blog about why people should journal and how people should journal. But the message needs repeating. Your minute to minute mental chatter can lead you into a kind of mental cul-de-sac. You wind up making the same observations and having the same thoughts again and again — and these observations and thoughts are neither pleasant, nor particularly constructive.

When you journal, on the other hand, you can spit these observations and thoughts out onto paper and manage them in a more objective fashion, much as you might manage the complaints and fears of a close friend who came to you for help. Journaling also helps you track your symptoms, feelings, and fears. By gathering data, you can begin to make resourceful choices.

First of all, you have a record to show your physician, so he or she can reassess or refine your treatment based on what’s working or what isn’t working for you. Secondly, you can adjust your own routines and behaviors to be more constructive. For instance, maybe you discover, through journaling, that you can stop the hypochondria by watching your favorite movie or getting on the phone with your mom or whatever.

2. Research and learn about the condition as something apart from your main illness/injury.

When you are legitimately sick or hurt, it’s easy to come to believe that your hypochondriacal thoughts are always legitimate because you really DO need to be vigilant about your health. But you might find it resourceful to conceptualize the problem differently. You might also benefit from getting psychological treatment to work on your anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, or whatever else may be stimulating the hypochondriacal response.

3. Get clarity on your SSD benefits situation.

When people endure uncertainty, they tend to feel stress and anxiety, and this strain can translate into somatic symptoms, which can provoke hypochondriacal responses and even cause physical damage due to the excess cycling of cortisone or other stress hormones.

When you work with an experienced Social Security Disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, you may gain clarity on your benefits situation, which can cascade down to relieve some of the stress and anxiety.

For help understanding what to do about your benefits, get in touch with us today at 1.877.529.1222 for a friendly and free consultation.

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.

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

February 28, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

One tool to use is creative improvisation.

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

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

Let’s talk through an example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 21, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Private Detective Indicted on Social Security Disability Fraud Charges

February 19, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on your blessings.

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

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

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

February 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

1. Be honest, forthcoming, and fully disclosing.

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

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

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

3. Ask for diverse help.

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

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

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

February 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Cutting out junk food — and focusing on food quality

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

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

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

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

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

3 Tragic Mistakes Many North Carolina Social Security Disability Applicants Make

February 5, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Applying for Social Security Disability should not be rocket science.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Letting Go Of Your Social Security Disability Fears: A Surprisingly Simple Tactic

January 29, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

What is that you fear most about your quest for Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina?

If you’re like most people who’ve been diagnosed with a scary disease or who’ve been incapacitated, multiple sources of fear challenge you. You may feel almost paralyzed by the scary “what if’s?” floating through your mind. You know you need to take action on your claim — to get started with the paperwork; or to appeal, if you got rejected. But you are so overwhelmed and flustered that you can’t even get going.

When our fears crouch in the darkness, unclarified in our minds, they control us and lead us to miss out on positive opportunities. Life itself is a fundamentally vulnerable and risky act. Every one of us will die. Every one of us fears similar fundamental things, like heights and loud noises. These mental alarms are in-bred, and they serve a function. It’s good that we’re afraid of heights, since that fear protects us from meandering off of cliffs or highway overpasses.

On the other hand, our fears, badly managed, lead us towards dysfunction and paralysis.

Here’s a simple exercise to at least begin to come to grasp with what’s holding you back. It takes just 10 minutes or so. It’s a kind of free form writing. Here’s what you do. Open up a Word document, or crack open your handwritten journal, and write this question: “What am I afraid will happen regarding my Social Security Disability claim?”

Spend several minutes writing down anything that comes to your mind. Don’t worry about censoring yourself. Just write as much as you can. You might write things as diverse as “I am afraid that I’ll die; I am afraid that I won’t have enough money to buy Jimmy a nice birthday present; I am afraid that even an experienced Charlotte Social Security Disability law firm won’t be able to help me.”

Allow yourself to dump all your thoughts onto the document. You might be surprised by how few fears you ultimately “dredge up.” Typically, one or two fears cause 90% of the total distress. For instance, two common fears include: fear of financial catastrophe and fear of death. Surfacing your fears won’t make them go away. But you might be surprised by the immediate sense of relief that you’ll feel just by getting them down on paper.

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.

Why Don’t My Friends and Family Understand How Hard It Is to Live on Social Security Disability?

January 22, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Social Security Disability claimants — or would-be claimants — are often greeted with a surprising lack of empathy from friends, colleagues, and even family members.

People close to you may intellectually appreciate that you’re struggling with a serious illness. But that intellectual understanding may not translate into loving or tender care. This is especially true if you suffer from a debilitating mental condition, such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety. When people can see that you’ve been injured — e.g. you can no longer walk; or your hair is falling out due to chemotherapy — they tend to be more understanding. But when they cannot see visible signs of your pain, they can become surprisingly impatient. This also happens to back pain sufferers. Back pain can be felt (excruciatingly), but others cannot easily “see” the injury.

This lack-of-empathy problem can be particularly devastating, if you have a history of ailments or other “issues.” For instance, perhaps you owe child support payments. Your ex-spouse may accuse you of exaggerating or even making up your illness to win sympathy and get out of paying your share. Or maybe you have a history of a drug and alcohol addiction. People in your life may believe that you’re “indulging” your injury/illness as a kind of side effect of your rehab or treatment.

Avoid getting caught up in other people’s expectations or judgments!

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Truth be told, you may find it very difficult to make active, accurate progress on your Social Security Disability case by yourself, especially given your lack of knowledge regarding “best practices” for filing a claim. Rather than start off at a disadvantage, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team today for a free consultation about your rights and potentially diverse remedies. Our team can provide the support you desperately need to get a handle on what you’ve been going through.

Succeeding with Your Social Security Disability Claim in 2013

January 15, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s a New Year and a fresh start, but if you’ve spent a long time in the queue for a social security disability in North Carolina or elsewhere, you may not feel terribly enthusiastic about 2013. That’s understandable. 2012 was likely a harder than expected year for you and your family — you might have been diagnosed with a serious illness out of the blue, and/or you might have experienced crushingly bad news about your claim and overall finances. To bounce back effectively, you need to do two things:

1. You need to avoid fooling yourself about the reality and severity of your situation.

2. You need to develop and focus on positive goals to move forward.

Unfortunately, many social security disability beneficiaries resist setting goals because they figure “why bother” dreaming big when so much has already gone wrong? You feel pressure to avoid raising your expectations, only to see them dashed.

Rather than abandoning making resolutions – or even setting short-term goals – for fear of failure, consider the following alternative. Instead of just picking an ambitious goal and “going for it” — be it a goal to collect fair benefits within the next several months or to get yourself healthy and fit by the end of 2013 — focus on removing the OBSTACLES to achieving your ideal life.

That’s a subtle distinction!

What’s the difference between focusing on a great outcome and focusing on removing the obstacles to that outcome? The difference is — or at least it can be — nothing short of life changing. When you ruminate on the obstacles in your way to your goal, you invite your inner pessimist to participate in the process of goal setting/attainment with you. This is useful because the inner pessimist can subconsciously hold you back.  When leveraged successfully, your pessimist can alert you to key details that you might gloss over if you proceeded in overly polyanna-ish manner. By focusing on obstacles, you can figure out ways to blast through them or go around them. You may also creatively change your goal/objectives to make them more achievable, based on a more sober read of your situation.

In our next blog post, we’ll dive deeper into this concept using a real world example or two, to help you make immediate progress towards getting what you want and regaining a sense of control over your future.

2013 can represent a new beginning for you, for your family, for your health, and for your finances. If you need help with your Charlotte social security disability claim, the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can provide a free thorough consultation. Find out more about us online, and get in touch with us now to start this year off on the right foot.

Persistence: A Magic Word for Getting Through Your Social Security Disability Crisis

January 10, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been flabbergasted by the disorganization of the Social Security Disability system, you have company!

Sadly, more and more Americans every year apply for disability. Experts debate why. One factor is demographic: as the Baby Boomer generation ages and retires at a rapid rate, the social safety net feels more weight. Other problems lurk. For instance, rates of degenerative diseases of civilization, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes), have reached epidemic proportions. The spike in preventable chronic diseases has really taxed the Federal government’s infrastructure.

Other potential reasons for the Social Security Disability “mess” include:

•    Bureaucratic incompetence;
•    Insurance company shenanigans;
•    Bad doctors and hospital processes;
•    Undereducated patients

The theoretical dynamics may be interesting, in an academic sense, but you don’t have much time/interest in parsing theory. You lack the time, energy or wherewithal to figure out the “big picture” problems — you just want fair compensation, a simple procession through the system, and honest and clear communication.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you gain clarity on your Social Security Disability situation. Whether you’re scrambling to prepare for Reconsideration or an Administrative Law Judge hearing — and you’re baffled by the process — or you’re still just investigation your diagnosis, our team can candidly, empathetically help you get clear and stay on course with a responsible strategy.

Persistence — hard-headedness even — can be a great weapon, as you face down your diverse Social Security Disability related problems. But you must combine persistence with intelligence. It’s great to “refuse to back down” regarding your health and welfare. But you also want to avoid reinventing the wheel. The DeMayo Law team possesses deep and practical knowledge of how to make the system work. Even if we can’t force the system to “play fair” instantly, we can introduce you to best practices and get you feeling a lot more confident about what your future might hold. Connect with us today for a complimentary consultation.

Is the North Carolina Social Security Disability Debate Poised to Move in a Radically New Direction?

January 8, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many policy wonks who study Social Security Disability in North Carolina and beyond believe that change to the SSD program will come glacially.

Yes, more people enter the queue every year. Yes, financial and bureaucratic problems persist. Yes, some extremely vulnerable people receive horrible care. But most experts still believe that the system will only change gradually. There will never be a lightning-quick “flash point” that will send the Social Security Disability system in a radically new direction.

But perhaps our confidence in such a gradual evolution is misplaced!

Here’s why. A bit of background, first:

In evolutionary theory, biologists recognize two discrete types of evolution: graduated and punctuated. In graduated evolution, species or other objects (e.g. memes or computer programs) change incrementally in response to selection pressures. Tens of millions of years ago, for instance, humans, dogs, and cats all likely had a common evolutionary ancestor. Over the glacial process of natural selection, our three species split off and gradually grew distinct. There was no moment in time where a dog-man gave birth to a dog, for instance, or something similarly extreme.

Punctuated evolution, however, also exists! It also explains many phenomena in nature, economics and beyond. Punctuated evolution is dramatic – like a lightning strike. For instance, according to author Julian Jaynes, human consciousness evolved via a punctuated evolutionary process. In the “Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,” Jaynes argues that human evolution had been proceeding along at a stately pace, when, all of a sudden, consciousness emerged, almost instantly. Something from nothing. Deux ex machina.

Getting back to the Social Security Disability system… perhaps we can find analogues to punctuated evolution in the world of policy. For instance, the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers radically and decisively altered America’s foreign policy. In an instant, everything shifted. Likewise, the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut may have already radically altered the national political conversation about gun control.

It stands to reason that an unforeseeable event may similarly radically change the Social Security Disability Program.

