Topic: Social Security Reform

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.

Removing the Obstacles in the Way of Your Social Security Disability Claim

January 17, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Why haven’t you already succeeded with your North Carolina social security disability claim?

One reason might be that you’ve yet to define what victory means or what it might look like. You may define victory in purely financial terms — if you get XYZ dollars by ABC date, then you’ll “win.” You might define victory in terms of your health or ability to work — if you recover your stamina and get back to the office by June, for instance, that might be a victory.

You also might be struggling because you’re sick, isolated, and faced with a complex series of legal challenges. In that case, your solution might be as simple as getting in touch with the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo, an experienced Charlotte social security disability law firm, to strategize and handle the hurdles in your way.

However, even if you’ve defined success articulately, you can still encounter surprising setbacks along the way. Prepare to be unpleasantly surprised! To gird yourself, you must surface your hidden obstacles, proactively, and strive to deal with them in advance. We discussed why this approach is important in our previous blog post. Today, we’ll provide an example.

Let’s say that your goal is to return to work by July. You want to return to your former salary (or something like it) and be doing work that leverages your skills and passions. So you’ve determined your outcome.

The next step is to ask your inner pessimist to supply what might be in your way. For instance:

•    ”What if I don’t recover enough to do my old job by July?”
•    ”What if my boss doesn’t have a job for me or can’t give me the same work at the same pay rate?”
•    ”What if, after I return, I discover that I lack the stamina I once had?”
•    ”What if the injury/disability puts me so far back, financially, that I can’t make ends meet even WITH my old job?”
•    etc

Do this exercise. Take ten minutes and exhaustively brainstorm all the possible “stuff” in your way of getting a positive outcome. Once you finish this brainstorming, set this blog post aside and come back to it at a later time — give yourself at least an hour of rest.

Done? Okay, great!

Once you’ve rested, return to your list and then engage with it in the following way. First, eliminate the obstacles that aren’t obstacles yet. For instance, you may have written down something along the lines of “my boss might fire me because she’ll be unimpressed with my performance because I’ll be rusty.” That’s not an obstacle yet, so don’t give yourself extra work!

Instead, focus on the stuff that’s true now that’s blocking your efforts. For instance, you might only have enough energy to engage with your world productively for two or three hours a day. Given your current stamina, you can’t work the way you want to work. So that stays on the list.

Go through all the remaining obstacles on your list and brainstorm how to blast through them or make them irrelevant. For instance, you may need six hours of productive time a day to do the work you once did. You only have three hours of energy currently. One way around that obstacle is to increase your stamina to six hours a day. ANOTHER way around it is to reduce the amount of time you need to work a day by half. If you did that, you’d already be at your goal!

Give the process a try. You’ll likely find that thinking through your goals this way will make a world of difference.

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.

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.

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.

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

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

So how can you meet this challenge?

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

This technique is called ‘Swallow the Frog.’

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

As Election Day Nears, Will the Implications for Social Security Disability in Charlotte Be Negligible Or Dramatic?

November 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As you go out to vote in the Presidential and statewide elections today, your Social Security Disability claim will press on your mind and potentially impact what levers you pull.

Unfortunately, despite what the pundits want you to believe, there is no way to know how or whether a particular election outcome will have a particular result for Social Security Disability.

If Romney wins the Presidency, perhaps he will deliver on his promise to fix up the economy and get Americans back to work… and his successes may ultimately improve government programs.

Conversely, perhaps the reelection of Barack Obama will spur him and his team to alter and/or fix aspects of our entitlement system.

Although both candidates – and their parties – obviously want what’s best for America and for SSD claimants, there is no telling how or whether politicians will be able to translate their intentions into positive actions. As anyone who has ever run a business or government initiative will tell you, plans have a funny way of changing even before they get implemented.

So what’s the takeaway for you — someone who’s concerned about your capacity to get benefits, improve your life, and recover from an illness or injury that’s led you to seek government help?

Would that there was a simple takeaway!

Truth be told, the election may shepherd interesting changes, but the real hard work that needs to be done will come from you and from the team that you assemble.

