Topic: Social Security fraud

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.

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.

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.

The Pundits vs. Nate Silver: Implications for Your Quest for Social Security Disability in Charlotte

November 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re desperate to claim Social Security Disability, so you can balance your personal budget and gain some modicum of security about your future. However, you’re bombarded with advice about what to do and what not to do. The more you contemplate your options, the more overwhelmed you feel. You know you can’t ‘do nothing.’ But you also don’t want to make the wrong choices. And so you are stuck at this point of paralysis. In this sea of information overload, how can you find a good voice – ideally, voices – to steer you in the right direction?

Is it only a matter of listening to the conventional wisdom? Should you take an unconventional route? Will connecting with a reliable, trustworthy North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, be enough to solve your problems? Do you even need a law firm?

These are profound questions. As you contemplate them, you might be tempted to take the path of least resistance: the path that you are currently on. That can actually be a big mistake. Sometimes, the conventional wisdom is far off the mark.

Consider, for instance, the prognostications of the pundits leading up to the November 6 election.

Seemingly informed politicos, like Joe Scarborough (host of ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC), declared the race a ‘toss up’ days before the election. On the other hand, New York Times blogger Nate Silver claimed that President Obama had an advantage over Governor Mitt Romney that gave Obama something like 80% odds. Turns out that Silver’s predictions were on the mark, not only in terms of who would win the race but also in terms of how each state would vote. His model was 50 for 50 in terms of predicting Electoral College votes.

This isn’t to say that Silver had a crystal ball or that his model was flawless. Rather, it suggests that an idiosyncratic but empirically validated model or resource can be more accurate than an army of conventional thinkers.

When in doubt, go with the empirically validated solution

Whether you are striving to win a claim or searching for solutions to other problems in your life, consider beginning with questions like ‘what’s worked in the past in very similar situations to the one I am in right now?’ Look for empirical validation over big promises or conventional wisdom to guide you through chaos and uncertainty.

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.

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.

More Tips for Caregivers of Charlotte Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

October 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Tip #1: Avoid “taking it personally.”

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

Tip #2: Get organized!

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

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

Tip #3: Resolve any benefits questions ASAP.

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

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.

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.”

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.

Who Can Qualify for Social Security Disability in North Carolina?

April 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

How do you prove that you are unable to work?

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Substantial Gainful Activity

Who qualifies for social security disability benefits?

The Roots of the North Carolina Social Security Disability Crisis in the Philosophy of the Enlightenment

March 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The conventional wisdom is that Social Security Disability system in North Carolina and elsewhere is broken or at least highly dysfunctional. The criticisms come from all sides.

The million-dollar question is: What are the system’s constraints? Why are we having so much trouble financially, bureaucratically, and otherwise? Why is it so difficult for so many would-be beneficiaries of Social Security Disability in North Carolina to get results and to be treated with respect and empathy? Why is the Social Security Disability program in general so stressed and hard to manage? Unless we have good, deep, and true answers to these questions, we’re going to have a difficult time applying the right solutions. Because if we get the root problem wrong, our attempts to ameliorate the problems are going to be the equivalent of swimming upstream against a riptide.

So what are the root causes?

This blog and other sources – both scholarly and amateur – have been probing this question for years. Perhaps we have all not been probing deep enough. Perhaps the root of our suffering lies in the fundamental philosophies we have regarding health, wellness, and problem solving.

Let’s dive into that. Western thought has, at least over the past several centuries, been characterized by something called Reductionism. Basically, in our thinking and engineering, we like to break things down to their internal components. In so doing, we believe we can get a better understanding of how they work and improve them. This kind of “careful watchmaker” approach is useful for engineering products, machines, and even ideas.

But emerging science and evidence both suggest that this approach may be deeply flawed. Reality is more integrated. Breaking things down into components does not necessarily yield more information about how a system as a whole works. In fact, it can mislead us. In other words, from this point of view, Reductionism represents a step in the decisively wrong direction.