All this theoretical stuff may be interesting, but if you’re sick or injured, you want answers, not speculation. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to discuss your case and give you a step-by-step, guided strategy to maximize your quest for Social Security Disability benefits.

Waiting and Waiting and Waiting for Your Social Security Disability Claim

January 3, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

An illness rendered you sick and unable to work. You’re desperate for Social Security Disability benefits. How difficult will it be to make a claim? Will you ever get over the illness and move on with the rest of your life?

The Social Security Disability system is surprisingly complicated, and the queue for benefits seems to be getting longer each year. You can find ways around the traffic jam — such as the Compassionate Allowances program, which helps very sick people (e.g. those diagnosed with late stage cancers) “skip ahead” in the queue. But many people who desperately need benefits often do not receive attentive, empathetic care from the system. This lack of care can create all sorts of additional stresses and even worsen the primary illness/injury.

So what should you do?

First of all, consider obtaining allies on your quest to claim benefits. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo has tremendous experience helping people like you get Social Security Disability in North Carolina. We are ethical, effective, and resourceful. We can also hook you up with additional resources to make your situation significantly less challenging and scary.

Even with best care, and a great law firm on your team, you may find your situation perplexing at times. To gain clarity and calm, spend time thinking about what you want to achieve in your life regarding your health, finances and other goals.

What would “life success” look like to you?

Focus on images of what you want to bring into your life, and brainstorm shortcuts to reaching that nirvana. Obviously, your focusing on a pleasant outcome will not necessarily wish such an outcome into existence! But far too many Social Security Disability claimants (and would be claimants) spend far too much time focusing on what they don’t have or what they have lost.

That kind of pessimistic, “I don’t have enough” thinking can harm you and make you depressed. Understand that you have agency. The more that you exercise your sense of control over your environment — and future — the more empowered you will feel, and the better choices you’ll make.

3 Resourceful Things You Can Do While Waiting for Your Social Security Disability Claim to Go Through

January 1, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re in the throes of preparing for an Administrative Law Judge hearing or Reconsideration, or you’re just starting out on your journey to get Social Security Disability (in North Carolina or elsewhere), you may need to prepare for a long, uphill battle. How can you make the most productive use of this time?

Here are three pretty cool ideas.

1. Consider reducing the amount of sugar you consume… or at least significantly curtailing it.

Sugar is woven into the fabric of American culture. Every holiday, it seems, is another excuse to eat sugar. On Valentine’s Day, you have Valentine’s Day chocolates. On Thanksgiving, you get sweet potatoes with brown sugar. Christmas is time for Christmas cookies. And Halloween – well, basically the entire point of that holiday is to eat sugar. Unfortunately, as much we love and crave the stuff, compelling science suggests that sugar may be extremely bad for our health and may be a primary cause of insulin resistance, which is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and beyond.

2. Get enough sunlight.

Obviously, you don’t want to sit out in the sun until you bake and get sun burned. However, a lack of sunlight can lead to Vitamin D deficiency. Especially if you’re sick or ill and waiting for Social Security Disability, find time to spend time outside.

3. Journal – a lot – about diverse topics.

What are our recurring patterns? What do we do, day to day, that helps or hinders our health, thoughts, relationships, and other dynamics? The more we understand ourselves — what makes us tick, what we like, what we don’t like — the more control we’ll enjoy over our experiences. When you journal regularly, you also may begin to understand what “stuff” flairs up your injury or illness and what stuff helps you feel better. The more accurately you can recognize these patterns, the more you can engage in productive behaviors. It’s a self perpetuating cycle.

Regaining Autonomy in an Out of Control Environment

Human beings possess a fundamental need to feel in control. When you’re stuck in the queue for Social Security Disability — and you can’t figure out what to do next to make more progress — you can easily feel powerless. These three almost universally applicable tools allow people to reassert control. By eating slightly less sugar — or potentially cutting out sucrose from the diet all together — you’ll at the very least eliminate a source of “empty calories” and, at best, protect yourself against an array of medical problems. If you get slightly more sun — you don’t need to be a Brazilian model or a buff Venice Beach weightlifter — the light may boost your mood and help you produce more natural Vitamin D. If you journal — you don’t have to write deep introspective monologues every day — you will become more in touch with yourself, your feelings, your likes and dislikes, and your other needs.

To exert even more control over your environment, get in touch with the diligent, experienced law team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a consultation now.

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 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.

The Importance of Considering Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Case from Multiple, Novel Angles

December 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re vexed by a problem regarding your Social Security Disability benefits.

Maybe you’ve tried and failed to get on the Compassionate Allowances list. Perhaps your benefits have been denied – or they are on the verge of being denied. Alternatively, perhaps you have been able to collect some money, but you’re unsure how to protect those benefits and carefully follow all the rules, so that you maintain your safety net.

Most beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) lack perspective on the depth and breadth of their medical and financial challenges. They also lack the time and energy to think effectively about them. As a result, they wind up defaulting into old patterns, which deliver old results.

As Albert Einstein and other great thinkers have pointed out, to get fundamentally different results from a system or process, you need to approach that system or process from a perspective that’s fundamentally novel.

Outsourcing to experts can be a way to break through.

For instance, say you’ve been struggling to collect benefits or understand even how the SSD process works. Consider outsourcing that task to a trusted North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm. Or maybe you’ve been having trouble budgeting your living expenses. Perhaps you could outsource that task to a personal financial advisor.

To get new solutions, you need not always solicit the services of outside experts, however!

You can also “work this process” yourself, but you need to do so in a very specific, structured way. The brain uses two different cognitive apparati to solve problems: the brainstorming brain “goes diverse” to generate options, and the analytical brain hones and tests these options.

If you mix brainstorming and analyzing, you are likely to get a muddle. To gain new perspective on your current problems, first spend some time just brainstorming. Focus your question before you start brainstorming. “How can I get my cost of living down?” is far less evocative than a more specific question like “How can I get my monthly fixed expenses under $5,000 a month?” The more specificity you add – and the most constraints you put on your goal – the easier it will be to come up with novel, innovative, and potentially hugely powerful solutions.

Of course, you need not go through this process by yourself. Connect with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for detailed, compassionate assistance with your Social Security Disability problem.

How Can You Spend Money on Christmas Gifts When You Haven’t Even Collected Your Social Security Disability Benefits?

December 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Christmas time approaches, and it can be a challenging time for injured and sick people who are in need of North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits.

On the one hand, you want to exhibit your custom generosity and purchase gifts for friends and loved ones (and possibly for yourself!) On the other hand, you need to maintain a strict budget, especially if you have yet to learn whether you’ll qualify for benefits.

So you need to be frugal. But you also don’t want to be a scrooge, and giving gifts makes you feel good.

Substantial scientific research suggests that altruism – so-called “giving from the heart” – can have medically salutary effects. Altruism can boost immune function, lead to more clearheaded decision making, and improve perceived quality of life.

It may be possible to achieve both goals – to give generously AND maintain a strict leash on your spending. You’re just going to need to be a little more creative this year.

For instance, instead of buying presents for people, consider writing handwritten thoughtful cards or poems. If that’s too challenging, consider just volunteering your time. You don’t need to lift anything or “do work” for other people – just lending an empathetic ear can be an incredibly powerful gift, for instance, if you’re too weak to get out of your bed or leave your house/apartment.

Searching for ways to satisfy both your need to give generously and your need to conserve your money constitutes an example of what business thinker Jim Collins would call “The Genius of the AND.” Collins writes books for “corporate types” and business builders, but many of his principles apply broadly to diverse areas of life.

If you need North Carolina social security disability, you might benefit a lot from thinking deeply about his “Genius of the AND” idea – which, simply put, suggests that successful people often embrace paradoxically optimistic points of view to help them through life’s challenges.

All that said, odds are that you are in a difficult place right now, and you just want the simplest, most proven path to success regarding your benefits. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you. Our well-trained, battle-tested team will be happy to answer your questions and provide a free, powerful evaluation of your SSD or supplemental security income case.

How to Solve a Terrifying Social Security Disability Benefits Dilemma? (‘Sell Yourself’ An Hour A Day)

November 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As someone who has been injured or diagnosed with a serious illness, you’re desperate for help with your Social Security Disability claim. You may need outside resources, like an experienced law firm, such as DeMayo Law, to help you navigate the shoals of the SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) system. You may also need to call in favors from your spouse, your family, your employer, and even peripheral friends and loved ones to get through the challenging months (perhaps years) ahead.

Unfortunately, all too many Social Security Disability claimants develop a pathological mentality about their situations. This ‘victim mentality’ can lead them not only to make bad decisions but also to suffer depression, anxiety, and self-esteem issues.

The reality is this: you may be sick and low energy. You may not have many resources at hand. But you can still leverage your own insights, over time, in a systematic way, to improve your life and deal with your problems.

This isn’t to say that you should (or can) figure out your problems on your own. However, you will likely see a world of difference if you adopt just the following powerful self-improvement habit:

Sell yourself one hour every day to think, reflect, and create a better life.

This trick is used by the most brilliant high performers in all types of human endeavor, from Olympics sports to high stakes business to politics. Great performers take responsibility for their fates and invest in knowledge, introspection, coaching, etc., to “problem-solve” themselves.

Now, you may be so enfeebled or depressed or time-strapped that you may only have 2-3 hours a day during which you can function productively. If that’s the case, maybe you will need to ‘sell yourself’ only 15 or 20 minutes a day. But just make sure you ‘hoard’ some time and energy to give to yourself, so that you can do things like: write in a journal; reflect on where you want your life to be five years from now; and analyze your recurring problems better.

You likely won’t see instant results with this kind of technique. But if you persist will selling yourself an hour a day, over months or years, you will develop deeper and deeper insights into your own yearnings, fears, hopes and habits. And this self knowledge will in turn allow you to make far better decisions not only with respect to your Social Security Disability case but also with respect other diverse problems you encounter in life.

So Obamacare Lives But What About Social Security Disability, SSI, and Other Programs?

November 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

With President Obama’s surprisingly vigorous defeat of Mitt Romney in the November 6 election, pundits, policymakers, and Social Security Disability beneficiaries everywhere are speculating on what the next administration will do or at least attempt.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware that North Carolina was one of only two states that ‘flipped’ from its 2008 results in the Presidential election. Prior to voting day, we talked about how dangerous it can be to get wrapped up in macroscopic discussions about Social Security Disability in North Carolina or elsewhere  at the expense of paying attention to your own personal journey to wellness and financial security.
The reelection of Obama does have potentially immediate ramifications for your situation.

For instance, had the Republicans triumphed in the presidential race, and had they overtaken the Dems in the Senate, then the Affordable Health Act – colloquially known as Obamacare – would likely have been headed for the chopping block  or at least for significant modifications.

The prognosis for our healthcare system would be extremely different from what it is today.

As it stands, on November 16, many ambitious and meaningful aspects of Obamacare go into effect. Some claimants or would-be claimants will likely enjoy the fact that, pretty soon, insurance companies not be allowed to discriminate against folks on the basis of their preexisting conditions. Others will be less thrilled with Obamacare for various reasons.