So, yes, exercise your franchise. Pay close attention to the outcomes of this year’s political battles. But give the lion’s share of your attention to understanding and reckoning with your personal problems. These may include your struggles for Social Security Disability but may extend way beyond SSD and include issues with your relationships, general struggles with your finances and budgeting, questions about your medical conditions, and so forth.

The team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you manage you solve nagging, thorny problems related to your quest for benefits. Get in touch with us now for a free consultation.

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.

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.

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.

An Unspoken (But Important) Truth about North Carolina Social Security Disability

September 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

One of the great tragedies of the North Carolina Social Security Disability system (and indeed government benefit systems the country over) is that many sick and injured people work under the assumption that there is someone or some institution that’s emotionally interested in your success. But there’s not.

This observation is not meant to be cynical.

Obviously, there are many good, warmhearted people who work in the Social Security Disability bureaucracy, and one could document thousands, perhaps millions, of small acts of kindness committed by healthcare providers and others “in the system.”

But the gaping unspoken truth is that we are all in this alone, together.

Yes, your physician may be personally invested in you. Yes, you can obviously lean on legal resources, such as the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, for practical, thorough help with your Charlotte Social Security Disability questions and much more. But the journey from sickness to health – from financial trouble to financial solvency – can be a lonely, exhausting, surprisingly challenging trip, indeed.

Why is it important to talk about how lonely and challenging this journey can be?

Well, it’s important because, when you operate under the assumption that there is someone or some institution looking after you, who is going to be more invested in your success than you personally will be – then you may take a too-passive role in your own care.

This can be dangerous.

It can be dangerous because you might, for instance, assume that your doctor’s office did not call you back for an appointment because “they realized you’re a-ok”… when in fact, a clerical error was to blame, and you really do need to go back to the doctor to change your medication or whatever.

Taking personal responsibility in your condition is very different from accepting culpability!

For instance, you may have gotten sick or injured at work or slammed by a series of financial catastrophes – that’s in no way your fault, and anyone who would try to make the case that it was would be not only presumptuous but also wrong.

On the other hand, personal “responsibility” is different.

Even when you’re waylaid by an injury or illness or fatigue or financial trouble – or all of the above – the degree to which you can exert agency over your situation will not only nicely predict your ability to conquer your problem but will also predict your degree of happiness with the outcome. When we exert agency – even if we’re constrained by multiple factors – we tend to feel more motivated and more persistent, and we tend to succeed more often.

So let go of the idea that there is a person or institution who will care more about your fate than you will, and understand that we are all in this alone together. Just by recognizing that truth, you should feel more motivated and more positive about what you might be able to do.

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).

Where Is the Constraint That’s Preventing You from Getting North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits?

September 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Right now, you are in desperate straits; you want North Carolina social security disability benefits – and ideally, a lot more help – to manage your financial, medical, logistical, and emotional problems.

Given the chaos currently in your world, you might be tempted to “try a lot of things at once” to improve your situation. For instance:

•    You might invest dozens of hours reading about the social security disability system online.
•    You might talk to half a dozen Charlotte social security disability law firms (such as DeMayo Law) for help/insight into your issues.
•    You might hire a financial counselor to help you plan.
•    You might call in help from friends and relatives to assist you with adjusting to the chaos and coming up with a strategic life plan.

Any one of these approaches might be appropriate, at this time. But if you diversify your energy too much, you could wind up doing the equivalent of “being a jack of all trades and master of none” – in other words, in your diversification, you may inadvertently become inefficient, slow, and unsuccessful.

How to find the biggest leverage point that’s going to help you make the most progress: an uncommon approach

Preeminent author and business thinker Eliyahu Goldratt developed a school of management called the Theory of Constraints — a very useful set of ideas about how to manage complexity in the business world. One of Goldratt’s theses is pretty simple — it basically riffs on the old adage that a chain is only as strongest as its weakest link.

Picture a metal chain in your mind. Maybe one link is strong enough to hold 100 pounds and another link is strong enough to hold 200 pounds. But a third link can only hold 50 pounds – due to its shape or the alloys used in it or whatever.