The more integrated approach basically tells us that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In other words, you can catalog and study every brain cell in your brain. But studying the brain on the level of neurons alone will never give us answers to questions like “where does consciousness come from?” and “how does the mind create love?” etc. We need an approach that respects the challenge of describing the true, integrated reality of our reality.

For instance, when we talk about individual stressors on the SSD system – out-of-control costs, strange insurance rules, overwhelming bureaucracy, etc. – we may be missing the point. It’s not that these things don’t matter. Indeed, they can matter a great deal. It’s that it’s nearly impossible to separate various causes from one another. So what we should be doing is focusing on an integrated approach to our challenges — we need to see both the trees AND the forest.

For specific help, turn to a well-respected, efficient and effective Social Security disability law firm in North Carolina.

More Web Resources:

Perils of Reductionism

Why we Mistake the Forest for the Trees

The Fight for North Carolina Social Security Disability Reform: Does It All Hinge on the Hormone Insulin?

March 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent post, we discussed how the challenges of North Carolina social security disability reform can only be met if and when we effectively manage the obesity/diabetes epidemic that’s currently plaguing North Carolina and the rest of the U.S.

But how can we stop the obesity epidemic in its tracks? We’ve been trying pretty hard for quite some time. But the problem seems to be getting worse and worse.

Perhaps we are looking at the problem incorrectly. Almost all obesity researchers, doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, policy makers, and science journalists believe that obesity is caused by something called a “positive energy balance.” In less technical language, we believe that people get fat because they “eat too much” and fail to “burn off” enough energy. Sounds reasonable. Likewise, we believe that the cure to obesity must be a “negative energy balance.” In other words, someone who is obese needs to burn off more calories than he expends by eating less and/or exercising more. So we take these two basic assumptions about obesity and run with them. These precepts are ubiquitously accepted.

But are they valid?

Enter science journalist Gary Taubes. In his books Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, Mr. Taubes builds an impressive case that refutes these two basic building blocks of our understanding about obesity. Mr. Taubes suggests that thinking in terms of energy balance is silly and misleading. After all, in order to get fat, you need to store that fat in your body. In order to store fat, you need to have the help of hormones and enzymes. The main fat storage hormone is the hormone insulin. Without insulin, it can be very difficult, if not flat out impossible to store fat – ask any type one diabetic.

Conversely, ample evidence abounds to suggest that obesity is a disorder of “insulin resistance” – a metabolic problem, not an “energy balance” problem. If Mr. Taubes is correct, then the solution to the obesity epidemic is not to convince people to “eat less and exercise more” as people like Michelle Obama often importune. Instead, it’s to use dietary therapies and other therapies to help obese and overweight individuals normalize the hormonal/metabolic environment of the fat itself – mainly by controlling and normalizing insulin levels.

If Taubes’ theory is correct, not only might obese and overweight individuals enjoy substantial new hope (evidence suggests that controlling insulin is a more effective long-term therapy for weight loss than controlling calories). It also suggests that we may be able to use this new perspective to solve the seemingly intractable obesity epidemic – and thus ultimately to reform North Carolina social security disability and other programs like it that have been challenged by the obesity epidemic.

More Web Resources:

Is the “Calorie Counting” Approach to Weight Loss Flawed?

The War on Insulin

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

February 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

“I. Don’t. Know.”

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

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Power of Admitting That You Don’t Know

Surfacing the hidden obstacles in your way

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

North Carolina Social Security Disability and the Definition of Insanity

February 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

It may be worth your time to ask: Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Definition of Insanity

Black Swan Events

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

January 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Separating Hokum from Useful “Self-Help”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More web resources:

All about the Lipid Hypothesis

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

North Carolina Social Security Disability Wars: Tom Coburn v. Adult Baby (Coburn: 0, Adult Baby: 1)

November 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many North Carolina social security disability cases are dry, mundane, and difficult to “sift through.” But a recent case involving an adult baby and outspoken Republican Senator Tom Coburn has galvanized interest beyond the North Carolina social security disability blogosphere.