We could go on for pages about the arguments and counterarguments about what Obamacare’s survival means. But just recognize that the system is changing in certain ways. It’s important to stay abreast and understand specifically what you need to do to improve your situation.

You don’t need to understand all the dynamics involved; you just need to understand what’s important to you. If you’re a 37-year-old on Social Security Disability claimant, you don’t need to pay attention to stuff that only applies to claimants who are over 65, to give an obvious example.

That said, even if you restrict yourself thusly, you can still get confused and overwhelmed. There is a lot to know! Turn to the team here at DeMayo Law for experienced, patient, and systematic guidance with your mission to get collect your claim.

3 Signs You Need Help from a North Carolina Social Security Disability Law Firm

November 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been dazzled or confused about the Social Security Disability system, a specialized North Carolina law firm might be a great ally in your quest for justice and fairness. Certain people need legal help more than others.

Here are 3 signs that you likely should get legal help ASAP:

1. Your initial attempts to get compensation have backfired.

Maybe you failed to understand eligibility requirements. Perhaps your claim was denied because you poorly executed your paperwork. Or maybe there is a deeper, more subtle reason that a well-equipped law firm can surface and resolve.

2. You’re disorganized — unable to track critical calendar reminders.

Especially in tricky cases — involving claim denials and stringent eligibility requirements — you could be at risk of making a critical error or omission. Many Charlotte Social Security Disability claimants (or would be claimants) are exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed, physically, and even cognitively impaired. If you have any of those problems, you can benefit from talking to a strategic law firm.

3. You’re unaware of mission critical legal or filing guidelines, eligibility requirements, etc.

Unfortunately, in the “game” of Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income, what you don’t know can hurt you. Theoretically, the system should be navigable even by uneducated, fatigued, and unsavvy citizens. But in practice, the SSD bureaucracy is complicated, and you may benefit hugely from good guidance.

Whether you retain the services of the DeMayo Law team or not, consider seeking legal help with your case, particularly if you face any complex or uncertain issues. “Complexities” often emerge only after you’ve started down the process.

Why It’s Important to Find Good Help Now — Not Later

Your ability to obtain appropriate benefits can have profound ramifications not only in terms of your ability to keep your house, get good medical care, and control over your finances, but also in terms of managing your overall state of mind during these challenging times.

Charlotte Social Security Disability Thought Experiment: In an Alternative Universe, You Won the Presidential Election. Who Cares?

November 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most blogs about Social Security Disability in Charlotte and beyond focus on the narrow nitty-gritty of the SSD and SSI claims process. For instance:

•    Best practices for what to do at Reconsideration or at an Administrative Law Judge hearing;
•    How to interpret and execute necessary paperwork;
•    How to apply for the Compassionate Allowances program;
•    Etc.

These nuts and bolts issues are very important, and we try to address them from different angles here at this blog.

However, there is a hidden danger that waylays all too many Social Security Disability claimants. And that is this: when you have too many options for how to solve a problem or pursue a goal, your ability to get things done degrades instead of improves.

This is paradoxical.

You’d think that the more ìstuffî you throw at a problem, the better results you’d get. Not necessarily. As books like The Paradox of Choice and Stumbling on Happiness showcase, our ability to understand how our decisions will play out is horrendous. Moreover, examining too many scenarios — taking information from too many different sources — can have deleterious effects, not only on your general wellbeing but also on your capacity to move forward.

This brings us to the metaphorical title of this blog post: According to certain incarnations of quantum field theory, every possible universe exists simultaneously in different quantum dimensions. The physics underlying this theory is obviously beyond the scope of this blog; you can Google it, if you’re interested. The point is that this theory allows for a prolific and essentially wasteful universe, in which abnormal things happen an infinite number of times.

The recent election pitted President Obama vs. Governor Romney. In other quantum universes, YOU personally won the election for President, even though you were just sitting at home worrying about your Charlotte Social Security Disability benefits the night before.

In that universe, today, you are getting briefed by your soon-to-be Presidential advisors, and pundits everywhere are going bananas trying to understand how you won. According to quantum theory, that scenario has happened not just once but an infinite number of times in an infinite number of universes. It sounds wasteful, and improbable, but that’s what the theory says.

But if you spent any amount of time entertaining that premise — planning for it in any way — you would obviously be wasting your time. The odds of it happening are vanishingly small. The point is that you need to focus on the ìstuffî in your life that’s going to make a difference – that’s going to give you the best probability not only of winning your claim but also of fixing and improving your life.

The odds of you being able to divine “best practices” regarding your legal strategy on your own are also slim to none, even if you’ve taught yourself a little bit about the Social Security Disability system. You gain leverage when you work with experienced (and successful!) lawyers, such as the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries to Get “Pay Bump” — But a Shockingly Low One (1.7%)

November 1, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re on Social Security Disability in North Carolina, get set for a small pay bump come January.

Over 56 million people in the United States collect Social Security. They will be receiving a 1.7% pay hike – little less than $20 a month – in 2013. This may sound like good news, but it’s actually the lowest hike (to adjust for inflation) since 1975.

Simultaneously, 10 million people who still work and who make above the cut-off income of $110,100 will need to pay more in Social Security taxes next month. This cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) typically averages just over 4%. This super low 1.7% increase may challenge family planners.

Struggling with a North Carolina Social Security disability issue can be hard, whether you are wrestling with a serious illness or injury or you are simply financially flustered and unsure how to begin to respond to, say, the looming prospect of an Administrative Law Judge hearing.

The tested, trusted team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can educate you, support you, and give you the structured support to protect your interests, financially speaking and otherwise. Get in touch with the DeMayo team today for a free consultation.

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

October 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being Young and on Social Security Disability in Charlotte or Elsewhere

October 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

Schools of thought about this abound.

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

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

You don’t necessarily need to choose between them!

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

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

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

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

October 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Could the Launch of NuSI Mark the Beginning of the End of Our North Carolina Social Security Disability Struggles?

September 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Everyone wants to know: when will the Social Security disability system be fixed?

Well, on one hand, the situation is obviously mindbogglingly complicated. The number of stakeholders, diversity of problems, and number of competing theories about what to do and how to do it could easily fill up half the internet.

On the other hand, certain themes emerge, when you study policy proposals. One of the themes is the crushing burden of obesity and chronic disease on our healthcare system and infrastructure.

North Carolinians and Americans are trapped in twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, and these two diseases are closely linked with other chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Obesity alone is estimated to ravage national economy to something along the lines of $150 billion a year.

But what if we’re wrong about the very CAUSE of obesity?

And what if, as a result of that fundamental error, we’ve inadvertently caused the crippling of the North Carolina Social Security disability system?

Furthermore, if we have gotten some of the “big picture” stuff wrong, could innovations in science and policy based on a more correct perception of the problem help staunch and even reverse damage done to our healthcare system and thus make programs like Social Security disability more solvent?

We may soon find out.

A bold new non-profit, the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), launched last week to explore fundamental questions about obesity and chronic disease. The founders, science journalist Gary Taubes and Dr. Peter Attia, believe that a lot of the research conducted in the fields of obesity and chronic disease has been poorly designed and poorly controlled. According to Dr. Attia and Taubes, this rash of “bad science” may be impeding us from solving our obesity and chronic health problems because our health authorities have been encouraging Americans to eat the wrong types of foods to prevent/treat obesity.

Funded by a powerful hedge fund out of Texas, NuSI has coordinated some of the most talented scientists and researchers in obesity and chronic disease to engage in truly rigorous scientific experiments to suss out the true causes (and potential cures) of obesity.

It’s exciting times. If NuSI succeeds, we all succeed, our future may be a lot brighter — and lighter! — than many of the doomsdayers would have you believe.

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.

What the Ravens’ Crushing 44-13 Victory Over the Bengals Can Teach You about Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Case

September 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness or just waylaid by a horrible injury, the last thing you need is drama over your Charlotte Social Security Disability situation. Unfortunately, the queue for government benefits (including Social Security Disability, supplemental security income, etc) seems to be getting longer every year, as more and more North Carolinians and Americans face problems like obesity, diabetes, and other “Western diseases.”

Perhaps your claim has been rejected, or perhaps you face an Administrative Law Judge hearing or Reconsideration. But in any event, it’s hard, and you’re sick, and you just want a break.

You might find inspiration from a surprising source – the sports news headlines.

Last Monday, the Baltimore Ravens rebounded from a heartbreaking season ending loss to the Patriots in the AFC championships to trounce the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 44 to 13. Quarterback Joe Flacco turned in one of the most aggressive offensive performances of his career, stunning some NFL analysts, who believed that last year’s play-off devastation would have crippled Baltimore’s confidence.

The lesson here, if you’re searching for Social Security Disability in North Carolina or elsewhere, is that resilience counts.

Yes, you’ve had horrible setbacks. Yes, they might have been unfair, and you might be confused, disoriented, and ill. But don’t give up. Odds are, you have yet to do the metaphorical equivalent of turning over every stone and looking under every leaf to get benefits – and general help/resources – available to manage your problems.

Resiliency is a character trait that you can cultivate over time.

Substantial research suggests that resilient people tend not only to get what they want more, but they also tend to feel better about their outcomes, because they feel more in control of their environment. Be compassionate with yourself. Letting go of the past doesn’t come easy for anyone, and if you are in a pessimistic state right now, no single action that you will take — including retaining a well-respected firm like the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo – will make your pain go away overnight.

But understand that you may be radically underestimating your capacity not only to get benefits but also to rebound from your physical and financial setbacks. No one is saying “be a Pollyanna” – it’s important to face your financial and medical realities. Clear headedness is required. But it is possible to see clearly and also cultivate a core resiliency in your spirit. So keep fighting for your rights and nourish your soul by reading about big comebacks – like the Ravens’ victory (or comebacks involving your favorite sport teams).

Social Security Disability Reform: Obama vs. Romney Implications

September 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

We’re heading into the homestretch of election year 2012, and pundits on both sides of the aisle are contemplating what the big vote will mean for the future of social security disability here in North Carolina and elsewhere.

If the Obama-Biden ticket wins reelection, will that mean a relatively static outcome for the social security disability program and other government benefits programs? Or will team Obama take a different strategic approach in term two? Meanwhile, if the Romney-Ryan ticket wins, will they radically overhaul government programs based on Ryan’s budget and Ayn-Rand inspired capitalistic philosophy? Or will the Romney-Ryan team more or less perpetuate similar policies, despite the ideological differences they claim to have with the Obama campaign?

Missing the forest for the trees, perhaps?

It’s easy – especially during election season – to get ginned up about the implications of any one election (or one decision) for the North Carolina social security disability program. And it’s not like the political choices that we make (or do not make) as a country have no consequences for the program. But there are two hugely important points that pundits, policymakers, and would be Charlotte social security disability beneficiaries often fail to pay attention to when they contemplate the impassioned debates about government benefits:

1. It is exceptionally rare for any one moment or decision – in politics or in life – to have powerful long term consequences.

Social security disability is, in some sense, “its own animal.”

It’s evolving in its own way. The factors and elements involved are dynamic and diverse. No one “push on the wheel” in any direction – towards reform or towards expansion – will have profound long term effects. True big transitions in policy are often born of cumulative incremental effects.