If you spend your time and energy supporting and strengthening the other links on the chain, the chain itself will still break down at that third link (the 50 pound tolerance). Thus, you could invest massive amounts of resources and not get any more results.

The key, according to Goldratt and thinkers who agree with him, is to identify and support the constraint in the system. If you add 50 pounds of support to the weakest link, you’ve added 50 pounds of support to the entire chain – with a fraction of the investment and resources that you might otherwise invest.

Identifying Your Constraint Is Massively Important

The key in this model is to identify where your weakest link is now and to do something about that. Your constraint depends on the intimate details of your system. So if your system is designed to try to get you maximum social security disability benefits – as quickly and easily as possible – you need to figure out why you are not yet at your goal. That takes a certain kind of creative experience-based thinking.

The team at DeMayo Law can help you – and we provide free confidential consultations – but you can also just use this model to start thinking about your benefits quest more efficiently.

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.

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.

Watching the London Olympics While Out Sick on Charlotte Social Security Disability

August 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve recently been hurt or diagnosed with a serious illness, you may be on social security disability in North Carolina – or you may be seeking those benefits.

Like many Americans, you’ve probably been glued (at least some of the time) to the XXX Olympics in London, following Michael Phelps’ increasingly preposterous medal count, feeling your heart leap out of your chest as Usain Bolt practically breaks the speed of sound, and pondering with your friends and family and Facebook friends about what the Chinese badminton scandal ultimately means for geopolitics.

But in the midst of all this distraction, you are still very aware of the complicated problems and potential opportunities in your future, at least as far as your North Carolina social security disability benefits are concerned.

Perhaps you are already knee deep in the process: you’ve gone to a million and one doctor’s appointments, had multiple appeals of your case, and read every free internet resource there is about social security disability. Or perhaps you are at the start of your research — you’re still trying to figure out if you are a fit for the program or, if so, how you should best proceed.

In any case, you may find it all too easy to ignore your present personal needs and focus on “stuff” that’s interesting but out of your control, like the Olympics.

While it’s important to relax and de-stress after all that you’ve been though, you also need to keep adequate focus on your goals — on your potential options to collect benefits and make your situation better. Unfortunately, all too many people these days tend to “give up” on their own lives and retreat into virtual worlds. They play video games, cruise the web all day, or veg out to the Olympics or some other distraction on television.

If you’ve been distracted — “putting off” the important stuff in your life — you are not alone.

To break out of that mentality requires a certain degree of activation energy. You cannot be expected to deal with all of your legal problems by yourself. Even if you are healthy and working, you would likely have multiple points of stress in your life. Not only are you not healthy – and possibly not working – but you are also undoubtedly overwhelmed by the complex bureaucracy that is the social security disability or supplemental security income system.

Unfortunately, you might take the complexity at face value – and just assume that you will “never get anywhere” — that you might as well just “deal with your fate.”

This is a tragedy, in that, you may be overlooking simple, easy solutions not only to your social security disability problems but also to other problems in your life.

The challenge is: how do you find the right people and resources to connect you with positive solutions and take some of the burden off? While the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo obviously cannot guarantee success and can’t help you with every facet of your challenges, we have a vast and deep bench of legal talent, and we can examine the elements of your case and help you formulate a strategic blueprint to get what you want.

While Your Charlotte Social Security Disability Quest Has in Common with Michael Phelps’ Quest to be the Most Decorated Olympian Ever

August 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

At first blush, you may not put yourself in the same category as elite Olympian Michael Phelps. After all, you’re struggling to tap North Carolina social security disability benefits and other help to manage your finances, business, medical costs, etc. Meanwhile, Michael Phelps just retired at the age of 27 in tip-top shape as the most decorated Olympian in the history of the world.

However, you and Michael Phelps actually have more in common than you realize.

As a Charlotte social security disability beneficiary (or would-be beneficiary), you face difficult odds on many levels. Your resources are limited. Your time is limited. Your energy is limited. Michael Phelps faced all those constraints, by the way, as he trained for his various Olympic runs. But he managed to overcome them in high style. How?