At issue is whether a so-called “adult baby”, a one Stanley Thornton, should be entitled to collect social security disability for conditions like ADHD, spinal problems, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. Thornton starred in an episode of the TV show “Taboo” (National Geographic Channel) earlier this year. Producers documented Thornton’s secret life:

• Role playing a baby;
• Sleeping in a crib and drinking from a bottle;
• Even getting changed by an adult woman role playing his mother!

Needless to say, the show elicited both titters and fascination from millions of viewers. But Thornton’s shenanigans outraged Senator Tom Coburn, who called for an investigation into why someone like Thornton should be allowed to collect social security disability benefits when he ostensibly looked like a normal, relatively healthy man.

Now, Thornton has allegedly been cleared of any wrongdoing, pursuant to an August letter from the social security disability administration. According to the letter: “we recently reviewed the
evidence in your social security disability claim and find that your disability is continuing.”

Score one for the baby!

Thornton laced into Senator Coburn on his website, accusing the Senator of wasting tax payer money to “conduct a three agency investigation.” Coburn himself remained recalcitrant and disgusted. His spokesperson said “Dr. Coburn believes Congress should apologize to the American people for failing to provide adequate oversight over our disability programs. This case highlights the need for comprehensive reform in order to better define who is eligible to receive disability benefits. We need to hold accountable not only adult babies but the politicians and bureaucrats who coddle them.”

While the blogosphere has certainly gone goo-goo and gaga over this admittedly juicy story, you and your family likely have more serious, specific questions about what to do to get your SSD benefits and protect them. A competent and experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm can help.

More Web Resources:

Should adult baby get $860 a month in social security disability?

Senator Coburn loses to adult baby in fight over SSD benefits

Avoid Getting Scammed Out of Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits

July 14, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Seniors and injured and sick North Carolinians who fight vigorously for their North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits often “let up their guard” after they’ve succeeded with an appeal or succeeded at an ALJ hearing… and the consequences are often devastating.

As sad as the reality is, scam artists and hucksters often explicitly target weak and vulnerable individuals – e.g. people on North Carolina Social Security Disability – because, in their illness and desperation, these individuals are likely to seek random outside help to navigate their perplexing and difficult circumstances.

SSD scams run the gamut. Schemers can be terrifyingly creative in how they go after your wallet or pocketbook. For instance, a fraud artist might try to involve you in a seemingly “bulletproof” annuity investment that turns out to be a scam (e.g. selling a 95-year-old women a 15-year annuity…structured so she will only be able to break even if she makes it to 110!). Other scams are more explicit. Con artists may steal your social security number or credit card. And since you are unwell, you may not have the awareness or strength to stop what’s going on – or to respond effectively once you do find out something bad has happened. In other words, these schemers can make an already stressful and annoying situation worlds worse.

So, given all of these hostile and frustrating factors, how do you make progress?

First of all, begin by acknowledging your reality. It doesn’t help matters if you recede into denial – either denial about your health or about the financial damage that’s already been done. Accepting reality is progress in and of itself. Next, based on where you are, identify your goals.

Maybe your goal should be to clean up your credit. Or maybe it’s to retrieve money or hold the wrongdoer responsible… or all of that and more. The clearer you are about what you want, the more that friendly and trustworthy resources, like your North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm, can come to your rescue and help you grapple with your challenges.

More Web Resources:

common senior scams

common SSD scams

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

May 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Why so much attention on such a small case?

Answer is below…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

William Joseph Murphy fraud


SSD scams to watch out for

Tax Preparer Slapped with 44 Counts of Fraud – North Carolina Social Security Disability Advocates Explore the Scandal

April 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

This North Carolina Social Security Disability blog has reported on numerous cases of fraud, theft and other “bad actions.” Today, unfortunately, we are going to talk about another distressing case. A couple out of Ash Flat Arkansas – Karen Sue Morris and James Bruce Morris – got convicted on April 26th of 44 different counts associated with tax evasion and social security theft.