Subtle forces build for months or years before any kind of breakthrough. For instance, consider that the concept of artistic “overnight success” – an unknown artist or writer “breaks through” and suddenly becomes the darling of Hollywood or of the book industry or whatever. Usually, when you look at the stories of individuals who become “overnight successes,” you will find that they have been laboring for years – possibly decades – in obscurity, honing their craft before breakthrough.

Likewise, changes in programs happen via the accumulation of incremental impacts, not via a single pull of a lever on Election Day.

2. It’s almost impossible to predict, in advance, how decisions will impact complex systems, like social security disability.

You might pull the lever for the Romney-Ryan ticket, in hopes that the Republicans will somehow constrain our government. But it’s really impossible to say whether your choice will have its intended results. Consider, for instance, what happened early in the summer, when a Republican appointee to the Supreme Court, John Roberts, “switched sides” from his ideological predilections to salvage “Obamacare.” Few Republicans had been expecting that one!

That point is that we all live in a somewhat chaotic environment, and we need help dealing with our issues, because the solutions are often very counterintuitive.

If you’re struggling with a benefits question, the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you put you on the right track and keep you there.

Surviving the Charlotte Social Security Disability Journey: Doing “The Last Thing You’d Ever Do” to Survive

August 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re facing a seriously desperate financial, medical, and even emotional situation, and you need North Carolina social security disability benefits to help make ends meet, pay doctor’s bills, and provide a buffer against the instabilities of your world. Truth be told, you have so many different and diverse “issues” in your life right now, it’s hard to know where to start. At the same time, you also have standards about what you will and will not do – values and other “rules of thumb” that help you govern your life and organize the chaos.

In times of trouble, it’s more important than ever to stick to your values.

All that being said, if you’re in a situation where you really need social security disability benefits or supplemental security income, you really need to start thinking creatively about how you can meet your needs with minimal resources.

First of all, given the limits on your time and energy, you might find it worthwhile to utilize a North Carolina social security disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, to make the process work for you.

Beyond that, however, you might want to brainstorm ways to more resourcefully meet your challenges. This might mean breaking some of the rules that you’ve set for yourself – either consciously or unconsciously – or at least testing them to see if there is any wiggle room.

For instance, maybe you and your sister had a falling out 20 years ago, and you “swore to yourself” that you would never speak to her again for the rest of your life. Your sister is well off financially, and if you hadn’t ever gotten into that fight, she would likely be a huge support for you right now. She and her husband might even offer you a place to stay while you recover, etc.

If something like that were the case, it would behoove you to test the rule that you made up 20 years ago. Is holding the grudge really worth needlessly putting yourself through extra struggle? Depending on your situation, it might be! But now is the time to go through your problems and examine how you might creatively solve them or get around them.

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.

North Carolina Social Security Disability: Do You Have a “Plan B”?

August 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You have learned, perhaps the hard way, that the quest for Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina (or elsewhere) can be a fraught and uncertain one. We all want clear and easy to follow, guaranteed solutions to our diverse life problems. But — except if you’re baking brownies or something — it’s hard to come up with a recipe that’s guaranteed to work every time.

Part of what holds many Social Security Disability beneficiaries back from greater success is that they come to believe in a fantasy that someone or something will be able to “take care of them and make everything better.”

This isn’t to say that a terrific doctor can’t make an enormous difference, or that a really respected, experienced law firm, like the team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo, cannot be a crucial resource for you.

But understand that your challenges are too diverse and prolific for a “one size fits all” solution.

Practical Implications of This Message

Most people would accept the argument just offered. But very few understand how to put it into action. The implications are very clear: you need a Plan B when you engage in a task or project of any size and complexity.

In other words, you currently hold a certain vision of how you want your benefits situation to play out. Perhaps you want X amount of money to come your way, starting within one month or two months: that’s your ideal outcome. It’s always better to have a strategic objective then to “fly blind,” since planning your ideal strategy can increase the likelihood that you will achieve what you want. On the other hand, life tends to surprise us with obstacles and opportunities at the least appropriate time. How we pivot to react to those opportunities and obstacles may be a core reason why some people fail and some people succeed.

To put that in more specific terms: say you’re depending on Social Security Disability to pay for your groceries and your at-home care and some medical bills. Your Plan A is to get the disability money and live your life. But you should also have a Plan B waiting in the wings. What would you do if you didn’t achieve your goals within your timeframe? What resources could you draw upon? What alternative arrangements could you make? How could you shortcut solutions to your problems?

Once you have a Plan A and Plan B, you will feel a lot more liberated when it comes to acting and responding to events on the ground. After all, if your Plan A doesn’t work out, you have a Plan B to fall back on: that knowledge can free you up to pivot faster and more effectively to the unknowns that the world is guaranteed to throw your way.

Making Small Changes to Reach Your Charlotte Social Security Disability Goals

August 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Leading a successful life after going on Social Security Disability in Charlotte, NC often requires that you make adjustments in your daily habits, thoughts, and behaviors.

A few simple, incremental improvements – when done repeatedly, over a long period of time – can create magnificent positive change in your life, even if you are struggling with an injury, financial problems, relationship issues, etc.

Understand that there is no one single “big push” that is going to get you towards a successful state of mind or “state of wallet” or what have you. Even if you make a big push – for instance, retain a top caliber Charlotte Social Security Disability law firm, like the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo – your problems will not be evaporated overnight.

Embrace the “small positive changes, done consistently over time, add up to big successes” mentality.

What’s nice about this mentality is that it liberates you from the feeling of “I have to get this done now, or else…” that afflicts all too many people who suffer from pain and discomfort in diverse areas of life. You are not going to get it all done at once. Think about it: your problems didn’t form all at once, did they?

So what incremental steps should you take, starting today?

Everyone’s “recipe” for successfully pursuing the incremental advantage will be different. But you might want to begin simply. Choose one area of your life where you want to improve. Choose one habit, which if you did consistently, would absolutely guarantee improvement in that area. Then simply pursue that one habit. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Just focus on that one thing that you know you need to do — the thing that will give you the most leverage over your problems, whatever they may be.

Then track your results in a daily journal and measure how you do.

For instance, say you are trying to lose weight, and you want to stay away from fattening carbohydrates, like bread and candy and soda. You know you eat way too many carbs. But you are terrified about giving them up all at once. You might try to slowly reduce the bad carbs you eat every day and track your progress. Eventually, ideally, you will get to a better intake, but the transition won’t be as jarring or dramatic for you.

Likewise, if you are trying to rehabilitate the strength in your legs in the wake of a surgery, just strive to make incremental improvement in your strength every week as opposed to turning into superman overnight. The key is twofold: 1) be consistent and 2) pick the right leverage points that will give you maximum utility over the long haul.

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.

Is North Carolina Social Security Disability “A Form Of Slavery”??

August 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Florida Congressman Allan West made a bold declaration in middle of July: He called the social security disability insurance system “a form of modern, 21st Century slavery.”

West had been rallying against President Obama’s economic policies — trying to build a case that federal benefits programs, like SSD and supplemental security income (SSI), create economic dependence and disincentive people from finding work and taking responsibility for their own welfare and economic betterment.

The social security disability system has taken a lot of rhetorical punches recently. But West’s hit marked a new kind of escalation.

On the one hand, his position is understandable. His position is sympathetic. Our entitlement system is knotted up. As you likely know from your personal quest to obtain Charlotte social security disability benefits, the queue can be long and complicated and confusing. Also, our programs are running out of money.

So it’s understandable to feel fed up with the process and to start looking for scapegoats, especially as more and more hurt and injured workers join the ranks of those seeking aid.

On the other hand, to denigrate social security disability as a kind of “slavery” seems to be both less than compassionate and less than accurate.

Social security disability is kind of a national insurance: you pay into it when you work. While of course some try to abuse the system – and some do succeed – it’s not at all fair to denigrate those who need the help as contributing to a slave-like system. Are really going to tell a woman who just discovered that she has late stage cancer — and who’s thus been crippled by medical problems and depression — that she is participating in a system of slavery simply by collecting much needed benefits?

Likely, that probably was not West’s intention.

But when you make radical, broad-brush statements like he did, you need to understand that you could be doing harm by accidentally intimidating people who need help.

Ensure that you are treated fairly. To get clear on your rights and responsibilities as a potential beneficiary, talk to the North Carolina social security disability team here at DeMayo Law. We are happy to provide a free, confidential consultation for you.

Social Security Disability Benefits: Do You Really Need Them?

July 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It might even sound odd for a prominent North Carolina social security disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, to suggest that you might want to think carefully about whether to pursue government benefits, like Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

But stop and ask yourself: do you need government help?

Have the courage to ask this question. To deal effectively with a medical or financial problem, you must strive to cultivate your own resourcefulness. Obviously, if you’re really sick or injured — or if you’ve been tackled by a variety of horrific obligations and/or bad life events — you need a safety net to pull you back to equilibrium.

On the other hand, it can be all too easy for would-be beneficiaries to give up control over their fate. To pass off the responsibility for success to some other party, agency, government bureaucracy, etc.

When you hand over your fate like that, you empower other people… and disempower yourself.

Once you begin to believe that it’s someone else’s responsibility to “take care of you” – you then in some sense lose a certain capacity to take care of yourself.

So what mindset do you possess? Do you have a “resourceful” perspective or not? If not, why not?

Whether or not you ultimately go after Charlotte Social Security Disability benefits, you need to be thinking in terms of “what can I do to make my situation better/easier/more livable?” Because there is no one who is going to be more interested in your outcome than you. At the end of the day, you are living your life – no one can live it for you.

So take time to introspect and ask yourself questions like:

•    What can I do to eliminate some of my financial burdens?
•    How can I slash my budget to make my financial life easier?
•    What information do I need to get next to deal with my injury/illness?
•    Who can help me figure out what needs to be done?
•    What are the real constraints holding me back in my finances, life, work, relationships, and personal development?

Changing your mindset to become a more self-reliant and self responsible person is never easy – particularly if you face a major and urgent medical crisis. But there may be no more crucial time to acquire this mentality.

In some ways, the ideal situation is somewhat paradoxical: you want to accumulate resources to help you deal with your problems – on the other hand, simultaneously, you want to cultivate a capacity to “do things on your own.”

For help planning your next steps, connect with the Charlotte Social Security Disability law firm of DeMayo Law for a free case evaluation.

Justice Roberts’ Surprising Move: Lesson for Your Social Security Disability Benefits Dilemma

July 26, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last week, in a stunning turn of events, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts – a Bush appointee – threw his vote in with SCOTUS’ “liberal wing” to save Obamacare by a five to four vote.

Roberts’ shocking decision threw conservative opponents to Obamacare for a loop. The reversal neatly illustrates a deep and powerful truth that can help you, if you or someone you care about is searching for a resolution to a North Carolina Social Security Disability problem.

Rather than dissect the Obamacare case – which is extremely intricate and obviously very politically charged – let’s focus on the most salient detail about the court’s ruling: very few people – including close case watchers – anticipated that the vote would happen as it did.

Most SCOTUS watchers focused on which way Justice Kennedy (the typical “swing vote”) would go. Would Kennedy side with the liberals or the conservatives? According to close observers of the case, Justice Kennedy had clearly been leaning towards the conservative wing.