The answer boils down one word: Focus.

When you have a very, very clear vision of what you want to achieve in mind, you can easily leverage all sorts of resources in your life to help you achieve your ends. Just as important – perhaps even more important – you will have an easy mechanism to screen out “stuff” that might distract you. Getting distracted is a big problem if you lack a powerful focus pulling you towards success. Michael Phelps, for instance, developed a focus – rather, a series of sequential focuses – that helped him to train precisely, pick his battles, husband his resources, etc. He didn’t just dive into an Olympic size pool on day one and beat the pack. He methodically improved over time based on the clarity and intensity of his focus.

So too can you improve your journey towards wellness and financial health.

The problem is that focus does not come naturally to most people. We live in an age where everyone and his brother has advice, even on topics as arcane as North Carolina social security disability. There is too much information for us to sort, even if you had all the time in the world and all the mental and physical energy to make better decisions – which most of us obviously don’t have.

One useful way to shortcut this information overload problem is to find people or resources who have succeeded in the past in the precise quest that you are on right now.

In other words, if you want to be a great Olympic swimmer, you probably want to talk to great Olympic swimmers and the trainers of those swimmers.

If you want to be a great chef, you want to read about the journeys of the great chefs and how they learned and how they trained, etc.

Likewise if you want to be a successful North Carolina social security disability claimant, you want to find and cultivate resources that can help you become that.

So instead of focusing on everything that’s gone wrong in your life, focus on what you want to achieve now. What’s past is past. It cannot be changed. Michael J. Fox’s DeLorean from Back to the Future does not exist. But we can move forward. And the way to move forward is to accept what’s true now in your life, to identify where you want to be, and then to come up with ways to bridge the gap between what’s true now and what you want to be true later.

The social security disability law firm at DeMayo Law is here to help you make progress on all elements of that challenge.

Over 20% of North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits to Be Cut??

July 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In just four years, Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina and elsewhere might be slashed by a dramatic 21%, according to a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

That’s not the only stark news. Another study, conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), looked at over two decades’ worth of unemployment data; it found that Social Security Disability applications in North Carolina and elsewhere spikes by 10% whenever the unemployment rate goes up by just 1%.

Needless to say, conservative pundits and others who have serious reservations about the feasibility and structure of our nation’s entitlement programs are up in arms about the statistics. According to reports, eventually these programs will have to make concessions somewhere, and SSDI recipients will be among the first to see shrinkages.

Per projections, if Congress does nothing to change the trajectory or structure of these programs, by the year 2033, benefit cuts will need to be slashed by 25% across the board.

These numbers are scary, and the policy analysis can be incredibly “doomy and gloomy” – not exactly the optimism inspiring news that you need to get you through the day, if you’re dealing with back pain, a mental disorder, or a disease or physical ailments. You alone obviously cannot change behemoth institutions like SSDI – or even really understand in depth the philosophies critiquing and supporting the SSDI project.

Concentrate on what you can control and “let go” of stuff that you can’t control.

Your time, energy, and mental stamina are limited. You need to be focusing all your efforts right now on achieving a positive outcome for you and your family. That doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand with respect to these larger issues. But it does mean you need to focus.

Based on your current diagnosis and financial situation, what’s an ideal outcome for you? Get specific about how much money you need. Where do you want to live? How do you want to feel a year from now? Put your energy into mentally designing solutions and an ideal future. And then work on acquiring resources to help you turn that vision into reality.

For instance, the team at Michael A. DeMayo’s Law Offices is here to help if you have North Carolina Social Security Disability questions.

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.

North Carolina Social Security Disability: An Idea Grounded in the Laws of Nature and Evolution

June 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many critics of North Carolina social security disability suggest that our collective desire to “take care of” unwell or unfortunate members of society is somehow anomalous.

These critics will admit that modern human societies take care of the old and infirm. But they’ll build a case that, in the real world – back in our “hunter-gatherer” days or in the rest of the animal kingdom – “survival of the fittest” rules.