According to a report from Arkansasbusiness.com: “the couple were accused of defrauding the Social Security Administration of disability benefits, underreporting their taxable income and then using this false documents to apply for Pell Grants and filing false tax returns to allow clients to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

A jury out of US District court in Little Rock found the couple guilty of all 44 charges (down from 60 counts from a February indictment). The couple faces a decade in prison each and fines up to a quarter million dollars. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Unfortunately, sometimes the advisors we trust to take care of our money and to plan for our retirement turn out to have ulterior motives.

As we’ve reported recently, many in the North Carolina Social Security Disability advocacy community fear that seniors and other sick and vulnerable individuals may prove to be easy “marks” for scam artists and even theft rings.

When you are sick, tired, overwhelmed, and scared, you really crave guidance. If someone comes along with seemingly legitimate credentials and professes to want to act in your best interest, you may naively “hand over the keys” to this person or company without doing due diligence. And that can be the start of enormous financial headaches that could result in your losing out on key entitlements that you need to survive and thrive.

Fortunately, legitimate, creditable, and experienced help is not far away. A qualified and reputable North Carolina Social Security disability law firm can help you untangle problems you have with your application, advocate for you during the appeals process, and generally help you avoid the delays and mistakes that trip up so many applicants.

More Web Resources:

Karen Sue Morris and James Bruce Morris

Ash Flat Arkansas

North Carolina Social Security Disability Fraud – Could What Happened in NY Happen Here?

April 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Earlier this week, police arrested a man named Raymond Pompey in Peekskill, New York for trying to steal his deceased cousin’s identity to commit Social Security disability fraud – Pompey’s case has many in the North Carolina Social Security disability community concerned. Could other people be trying to bilk the system, like Pompey ostensibly did? If so, might that have a negative impact that redounds to harm those who need these crucial benefits to pay bills, fund medical costs, and protect their families during hard times?

Before we get to these bigger questions, let’s review a little bit what happened in the Pompey case. According to various news reports, the 48-year-old Pompey last year got a Maryland drivers license by applying for the license in his cousin’s name. Earlier this year, he pulled the same stunt in New York State and then went to the Social Security Office for the purpose of collecting his cousin’s SSD payments. Thanks to the work of two NYSP investigators, Shawn Morgan and Kelly Pawlak, Pompey’s scheme got busted up. He has been slapped with a variety of felony charges, including:

• Falsifying business records
• First degree ID theft
• First degree providing false instrument for filing
• Two first degree counts of falsifying business records
• Two second degree forgery counts

It took a multi-jurisdictional investigation to pin down Pompey for forgery, ID theft, and the other fraud charges discussed above.

Pompey’s story will no doubt spark powerful emotions from those who depend on North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits to survive. But it’s important to place the story in some kind of context. When you need money to live, and you read about someone blatantly breaking into the program that supports you for devious ends, it’s easy to find your blood boiling and imagine the problem to be worse than it actually is.

In reality, many different factors siphon energy and money from the SSD program and make it less efficient and less useful for beneficiaries. And while fraud certainly contributes to the degradation of the program’s integrity, it’s not the only problem – nor is it probably even the biggest problem.

All that said, it’s easy to get lost in philosophical discussions about how to fix Social Security disability – that is, to make it more responsive, less bureaucratically ensnared, more “fair” to recipients, etc.

If you’re in the middle of wrestling with a benefits question – for instance, if you have been unfairly denied benefits or you’re simply confused about how to file efficiently – a qualified North Carolina Social Security disability law firm can give you guidance and answers. Given that your physical and financial health may be on the line, you owe it to yourself and your family to do all you can to secure maximal SSD benefits with minimal effort.

More Web Resources:

Raymond Pompey Fraud Arrest


Is the Social Security disability fund doomed?

 
 

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