Few anticipated that Roberts would “abandon” his conservative colleagues.

And this holds such an important and deep lesson! The lesson is that often the experts – the brilliant people who closely analyze a situation – can miss major clues about an outcome. Of course, in the aftermath, many insiders have gone on the record saying that they predicted that this would happen “all along”.

But really, what they are doing is reinventing their own narratives. Beware: this happens throughout life in different domains. Very few people anticipated that Al-Qaeda would attack the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, for instance. And very few people predicted that we would see a massive recession and the collapse of institutions like Lehman Brothers in 2008. Yes, sure, there were some accurate naysayers. But the experts’ record predicting at big events is generally not so great. Only “after do the fact” do they — and we — construct stories in our minds that make it seem is if these events were “inevitable.”

Here’s the bigger point. If the experts’ record at predicting the future is not so great, what might that mean about your own ability to predict the future? Assuming that you are not an expert in North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits, how accurate do you think your vision of how your case will play out might be?

This isn’t to say that you should abandon the advice of experts! Indeed, good resources, such as the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, can often help you solve problems that otherwise seem insolvable.

The bigger takeaway here is that your outcome may be less certain than you realize.

This is both good news and bad news. If you are a pessimist who believes that you are never going to get benefits — or that this may take months or years to settle — there is a likelihood that you are wrong. Conversely, if you think that your situation is simple — that it will only take a few days or few pieces of papers to sign — you also might be wrong. Embrace the uncertainty of your situation, and you will feel better and more prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

The North Carolina Social Security Disability Stories We Tell Ourselves: How True Are They?

July 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re a North Carolina worker just learning about Social Security Disability benefits in the wake of a scary medical diagnosis or a big injury; or you are someone who is already “knee deep” in the process, and you’re flailing to get a handle on what to do at Reconsideration or at an Administrative Law Judge hearing – you have likely told yourself many different stories about what your situation means and what will ultimately happen to you.

It’s probably worth it to surface these unconscious or subconscious stories and to evaluate whether the facts support the narrative.

What are some stories you might tell yourself?

•    ”The only way I am going to “win” is to retain the very top most North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm in the universe”
•    ”The system is so broken that, even if I succeed, I will wind up on a government benefits programs my entire life”
•    ”It’s totally not fair! The Compassionate Allowances program allows someone with terminal cancer to “skip the line,” while I have to wait in the normal queue and suffer – what I have is nearly just as bad!”
•    And so on and so forth.

Odds are that these stories – or others like them – are deeply informing your quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits.

Odds are, too, that you have yet to consciously surface most of these stories – much less assess whether they are true or logical in some objective way. But don’t be fooled. These narratives are almost certainly informing your behaviors, habits, emotions about your case, etc.

For instance, say you hold a belief that your whole situation is “just unfair” — deep in your gut, you believe that “nothing is going to work” or that the system’s going to get the better of you. You might consciously try hard to get results, but you might subconsciously engage in behavior – or fail to take certain actions – that will torpedo your goals. A secret subterfuge.

Surfacing your Social Security Disability “stories” and getting to the truth about them

Rather than let these stories wreak havoc on your emotions – or on your potential for success – why not get real and get honest about what stories you are telling yourself.

Surfacing these unconscious tales is surprisingly easy.

Just get out a piece of paper or open a computer file and start writing about your situation. What concerns you about your benefits quest? What do you think will happen? Who should you trust and who shouldn’t you trust? Ask yourself diverse questions about the experience, so you can get the deepest read into your subconscious.

Spend a while just getting these ideas down on paper (or on a word document) and then bookmark this site and come back in two days; we’ll talk about techniques for assessing your stories for validity – and moving past the ones that you deem not to be “valid.”

Embracing a Paradox about North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits

June 26, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What’s the best way to acquire, spend, and enrich your life vis-à-vis your North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits?

This question holds powerful subtleties worth study.

In fact, the entire quest for Social Security Disability is possibly best met by embracing a paradoxical mindset. On the one hand, you need to pursue your benefits as vigorously as possibly – ideally with the help of an experienced team, like the folks here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. On the other hand, however, you want to position yourself – and your finances – in a way that minimizes any negative impacts a bad outcome might yield for you.

Here is why this paradox possibly works:

It deals in reality

Your reality is that you are short of funds, possibly unable to work, possibly facing mounting medical bills, and challenged in many other ways. The more assets that you can collect, the better. Therefore, if an insurance company is causing you hassle, or if you’ve been stumped by an Administrative Law Judge hearing or problems at Reconsideration or whatever, you must aggressively go after your Charlotte Social Security Disability benefits.

It provides peace of mind

While it’s important to pursue benefits aggressively, however, if you become dependent on them – psychologically or otherwise – or, worse, dependent upon their promise – you surrender control over your life and your destiny. That’s damaging for a number of reasons. Psychologically speaking, a loss of control over your fate can make you less motivated. It can also hurt your immune system and make you more dependent on other people or entities.

Hidden “shortcuts” to resourceful living

Once you embrace the paradox that you need to push hard for benefits and also make yourself immune to the results, you then must look for ways to be resourceful about your situation. For instance, what could you do to slash your budget right now to make yourself less vulnerable, financially? Could you move in with a friend or a family member? Could you make your home heating system more efficient? Could you tap into some other asset or cancel vacation plans to reduce your expenses? Conversely, could you take on extra work to boost your income stream?

It’s really hard to work through these options on your own, particularly if you’re mired in a tough medical situation, unable to think clearly, and generally scared by your benefits quandary. That’s why outside resources can be so helpful.

The Dismantling of Al Qaeda: Lessons for North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

June 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are struggling with Reconsideration, an Administrative Law Judge hearing, or other aspects of the North Carolina social security disability quest, probably (hopefully) the last thing on your mind is international terrorism.

But often, we can learn critical lessons about our struggles by looking beyond our normal scope of inquiry. To that end, we’re going to take a look at a news development — regarding the American fight against the Al Qaeda terrorist network — and draw some pretty interesting lessons to help you gain perspective on your North Carolina social security disability issues.

Al-Libi reportedly killed in a drone strike – is U.S’s persistent mission finally paying off?

It’s now been over 11 years since the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on U.S. targets. Recent news from the front has been pretty positive, at least from the U.S.’s perspective. Two weeks ago, an unmanned U.S. predator drone killed Al-Libi, who reportedly had been elevated to Al Qaeda’s number two, after the U.S. killed Osama Bin Laden in a Special Forces raid last year.

The recent success in targeting the Al Qaeda leadership is notable for several reasons.

1.    First, it took the United States over a decade and millions of dollars to succeed.
2.    Secondly, the U.S. tactics and strategies changed many times over the course of the mission.
3.    Success happened due to perseverance and willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.

Those three lessons are very important because they are universal lessons. They are applicable not only to geopolitical problems but also to smaller scale (but no less important) personal problems that we face.

Back to North Carolina social security disability benefits.

When we employ those 3 lessons to proper effect; we can often see great results. When you are dealing with an illness and financial problems and potential battles with the legal system and other indirect consequences of your social security disability struggle, you need to FOCUS on the long-term strategies and keep the faith.

Of course, you can avoid “reinventing the wheel” and potentially save yourself lots of time and effort. The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you surface and deal with all the underlying issues that may be holding you back from getting the benefits you need right now to make the situation easier.

Charlotte Social Security Disability: Knowledge is Power…Or Is It?

June 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether your doctor just diagnosed you with a scary, long-term illness, and you’re just beginning your quest for Charlotte social security disability benefits – or you’re farther along on the journey – you probably have been told something along the lines of the following:

“To make the most of your benefits — to ensure a maximum result with minimal effort — you need to educate yourself about the social security disability system.”

Of course, the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo agrees with this general principle. On the other hand, we also want to identify and alert you to a potential problem that “self education” can create.

That problem is sneaky, it’s not often talked about.

“Knowledge is power” is true… but only sometimes, and the power can be “double edged.”

Discussions about the nature of knowledge can easily turn into rambling conversations about epistemology and philosophy, and you obviously want answers and actionable help – not speculative philosophy!

But it’s important for us to discuss what knowledge actually does for us – and what it doesn’t do.

Knowledge can empower, in that when you know the rules of the game, you can often get results faster. This is why an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm can often solve benefits-related problems that flummox “ordinary folk.” When you know how the system generally works, how to make insurance companies behave, how to talk to your doctor, and how to deal with setbacks, you are “empowered” in the sense that you can get a better likely outcome.

On the other hand, the wrong knowledge can actually take you in the wrong direction!

Being represented by a bad law firm, for instance, can often be worse than being represented by no law firm at all.

If you misunderstand a certain tactic – that is, if your knowledge is only partial instead of zero – you may take over confident measures that can get you in trouble. It’s like… a small child has no knowledge about how to drive a car, and so that child is not dangerous. But a teenager who just got her driver’s permit — who has some experience but not much! — can be quite dangerous.

Finally, too much knowledge is dangerous for other reasons. We need to filter what knowledge is important, what knowledge would be nice to know but not essential, and what knowledge we can ignore. Otherwise, we get overwhelmed and stressed.

This article is not meant to dissuade you from self-educating. Rather, it’s intended to highlight the importance of good guides.

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?

What If Your Quest for Your Social Security Disability Benefits in Charlotte Totally, Utterly Fails?

June 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s the question you need to ask yourself but probably don’t want to: what will happen if you don’t get a single dime from social security disability?

What would you do? How would you survive? How would you feel? Where would you next turn for help?

We bring these questions up not to make you feel uncomfortable or to give you the impression that your situation is unwinnable. Quite to the contrary. With the appropriate help from outside resources, like the team here at Michael A. DeMayo’s North Carolina social security disability law firm, you may discover that your situation is easier and simpler than you had realized.

But you never know.

And that’s why we collectively need to have this conversation. Why visit, even fleetingly, these “worst case scenarios”? The answer has to do with good planning. And also it has to do with issues of control. If you do not have a plan B – if you have not thought through the ramifications of what might happen if you do not succeed with your mission – then the stakes for you will feel higher than they actually might be.

So it’s not that your benefits quest is unimportant! But if you view it as an “all or nothing” “life or death” situation, you will feel more stressed throughout the process. You might also make impulsive decisions, which could ultimately endanger your chances of getting the best results. Unnecessary fears can paralyze us, cause us to stiffen up, and cause us to react with more stress than the moment requires.

Productivity author David Allen talks about trying to achieve a state of “Mind like Water,” where you react in a way that’s perfectly appropriate to the situation. In other words, you don’t want to underreact to a problem in your life. But you don’t want to overreact, either. You want that perfect reaction – just enough, but not too much.

This brings us back to the question of what you might do if you don’t get the results you want. In actual reality, if you don’t achieve your goals, you will almost certainly find ways around your problems. Let’s say you only get half the benefits that you crave. You will then find a way to either cut your costs, find help from somewhere else, or rejigger your budget and financial management plan to make things come together.

Life would go on, in other words — even if your situation would be less comfortable and less ideal than you want.