It’s hard to even describe this point of view as “Darwinian,” since it radically oversimplifies and misappreciates the entire paradigm that Darwin and his followers developed. But it’s an idea that has “legs” – in that, a lot of critics believe it or something akin to it. And if you or someone you love needs social security disability in Charlotte, you could find yourself unfairly attacked or criticized based on this pseudo-Darwinian argument.

We want you to be able to counter it effectively!

Here we go…

In point of fact, human hunter-gatherer societies often exhibited tremendous compassion to the old and infirm. Old sages, for instance, were often deemed to have magical or totemic powers and won the respect of their tribes, even if they could no longer work (e.g. sew oats, harvest, kill wild boars, et cetera).

Likewise, examples of this kind of altruism abound in the animal kingdom. One of the most graceful illustrations of this was on display during an episode of the beautiful documentary, Frozen Planet, which depicts life in the Arctic and the Antarctic regions of our planet. In one scene, two wolves are hunting down a group of buffalo up in the Taiga in the Arctic. The wolves pry away a small, helpless buffalo and attack him. It looks like the buffalo will be finished. But then the herd charges back and surrounds their young, wounded mate and repulses the wolf attackers.

It turns out, these buffalos not only protect the young and infirm but also the elderly.

In other words, this “collective obligation to the individual” is a deep and diverse and powerful feature of nature. Altruism arises out of evolution – it’s not an aberration from it! And that’s such an important point to consider.

Of course, these theoretical concerns are probably less on your mind than more practical considerations, such as: how can I get benefits? How can I deal with my unfair insurer? What should I do about my career? How do I deal with the bureaucracy? Et cetera.

For help with that, look to the team at DeMayo Law for a clear-headed, free case evaluation.

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.

More People On Social Security Disability in North Carolina and Elsewhere: What Does It Mean?

May 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The number of workers who collect social security disability insurance in North Carolina (and elsewhere in the US) has spiked over the past five years, according to recent survey data. In December 2007, for instance, 7.1 million workers collected social security disability insurance (SSDI). In April 2012, that number had spiked to 8.7 million – a rise of nearly 25%. According to professional analysts at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase, this statistic can explain – in and of itself! – about 25% of the drop in the US labor force participation since the beginning of the “great recession” of 2008.

What’s causing this? What are the ramifications?

When people hear about these statistics, they often chime in with their opinions. And there is no shortage of theories. For instance, an executive at a Washington organization known as the National Academy of Social Insurance, Virginia Reno, suggested that the rotten economy created a series of disincentives for certain people to return to work – particularly people who work “blue collar” jobs and who find themselves stranded in an increasingly service-dominated economy.

On a more practical note, the surge of beneficiaries may have implications for you. The queue is getting longer. More and more people are applying for SSDI. In 1990, for instance, only 8 out of 1,000 people applied for SSDI. Last year, that figure was more than double – 18 out of 1,000 working age Americans sought social disability benefits. The economy is contracting, and more and more people are going on benefits programs or seeking benefits.

Rooting out the whys and wherefores of this trend is a fraught business. We can speculate.

For instance, one of the clearest trends in health data has to do with obesity and diabetes rates. Epidemiologists now agree that we are facing what’s essentially an epidemic of obesity and diabetes (“diabesity,” as some people call it, because the two diseases are so closely linked). So whatever might be driving this epidemic might also be indirectly contributing to the woes and frustrations of social security disability.

For help understanding this program and understanding what you can do to maximize your benefits and minimize your stress, connect today with the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free, confidential, and complete consultation.

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

May 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

North Carolina Social Security Disability – The Price of Not Knowing

May 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Why is the quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability so stressful? Why does it keep you up at night? Why are you fretting about the results of your administrative law judge hearing, reconsideration, or other action?

You might default to the obvious answer: you need money. You’re worried because you want to secure benefits to pay for your medical care and pay for your life. That’s all well and good – you definitely need money to support yourself and your family during this crisis. Perhaps you’ve been in financial straits before – or operated in an uncertain environment – and you found it to be hugely stressful. For instance, maybe back when you started working, you had no idea whether you’d receive a promotion or not, and that was stressful. But the stress of that in no way could compare to the stress of your fight for disability benefits. Why?