Just knowing on a visceral level that you will options can be incredibly freeing. This insight can help make the weeks and months ahead feel lighter and lead to more self compassionate.

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.

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

May 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Social about Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere

May 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wielding the double-edge sword

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

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

More Web Resources:

Using social media wisely

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

May 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Values

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

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

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

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

Vision

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Coming up with a clear vision for your ideal outcome

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

May 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Compassionate Allowances Program

When you are Being Jealous of Someone Who is Sick

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

May 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Doomsday Scenario about Social Security

Another Doomsday Scenario about Social Security

The Romney-Obama Battle: Implications for Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere

April 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the Republican primary, the battle lines for the fall Presidential election are basically drawn – Mitt Romney versus President Barack Obama. And the fallout of the 2012 clash of the titans could have significant impact on the future of social security disability in North Carolina and beyond.

Of course, or at least the two camps would like you to believe that!

Will the election impact programs like social security disability? If so, how and why? You can find different experts – or so called experts – who will weigh in with savvy, intelligent sounding answers to these questions. They will make prognostications about how different presidential election outcomes will impact government benefits programs in different ways. There may be wisdom in these forecasts. But it’s important not to have too much faith in them! After all, programs like supplemental security income, social security disability, Medicare, Medicaid, et cetera are behemoth enterprises. It’s hard to see how even relatively “major” events – like a presidential election decision – will influence their trajectories.

Sure, you can speculate. Sure, you can say, for instance, that Mitt Romney has such and such position on social security, and if he’s elected, he will try to appoint XYZ justices who would do ABC to Social Security. Or he would use his political heft to influence lawmakers to enact such and such a modification of the program, et cetera.

Likewise, you can go through hypothetical situations with respect to President Obama.

•    Your prognostications might be right.
•    They might be incomplete.
•    They might be off base entirely!

It’s important not to oversimplify. These programs have been around for decades. There are literally millions of stakeholders. The rules and regulations are vast and diverse. Even the experts who have read the relevant documents often find themselves at loggerheads on even the most basic policy issues.

In other words, it’s probably a bit ridiculous to make the case that a particular presidential election result will have an easily predictable effect on social security disability.

Okay, so if the prognosticators are taking too much liberty, and if the situation really is as chaotic as we’ve discussed, what can you do, if you’re trying to just get benefits to pay for care, protect yourself against problems, and keep your life together?

The soundest strategy you can follow is your own, customized, well informed one.

Fortunately for you, you do not need to solve the riddle of the social security disability – or prognosticate the election – to get a suitable outcome for your disability benefits question. By retaining a competent, highly skilled and experienced social security disability law firm in North Carolina, for instance, you can make massive progress.

More Web Resources:

Which President will be better for social security disability? President Obama or President Romney?

Santorum Drops Out, Making Mitt Romney the Presumptive GOP Nominee

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

52 New Conditions For Compassionate Allowances Program – Will Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Case Be Affected?

April 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been trying to collect social security disability in North Carolina, you are undoubtedly aware of so called Compassionate Allowances program.

This is a special program run by the Social Security Administration, which allows people with certain illnesses or diseases to get on a fast track for benefits. According to common statistics, approximately 3 million people try to get social security disability benefits annually. Only 5% or 6% of those applicants get fast tracked through the Compassionate Allowances program. The SSA has now added 52 new conditions to this program, based on research conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Here are a few of these conditions and diseases:

•    Alpers disease
•    Child Neuroblastoma
•    Histiocytosis
•    I Cell Disease
•    Kufs Disease Type A and B
•    Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas-C

You can follow the link at the bottom of this blog for a full list of all 52 conditions.

Even if you’re not one of the 60,000 or so people who can qualify for fast track assessments through a special program, you can leverage powerful resources, such as a social security disability law firm in North Carolina, to get superior results and stay focused on your goals.

Sure, you can “go it alone” and succeed with your disability quest. Conversely, you can work with a law firm and get denied. But if you are looking to improve your odds, achieve a more certain outcome, and side step some of the most common and tragic mistakes that would-be beneficiaries make, it makes sense to get help before you encounter significant problems.

More Web Resources:

52 New Conditions Added to Compassionate Allowances Program

The History of the Social Security Administrations Compassionate Allowances Program

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

What Will Come After North Carolina Social Security Disability?

April 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What’s the long-term fate of the Social Security Disability system in North Carolina and elsewhere? How will America’s entitlement system change, evolve, and adapt in the years and decades to come?

No one has a crystal ball. But just by pondering questions like these, you can get a deeper appreciation of how systems like Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income operate and what you can do to protect and preserve your rights to obtain benefits.

It is easy to think of today’s SSD system as “set in stone.” Sure, the relevant legislation and rules have been rewritten multiple times over the past few decades. And — as this blog and countless other news sources have reported on endlessly — the Social Security system faces a serious financial reckoning in the next few years/decades. But overall, the system seems somewhat frozen in place. It would be hard to even imagine living in America of the 1920s – prior to the advent of Social Security.

It may be just as hard to imagine the future 80 years ago – perhaps more so!

Sure, we can take a look at numbers like demographics, average income, trends in the stock market, etc, to try to guess at what our entitlement system will look like in the future. But the system is complex, meaning that small mistakes in any model will completely throw off our predictions. If you want to know why, you can get an oversimplified answer just by watching the movie Jurassic Park and listening to Jeff Goldblum’s character talk about the consequences of Chaos Theory’s Butterfly Effect.

In any event, the takeaway is that our system of benefits, the rules regarding those benefits, and even our own moral and ethical feelings about Social Security Disability are in a state of flux.

This insight suggests that, with the right leverage, you often can be able to improve your chances of getting benefits, eliminate hidden stresses associated with being ill or sick from work for months or years, and simplify and streamline your financial planning.

The first step to answering your complex benefits question is to get in touch with an effective and client respected Social Security disability law firm in North Carolina.

More Web Resources:

What’s the Far Feature of Social Security?

Jeff Goldblum and Chaos Theory

When North Carolina Social Security Disability Money Seems Out of Reach…

March 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re struggling to secure Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina or elsewhere, you probably feel like you have a lot in the line. You probably spend a fair amount of time thinking about how much you need the money, ruminating about what you’ll do with that money, and “catastrophizing” about what you’ll do if you don’t get enough benefits. You can get so caught up in both the hopes and the fears – the hopes that achieving your SSD goals will liberate you somehow and the fears that not getting that money will be your downfall – that you can lose perspective and make irrational, careless decisions.

As important as the money could be for you, it’s critical that you moderate your thinking about the subject. Business theorists have shown, again and again, in different arenas that success or failure at any endeavor – including financial management – is almost never caused by a single action. Instead, it’s an ongoing process of either getting better or getting worse – either moving closer towards your goals or moving away from them. This isn’t to say that there can’t be enormously powerful events that can rocket you forward or create a massive obstacle in your way. And perhaps your North Carolina Social Security Disability challenge is one of those crucial turning points in your life. But don’t necessarily count on it.

After all, according to theorists like Nassim Taleb, author of the Black Swan, these big catastrophic, “profound-seeming” events in our lives are often not apparent to us prospectively – only in retrospect can we really acknowledge the impact.

That’s all a little theoretical. So let’s break that down a bit. Think about winning the lottery. That would be a big event, right? You’d think that the moment you won the lottery would be a major tipping point in your life – pushing you towards great wealth. But studies show that’s not necessarily the case! Many lottery winners blow their money, and some even wind up bankrupt. This is because they never developed frugal habits of saving and investing, etc. So in retrospect, the Lotto win was not necessarily a big turning point in the Lotto winners’ life – it didn’t really affect his ultimate financial trajectory. Likewise, your quest for Social Security Disability may in retrospect turn out to be less important than your quest to recover from other more fundamental financial or emotional problems.

The moral here is there is really no way to know in advance whether a potential decision in your life is going to be monumentally impactful (either positive or negative) or, over the long term, pretty neutral and unimportant. That being said, when you treat big challenges in your life with awareness and attention, good things generally occur. For instance, if you’re currently financially struggling and worried about your welfare, you may benefit hugely from talking to a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm – not only to get help with specifics like your Administrative Law Judge hearing or Reconsideration but also to get a broader understanding of your options and planning resources.

More Web Resources:

Nicholas Nassim Taleb

People Tend to Focus on the Wrong Things

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

Desperate Straits: Whom Can You Trust About Social Security Disability in North Carolina?

March 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are suffering a serious illness or injury, you need a respected guide to help you understand how Social Security Disability in North Carolina works. You don’t want to guess. You don’t want to take advice from an uneducated (albeit well intentioned) friend or relative. Nor do you want to “trust the system” blindly.

On the other hand, you can’t be overly picky. You have an urgent crisis in your life. You are not feeling good. You don’t have much energy. Your resources – financial and otherwise – are limited. And you are not functioning from your best mental state. Perhaps the illness or injury has even affected your ability to make good judgments or deal with critical life logistics.

To top it off, as this blog recently discussed, North Carolina Social Security Disability recipients often are bombarded with conflicting advice about what to do and what not to do. The cacophony of noise online (and even offline) can be so deafening that it leads to analysis paralysis. This inaction can, in turn, create indirect problems.

So what’s the fix?

Given that there are the ratio of “chiefs” to “Indians” is something like a million to one – in other words, everyone appears to be an “expert” — how do you make progress?

Consider these principles:

Principle #1:

Be skeptical of all “non-experts.”

Would you take medical advice from a baseball player? Would you take financial advice from your dentist? You could. And the baseball player might have some really interesting and true things to say about how to take care of your body. And the dentist might have some very legitimate ideas about how to grow and nurture your wealth. But why take the risk? Why not just go to a doctor for medical advice and a financial advisor for a financial advice?

That said…

Principle #2:

Be skeptical of all “experts” too!

Just because an authority boasts conventional legitimacy does not mean that authority will effectively solve your problem. Not all experts are created equal, in other words. Some experts may be vastly more qualified to deal with your situation. One North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm might nearly effortlessly solve your problems and help you obtain the compensation (and fair treatment) that you need and deserve. Another law firm may yield only fair to middling results.

Principle #3:

When patients and clients take responsibility for their futures, good things tend to happen.

Taking responsibility for a situation is different from taking total control of it. You need and you want to cultivate relationships with professionals, mentors, and other authorities who can guide you. But you also want to look out for and protect your interests. No one is going to care about your problems more than you will.

Principle #4:

Write it down!!!

The more you objectively record any and all relevant information about your Social Security Disability case, treatment, and experience, the better and more diverse lessons you can learn from what’s been happening to you.

More Web Resources:

What Distinguishes the Real “Experts” from the Fakers?

Principles for Living in a Confusing World.

Too Many Chefs in the North Carolina Social Security Disability Kitchen

February 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Way Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen

An Expert…Or Just Pretending To Be One?

The Pied Piper Syndrome and North Carolina Social Security Disability

February 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Surprisingly, a lot.

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

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

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

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

There is an even more insidious danger lurking!

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

When experts bite off more than they can chew

The tale of the Pied Piper.

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

February 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

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

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

February 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

New, new, new, new.

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

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

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

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

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

What can you stop doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work Anymore

Using “Why” Questions to Drill Down

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

February 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Amazon review of Matthieu Ricard’s Happiness

Instruction on the science and practice of meditation

For North Carolina Social Security Disability Caregivers – Book #2: Barry Schwartz’ The Paradox of Choice

January 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Caregivers charged with taking care of sick or injured North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries are often overwhelmed by choices and decisions. Whether you are a 50-something woman caring for a sick and elderly parent; or you are a hired caregiver who works for a man who is extremely sick with dementia and other chronic diseases, your plate is more than full.

It’s not as if being a caregiver is your only role, either!

Likely, you also play other important roles, including spouse, parent, friend, confidante, mentor, etc. But if you are not careful about how you allocate your time and resources, your role as caregiver can become so totally overwhelming that you will fail to nourish other parts of your life. This can leave you feeling resentful, burned out, and less able to provide the compassionate assistance that the North Carolina social security disability beneficiary desperately needs.

To get to the root for your problem, you might find sociology professor Barry Schwartz’ book, The Paradox of Choice, extremely useful. Using easy-to-understand language and spirited metaphors, Professor Schwartz shows how the American obsession with choice can be debilitating and dangerous. In terms of choices, we think: “the more the merrier.” Schwartz demonstrates, using sound research, that more choices do not make us happier, wealthier, or more in control.

In fact, they do the opposite.

They make us feel more overwhelmed, out of control, and upset.  Schwartz talks about ways around the paradox of choice problem – for instance, to avoid being overwhelmed, be choosy about when you choose. Learn how to be satisfied and abandon the constant striving for perfection.

Another great way to manage this problem is to get help from people and resources who know precisely how to help people in your situation. A social security disability law firm in North Carolina, for instance, can give you powerful, actionable, reputable advice to protect the beneficiaries’ financial well-being and connect you with other resources and opportunities to relieve your stress and lighten your burden.

More Web Resources:

Barry Schwartz’ The Paradox of Choice

Being a caregiver can be overwhelming

Long-Term Solutions for Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere

January 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Pundits, economists, politicians, and prognosticators of every stripe have concluded that social security disability in North Carolina and elsewhere is on the fast track to fiscal disaster. Various forecasts suggest, for instance, that the program could be out of money in just a few years. Even the most rosy-eyed projections conclude that social security disability in North Carolina is in for some hard times.

As we covered earlier on this blog, the reasons for the stresses in the Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) systems are manifold. They might include:

•    The surge of retirees as the baby boomer generation stops working;
•    The increased life expectancy of elderly Americans;
•    The expensive costs of end-of-life care;
•    The poor dietary and exercise habits of Americans;
•    Inept management of government programs;
•    Inadequate producer base – not enough people are working to supply money for the system;
•    The general breakdown of the world financial system.

Clearly, the system is strained. But are we making a mountain out of a mole hill? Is it possible that some “white knight” will save our disability systems from these rampaging problems? If so, what might these solutions be, and when will they come?

Here are some possibilities:

•    A surprising economic turnaround both globally and domestically generates a big payday for the social security disability coffers, blunting the negative effects;
•    A sudden and massive positive change in the American diet/exercise regimen turns the tide on the diabetes and obesity epidemics and relieves significant strain on the healthcare system;
•    A political comprise is worked out to ratchet up certain restrictions on the program to make sure that only people who really need the money can get the money;
•    Policymakers discover ways to radically save money on other programs (e.g. domestic energy, military spending, etc.) and the excess money goes to the SSD system;
•    A Manhattan Project-like taskforce convenes to solve the social security crisis in America and comes up with other powerful solutions that differ and defray costs beyond what the doomsdayers have deemed possible.

For help with your personal benefit situation, connect with an experienced and deeply knowledgeable social security disability in North Carolina law firm.

More Web Resources:

Can Anything Save Social Security?

Doomsday Predictions Are Often Wrong

Regaining Self-Reliance after Being out on Social Security Disability in North Carolina

January 10, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

While you’ve been off of work on Social Security Disability in North Carolina, South Carolina, or elsewhere, you may have developed a subtle but potentially poisonous lack of self-confidence and self-reliance.

This dependency has nothing to do with your intrinsic will power, self-esteem, or anything else about your personality. It’s entirely situational. Countless psychological studies show that one’s immediate environment (including one’s thoughts) have profound, life-changing effects on behaviors, attitudes, activity levels, emotional resilience, etc.

The long and short of it is: If you’ve been on a Social Security Disability in North Carolina (or even if you’ve just been sick and are thinking about applying to the SSD program), you may have allowed certain potentially destructive beliefs about your own reliance to creep in. These beliefs may prevent you from taking action to get the help necessary to overcome your obstacles.

Without self-reliance, you may fall victim to marketers eager to sell “out of the box” solutions to your problems. You may come to believe that you are more dependent than you actually are on people like caregivers, doctors, solution marketers, friends, and family members. While it’s great to lean on other people for help, you are ultimately the person who cares about your fate the most. Indeed, the more actively you’re involved with your own health, well-being, and financial matters, the more you can shape your world.

Regaining Yourself Self-Reliance

If you’ve been battered and bruised by a string of a misfortunes, such as a lost job, an illness, a business failure, etc., you can still change for the better. Regaining self-reliance and self-confidence is not something that happens overnight. It is a process. Just like you cannot “lose” all your self-confidence and self-reliance overnight; so, too, can’t you regain it in a night or with two weeks of dedicated work. It’s going to take time.

The fact that you have access to the Internet means you have access to a practically limitless amount of free information about how to reboot your self-confidence and self-reliance. Don’t worry about finding the perfect plan or approach or methodology. And don’t stress about trying to “fix yourself” in one fell swoop. Instead, picture the image of a large heavy flywheel. Imagine you are trying to push this flywheel around in a clockwise direction. At first, it’s slow going. But as the momentum builds, the flywheel spins faster and faster. Eventually, it’s going so fast that it’s practically effortless to keep it spinning. Think of the flywheel in our analogy to self-confidence and self-reliance. The first few pushes will be hard. No one push “makes it happen.” But over time, if you persist and push in the right direction, you will make substantial progress.

A North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you reach your goals.

More Web Resources:

Jim Collins’ Flywheel Metaphor for Business Success.

Essay on Self-Reliance

North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits – the Natural Sequitur to Unemployment?

January 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are among the ranks of the 10.6 million Americans on Social Security Disability, whether you live in North Carolina or elsewhere, you are likely aware of how crowded the Social Security Disability (SSD) pig pile is getting.

A recent Wall Street Journal article confirmed what many people already understood: that SSD is often used by jobless Americans when they run out of unemployment benefits. Two studies cited by the Journal suggest that more and more hurt, injured, and elderly Americans are turning to SSD and similar programs to collect money to make ends meet, pay medical bills, etc.

Where is all this pressure on the system coming from?

Theories abound. Some pundits cite the fact that end-of-life care is now extravagantly expensive. The medical care the average person receives during the last six months of life is a gargantuan percentage of the total care that the person gets during his/her life time.

Other people cite the “graying” of the baby-boomer generation as a major pinch point on the system. Simply put, the baby-boomer generation is enormous, and the boomers are beginning to retire and extract more from the system that they pay into.

Another school of thought pins the blame on life expectancy. Back in the mid-1930s when engineers first developed the concept of social security, life expectancy was far more modest. Today, the average American lives until 78. You start collecting social security benefits in your early 60s. So that’s nearly two decades during which you extract money from the system without putting any value into it. That, say pundits, is a recipe for long-term financial disaster.

Oh. Let’s not forget to throw into the mix concerns about the SSD program’s management, rules and regulations, insurance industry shenanigans, etc.

One can even entertain more far flung and exotic theories. For instance, emergent research suggests that Americans’ sweet tooth may be responsible for a staggering number of chronic diseases as well as the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Our poor dietary habits have stressed our country’s medical and financial infrastructures to the breaking point, and the Social Security Disability crisis is simply one tentacle of this much larger crisis.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with benefits, you probably care less about these grand theories than about getting fair treatment and good help now. Connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability Law Firm to explore your rights and collect what you are owed.

More Web Resources

Unemployed Turn to Social Security Disability Benefits

10.6 million Social Security Disability Beneficiaries… and Counting!

North Carolina Social Security Solutions: Communicating Your Feelings and Needs More Effectively

November 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In several posts on this North Carolina social security disability blog, we’ve discussed how important it is for sick and injured people to stand up for themselves, make their voices heard, and communicate their feelings and needs in clear, concise, powerful ways.

Unfortunately, many of us have been so poorly trained in how to communicate that we blunt our ability to get the help we need — not just from friends and family members, but also from important resources like a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

Why is it so difficult to communicate? Why, despite all of your powerful and painful needs, can you not get them met?

Part of the problem might be the actual language you use – how you structure your requests, criticisms, and even your self-talk.

In modern American society, we tend to conflate observations with judgments and feelings, and we tend to deny responsibility of our own feelings when we say things like we “should do x, y, z” or “we have to.” We also say things like such and such person “made me feel” sad, angry, happy, lonely, etc. In this language of self-denial, we automatically make ourselves the victims. If an Administrative Law Judge hands down a verdict we don’t like, we give the judge power over us by saying he or she “made me furious” or the decision “made me helpless.”

Furiousness and helplessness are states of the mind. Certain actions or events can trigger these states of mind, but the feelings’ roots are internal. Until we learn to separate objective actions from internal reflections about those actions, we are doomed to give up some control and power.

Let’s apply this philosophy to a real life situation. Let’s say that a judge gives a ruling that you don’t like. Instead of saying “the judge made me angry,” or “the judge is idiot” – statements of blame and judgment that really don’t get you anywhere – reflect on your own feelings about what happened. You might say: “boy, when the judge handed down that ruling, I felt humiliated and angry, because I have a need for money to pay my bills and also a need to resolve my North Carolina Social Security Disability situation.”

Notice how, in the second way of thinking about it, we have detached the objective reality (the judge’s ruling) from your feelings (frustration, humiliation), and we have also unearthed two crucial needs – a need for money and a need for resolution of your SSD situation. Now that you know those two needs, you can think strategically about how to meet those needs. In other words, you are no longer helpless: you are empowered.

More Web Resources:

Separating Observation from Feelings

Non-violent Communication

Productivity after North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 28, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Is this a fair assessment?

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

Might there be other explanations?

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

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

In other words, we need to ask:

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The graying of the baby-boomer generation

The American over medication epidemic.

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

October 22, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

New York City Horse Traffic Problem

Paradigm Shifts Tend to be “Bolts From The Blue”

The "Pride Problem" and North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More web resources:

The Need for Help

The Need for Autonomy

Social Networking Salvation for North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

October 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Perhaps.

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources

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

Dangers of “too much” social media

Misery Hates Company, so Get Some Company! Common Sense, Easy Ways to Make Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Journey Easier

September 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

This blog has cataloged the many, scary, and diverse challenges that North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) face. It’s an intimidating world, and SSD applicants are often mistreated by the system, forgotten by doctors, and treated unjustly by judges and bureaucrats.

Although a competent North Carolina Social Security Disability Law Firm can help you make progress – compelling the system to work fairly for you, for instance, and making you sure you get the right benefits for your needs without becoming ensnared in red tape – your challenges are too broad for any single outside resource, even the best NC SSD law firm, to manage.