One reason is that your illness or injury has compromised your ability to work and earn money. And that’s scary. Because if you are out of a job, or you’re not getting promoted, or you’re struggling with credit card debt, your problem is strictly financial. You can always, theoretically, find a new job, get a mentor, or otherwise increase your earning capacity. But when you are sick and injured – and potentially at risk for more health problems in the future – this loss of earning capacity is particularly scary.

The second big reason why it’s scary is that you’re being held in limbo. If you got a call tomorrow from a bureaucrat who told you that there was no way on earth you would ever receive North Carolina social security disability, you’d probably be upset and would rightfully rail against the unfairness of this. But, as the days or weeks went by, you would come to terms with the unfairness of the system, and you would find another way to meet your meet needs. Life would go on, and you would manage somehow.

On the other hand, when you are in limbo – when you have no idea whether you’re going to get the benefits or not – you are spending a lot of time focusing on the pros and cons of different outcomes. Your brain has a very difficult time letting it go. And this causes stress and panic – the vast majority of which is counterproductive, because stress and panic do not help your outcome unless they are connected to positive action.

So where are we all going with this? The answer is essentially this: Whether you work with DeMayo Law or another North Carolina social security disability law firm, you need to give yourself a break. Recognize your challenges, and realize that clarity is needed for you to enjoy true stress relief.

More Web Resources:

Why uncertainty causes stresses

How to overcome uncertainty

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 – The Bear Bones Basics

April 10, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you discovered the hard news that your 58-year old mother has early onset dementia, or you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease that’s compelled you to take substantial time off of work, you are interested in learning about North Carolina social security disability benefits.

This blog often addresses the challenges facing applicants and beneficiaries of programs like social security disability and supplemental security income. But it’s never a bad idea to review the key basics. To that end, here is a summary to help you understand a little bit more about what this program is… and is not.

SSDI – A Little Bit Like a Government Insurance Program

If you worked for certain amount of time and paid FICA taxes for about a decade or longer, you may qualify to receive a monthly stipend called Social Security Disability, if/when a mental or physical problem prevents you from earning a living. You can collect this income irrespective of whether you got hurt at work or not. In other words, this is not like worker’s comp: you can pick up a rare disease on a vacation to Africa, for instance, and come back and still collect benefits. You don’t have to prove that you got sick at work or anything.

Your past earnings will help to determine how much money you can get. When you apply for Social Security Disability, you will have to wait a certain amount of time before collecting benefits. Your filing deadline (or lack thereof) will depend on when you last worked. Be wary of deferring the application process. If you delay, the concept of “date last insured” can come into play and cause you problems. (Follow the link bottom of the page to learn more about the date last insured concept).

The vast majority of SSDI applications are turned down – approximately 2/3rds. The government publishes guidelines to help you speed the process along and improve your chances of collecting the money. But the situation can be quite overwhelming, even for people who are young, healthy, and cognitively capable. If you are struggling with your application, it really may be worth your while to pass the baton to a friend or a family member who has the time, experience, and resourcefulness to walk you through the steps. Alternatively (and/or) you may wish to connect with a law firm in North Carolina that specializes in Social Security Disability benefits.

Note that SSDI may be a safety net, but the program is structured to encourage you to return to employment if/when possible. To that end, you need to be prepared to provide periodic evidence that you remain disabled or sick – and these checks can be somewhat intrusive.

To make the process work for you, invest time in educating yourself about SSDI – what it means, what the common pitfalls are, what the experts recommend, etc. Yes, the concepts and bureaucracy can be confusing. But it’s well worth your time to learn more and thus augment your chances of success.

More Web Resources:

Date Last Insured

FICA Taxes

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

Confronting Your North Carolina Social Security Disability “Worst Nightmare”

March 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Taking a Good, Hard Look at the Worst Case Outcomes

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

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

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

Sounds pretty rough, doesn’t it?

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Works of Ernest Becker

Writing Down and Dealing With Your Worst Fears

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.

North Carolina Social Security Disability: Is the Earth Round…Or Flat?

March 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Let’s get philosophical for a second. Most of the discussions on this North Carolina social security disability blog pertain to “nuts and bolts” issues. We talk about the emotional, logistical, and medical turmoil that hurt and sick North Carolinians experience. Sometimes we touch upon the grander debate – how on earth can we reform Social Security Disability in North Carolina and elsewhere in a way that’s equitable, reasonable, and legal? We even touch upon issues that concern the caregivers of Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries.

But let’s pull back our telescope and take a look at the broader landscape.

Specifically, let’s see whether we can uncover some broader truths about surviving (and thriving) while on Social Security Disability. Almost all of us (at least in some areas of our lives) operate under false beliefs akin to the Ptolemaic belief that the stars are painted on a giant glass globe above the earth. Given our present day understanding of astronomy, the Ptolemaic “heavenly spheres” hypothesis about astronomy is completely preposterous. Today, for instance, we know that earth is but a submicroscopic fleck of dust within a vast vast ocean of the cosmos. We haven’t “solved” astronomy. But we at least understand that the earth is not the center of everything and that the stars are vastly more than just dots painted on a glass ceiling for our entertainment.

Unfortunately, it’s very very difficult to spot false beliefs.

And this is just speculation, but it may be that the bigger and broader the mass delusion, the more under its sway you will be. It’s the classic case of the emperor has no clothes. Let’s say you own a green car. You can see that it’s green. But imagine what would happen if everyone you met, including your family members, friends, coworkers, auto mechanics, etc. – insisted that the car was blue. You think you’d put up a resistance. But after a while, you would almost certainly “cave” and agree that the car was in fact blue.

The point is: it’s extremely hard to resist delusions that are extremely common and never questioned. All of this is to say that we may be operating under certain false beliefs or bad habits that make solving our North Carolina Social Security Disability related problems needlessly frustrating and fraught.

Quick fixes to this false belief problem are few and far between. But you can connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to explore your rights and opportunities for navigating the Social Security Disability bureaucracy more effectively.

More Web Resources:

If everyone said the earth was flat, would you start to believe them?

The Ptolemaic view of the cosmos

Humility and the Quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability Solutions

February 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Humility is a sign of strength

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

February 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

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

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

February 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Can we fix our economy without fixing the obesity epidemic?

How much does obesity cost America every year?

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

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

January 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Black Swans and White Swans

Social Security Disability Doomsday Prophecy

North Carolina Social Security Disability 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

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

October 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Surprised to hear that?

Consider this line of argument:

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Science of Satisfaction

Is your problem really “the problem”?

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

October 22, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

New York City Horse Traffic Problem

Paradigm Shifts Tend to be “Bolts From The Blue”

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)?

Are They Going to Take Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits Away?

August 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The cable news networks have been ringing the alarm. Our country is in debt. Our state is in sore economic shape. Are your North Carolina social security benefits be next in the chopping block? In today’s political environment – where the stock market can drop over 500 points, zip up more than 400 points next day, and then plunge again more than 500 points a day after that – anything is possible. We are living through a top teach every time, economically speaking, and many pundits, economic leaders, and entitlement theoreticians – from both sides of the political spectrum – are talking about reforming our national entitlement system.

Whether you need North Carolina social security disability or supplemental security income (SSI) to pay your bills while you fight a bitterly difficult illness, or you need those benefits to feed your family while you recover from a horrific workplace accident that left you permanently disabled and partially paralyzed, you crave real, actionable, creditable advice about how to protect your benefits and make strategic choices going forward. First of all, the catastrophic economic scenarios bandied about on the cable news talk shows and blogosphere have a relatively small likelihood of coming true. The United States is not going to transform into Greece overnight, in other words. And even if it did, you and your family would likely find a way to manage the changes and adjust accordingly.

But the fear itself of economic catastrophes is its own animal – its own problem. To address that fear, you need to look it in the eye. You need to understand its root causes. Why are you so concerned about losing your benefits? What would the most positive outcome be to your entitlement problem? Far too few beneficiaries take the time to sit down and think through these issues. But if you never take responsibility for identifying a best path forward, you may fail to take advantage of the resources and tools at your disposal.