So what can you do?

Solutions abound. But all too often, North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries operate in a vacuum. They try to figure out everything on their own. Maybe they use the internet to help them. Maybe they lean on resources like competent law firms and friends or family members. But they probably do not take advantage of the full suite of resources available to them. And one of the key causes of failure, stress, and anxiety is that beneficiaries do not get the empathy they need. No one listens to them.

One Simple but Surprisingly Tricky Solution: Get Connected

The old adage “misery loves company” is actually backward: misery hates company. Depression, stress and anxiety are emotions that often amplify when people are left alone with nothing but their thoughts.

Human beings love to communicate their needs to other people. We evolved to be social creatures.

The first step is to find the resources you need to make better progress. Connect with an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm to find out what you can do to solve your communications problems and to get connected with people who care about you to work through whatever SSD demons you face.

More web resources:

Human beings are social creatures

How social connections can help us get through problems.

The “Way Way Way Too Much Information” Problem: How North Carolina Social Security Disability Applicants Can Cope

September 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you have been researching North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits on the internet, the odds are great that you’ve uncovered far more pertinent, possibly crucial information about your SSD benefits than you can process and use. The quest to understand your rights, obligations, timeframes, etc., is hard enough without all the buzz and confusion, but it’s made much more difficult by this constant “informational noise” that you must slog through. What SSD info is correct, germane to your situation, actionable, and smart? What information is out-of-date, inaccurate, misleading, or incomplete? And how can you tell the difference?

This challenge is not unique to North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants – it’s a challenge that we all face every time we get on the web looking for solutions to vexing problems. There’s a good chance that smart people have addressed whatever problems we face. But locating those good answers in a sea of misleading information is like finding a needle in a haystack. It requires vigilance, effort, and the constant, relentless use of your intuition and self-discipline. It’s hard.

And it’s hard enough for ordinary people who are not beset by medical issues or financial problems. But when you are sick, tired, or otherwise incapacitated – and you are suffering from financial stress – you are fundamentally compromised.

So what’s the solution? First of all, there’s no “one solution.” Every SSD applicant will require a different amount of help. Some people might be able to get their questions answered through simple Wikipedia and Google searches, while others might need to read e-books and/or research extensively for weeks before they get good answers. Still others may need the long-term services of a dedicated North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

No matter which group you are in, it never hurts to connect with an attorney, especially one who will give a free, upfront consultation. You will benefit from the strategic counsel without the commitment. Remember that consulting with a law firm is very different from retaining a firm for services. The key is not necessarily to get counsel, but to get strategic guidance so that you make the most efficient use out of your research time, simplify your SSD application process, and make the whole experience as stress-free as possible.

More Web Resources:

Too Much Information Problem

informational noise

The 2012 Presidential Election: How It Might Redound to Impact North Carolina Social Security Disability

September 8, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

We are still over a year away from the 2012 presidential election, but pundits, policymakers and bloggers who follow North Carolina Social Security Disability policy are already contemplating how the next presidential election might impact the future of government benefits programs. The speculation is obviously just that – educated (or in some case, completely uneducated) guessing.

Would President Mitt Romney really be that different from President Rick Perry or President Michele Bachmann in terms of prioritizing or executing entitlement reform? How might President Obama handle entitlement programs if he gets elected to a second term. Would a second-term President Barack Obama push for more intense reform without the specter of another election looming over him? How might the legislative branch’s changes in 2012 ultimately impact entitlement policy?

Pundits who speculate should recognize that “events on the ground” will no doubt change radically over the next year-and-a-half. Those events, both domestic and international, will redound to have effects on the perceived best solutions for entitlement reform policy.

It’s a big mess, in other words.

Even with the best crystal ball this side of the Beltway, prognosticators would have a very, very, very difficult time predicting the future of programs like Social Security Disability. And that uncertainty can be worrisome if you are someone (or the family member of someone) who depends on government entitlement programs to live, pay medical bills, and otherwise cushion against uncertainties.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your budget and maximize your chances of recovering from a medical crisis and leading a more productive life?

The answers may have less to do with planning your future perfectly than with amassing resources you can use during times of crisis. With a quality North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm on your side, you have a reliable partner to help you interpret any changes to entitlement rules (if they do get passed) and to advocate for your best interests, no matter what happens in the political sphere.

More Web Resources:

President Perry?

President Romney?

President Obama (Part 2)?

Uh, Oh. North Carolina Social Security Disability on the Verge of Vanishing?

August 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On August 27, an AP article about the near insolvency of the Social Security Disability program raised red flags among policy analysts and beneficiaries who study (and rely on) the North Carolina Social Security Disability system.

The AP article reports that the graying of the baby boomer generation – coupled with the increase in unemployment nationwide – may be pushing the SSD program to the brink of financial collapse. “Applications (for SSD) are up nearly 50% over a decade ago as people with disabilities lose their jobs and can’t find new ones in an economy that has shed nearly 7 million jobs. The stampede for benefits is adding to a growing backlog of applicants…and worsening the financial problems for a program that’s been running in the red for years.”

SSD will run out of cash by 2017 unless Congress steps in. Two decades after that, the entire social security fund will dry up as well.

With over nearly 3.5 million people this year projected to apply for some kind of federal disability benefits, you and your family are likely feeling a bit of panic about whether you will be able to obtain needed North Carolina Social Security Disability funds to pay for things like your rent, utilities, medical care, therapy, and other living expenses.

It’s a difficult and scary time, and easy solutions aren’t forthcoming. Indeed, for every article that blames problems like SSD insolvency on bad fiscal policy, you can find another article blaming the problem on something totally different. The Republicans are to blame. No, the Democrats are to blame. No, the American people are to blame. No, Europe is to blame. Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

In this frustrating, raucous environment – where a point is responded to with a counterpoint, and millions of beneficiaries have trouble keeping score, let alone understanding the deep tactical, strategic, and technical implications for their recovery – what can you do?

You face real and urgent monetary problems, medical crises, emotional/personal struggles, possible family issues, and long- term challenges. This may seem overwhelming. But first of all, recognize that you are not in this alone. It’s easy to blame yourself for your current financial, physical, budget, or work problems. But that kind of self-flagellation is not resourceful or, probably, accurate. Instead, it might be wise to assess your objective, on-the-ground reality now – what’s true for you, your family, your health, and your finances – and find resources to help you make the best of your situation.

A great resource is a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm. Good attorneys can help you objectively analyze your needs and come up with a blueprint to move forward.

More Web Resources:

“Applications (for SSD) are up nearly 50% over a decade ago”


What is true for you NOW?

Help for People Who Help North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries: Challenge #1: The Uncertainty Problem

August 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

We are going to launch a four-part series on the challenges faced by caretakers who help those sick and hurt individuals on North Carolina Social Security Disability. As a friend, relative, or for-hire caretaker, you have a tremendous responsibility. Sometimes, you might be confused, angry, overwhelmed, and overloaded. This four-part series is meant to address some of the concerns that you face.

The first key challenge involves uncertainty.

As a caretaker, you must manage not only the uncertainty of the North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiary whom you care for, but you also must find your own internal equilibrium and peace. How do you that? First of all, let’s consider some of the symptoms of this uncertainty:

• Your beneficiary’s health, condition and mood may change dramatically from day to day with little or no short-term notice.
• By putting someone else’s needs in front of yours, you may neglect critical signals that your subconscious is telling you, and thus neglect your own needs.
• It’s easy to get excited about the “ups” and depressed about the “downs” and difficult to navigate the middle ground. You may not know how long your obligation as a caretaker will last – weeks, months, years?
• You might have doubts and fears about your own abilities as a caretaker.
• You and the beneficiary might be frustrated about setbacks or frustrated with the case, such as an ALJ ruling, denial of an appeal, etc.

Dealing with the Uncertainty and Frustration Strategically

Step one is to accept and acknowledge what’s true for you and the beneficiary right now. What’s the medical situation? What’s the legal situation? What’s the financial situation? What’s the logistical situation? Until you have clear and credible answers to these questions, you may find it difficult to figure out what to do next.

Likewise, you should identify “best case scenario” outcomes for the caretaking. In an ideal world, how long would you be a caretaker? How much money and time would you and the beneficiary expend? What would be the optimal results of any legal actions you take? Take the time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write these answers down. The more specifically you articulate your “start line” and “finish line” of your caretaking challenge, the easier it will be to find shortcuts to achieve your goals and to avoid wasting time with useless solutions.

If you need help on this journey, connect with a compassionate, aggressive North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm that will deal with any legal/logistical issues.

More Web Resources:

Caregiver emotions

uncertainty causes stress

Is “Reform Now” the Answer to North Carolina Social Security Disability Challenges?

June 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Is “fixing” the social security system the best chance to ensure that future generations will enjoy North Carolina social security disability benefits? In a widely discussed editorial in Politico (6/6/11), the AARP’s former CEO, Bill Novelli, argues the case.

Bemoaning that “The country is in an enormous debt-and-deficit morass,” Novelli claims that “if we ever needed courage, bipartisanship and political will, the time is now, as we struggle to deal with the impending crisis.” Novelli points out that social security is “paying out more than it takes in and is projected to deplete its reserves in just over 25-years. Choosing to ignore the program’s imbalance means workers currently under the age of 40 will see their benefits cut by 22% when they retire. Do we really want to leave that legacy to younger generations?”

A more relevant question for hurt, injured, and sick North Carolinians is: How will reform (or failure to reform) ultimately impact North Carolina social security disability? If the program essentially runs out of money, who will be left holding the bag? And when? Unfortunately, these speculative questions are difficult to answer with any degree of accuracy, even with all the excellent data collection and sharing tools we’ve developed.

You might think that experts could just take a look at how the social security programs evolved and make extrapolations based on those numbers. For instance, if we could simply just cut the program spend by, say, 20%, than maybe we could extend the program’s solvency by another 10-years. But this kind of thinking is surprisingly very, very wrong. Past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance.

Crises in the fiscal arena have a way of forming, as if out of nothing, and then dissolving just as quickly and unexpectedly. For instance, consider New York City at the turn of the 20th Century. Newspaper editorialists at the time were in a frothing panic. Over what? All the horse traffic! Mounts of horse feces in the streets. The clickity-clack of wheels on the cobblestone creating terrible noise. Horse related accidents killing and injuring thousands a year. Et cetera. The intelligensia’s entire focus was on solving the horse traffic problems of the day. No one anticipated the advent of the automobile and all the sweeping changes, both good and bad, that it would bring for New York City traffic.

Likewise, it may be very difficult and premature to extrapolate from our current situation to the year 2037. What will change between now and then that might totally and fundamentally alter the game?

In the midst of all of this uncertainty, however, you need to make practical decisions about how to advocate for yourself and get the benefits you and your family need. An experienced and well regarded North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you identify practical and ethical solutions to your urgent benefit needs.

More Web Resources:

Bill Novelli SSD article in Politico

The Horse & the Urban Environment

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

May 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

The answers are tricky.

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

April 26 Fox News story on SSD

Diabesity Epidemic

 
 

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