That’s all a little abstract. So let’s make it concrete it with an example. Say you are an elderly woman in her 70s who suffers from diabetes and needs social security disability pay for a modest apartment and prescription medications. You watch the cable news shows and develop a paralyzing terror about the economy. But this doesn’t do anything positive for you except keep you awake at night and allow you to watch you your favorite reality TV shows. If you focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t control, you might make far more progress than you realize is even possible. For instance, connecting with an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm is a great first step toward dealing with benefits issues and minimizing the effects that the state and national economy will have on your pocketbook.

More Web Resources:

August 2011 Stock Market Swings

Social Security on the chopping block?

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

How the “Adult Baby” Might Impact North Carolina Social Security Disability

May 31, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On May 20th, The Atlantic ran a web story that’s frivolous in tone but that may have ultimately a pretty interesting impact on North Carolina Social Security Disability.

“The Adult Baby Is Our Best Hope to Fix Social Security,” written by Associate Editor Derek Thompson, discusses the hilarious and sad case of 30-year old Stanley Thornton, Jr., an adult man who dresses and acts like a baby for fun.

Mr. Thornton, Jr. was recently featured on the A&E show Taboo. After his appearance on the show, investigators realized that the man had been collecting Social Security Disability insurance, even though, in Thompson’s words “Stanley can determine appropriate behavior in public, drive himself around, start a website for other adult babies, and ‘custom make baby furniture to support a 350 pound adult.’” Republicans – Senator Tom Coburn in particular — lashed into Thornton, Jr. for collecting disability when he is clearly an able-bodied man.

If you are someone who really needs North Carolina Social Security Disability to survive, you might feel miffed by a comparison to Mr. Thornton, Jr. It’s clear that the debate over SSD reform is only beginning to heat up. One of the most affecting moments in Mr. Thompson’s piece in the Atlantic is a graph called “All Social Security Disable Beneficiaries and Current Payment Status, December 1970 through 2009.” This graph shows a really disturbing spike in the rates of disabled workers, widows, and adult children. Starting essentially in between 1985 and 1988, the rates sloped upwards and upwards. In 2009, the total number of disabled beneficiaries had more than quadrupled from 1970.

What can explain this massive rise in disabled workers?

Well, clearly something in our environment has changed. Many people blame cultural shifts – for instance, maybe we have been just getting lazier and more indulgent collectively. But that’s a really kind of dissatisfying answer, isn’t it? Are we really that much different, emotionally, socially, and otherwise than we were back in just 1970? It seems far more likely that there is some other prominent environmental factor that’s causing this.

One controversial, but possibly likely explanation is that we’ve radically altered our diets, and our shift towards a low fat, high carbohydrate and high sugar diet — as enshrined in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid — precipitated not only an obesity and diabetes epidemic, but also an epidemic of workers who are sick and injured because they are not getting appropriate nutrition. Hence the SSD and SSI crisis! This obviously is a radical and controversial point of view, but it boasts a surprisingly significant amount of objective evidential support, as science journalist Gary Taubes describes in great detail in his 500 page book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Do you need help with a benefits issue? If so, connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to discuss your possible options.

More Web Resources:

The Adult Baby Is Our Best Hope to Fix Social Security

Gary Taubes

North Carolina Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) “Must Reports”—Info You Need to Provide on Pain of Penalty

April 1, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

This North Carolina Social Security Disability blog often covers news issues, practical tips and tricks, and even philosophical discussions about how to reform the SSD system. Today, we are going focus on something extremely specific. When you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must provide a lot of information to the government. According to “what you need to know when you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI),” a pamphlet put out by www.socialsecurity.gov, if you withhold this information or provide false info, you may be sanctioned or otherwise penalized.

You will receive a “penalty” for not reporting changes in a timely fashion. A penalty means a loss of money on your check. You could lose anywhere from $25 to $100.

A “sanction” is a different kind of punishment. When you provide false information or withhold info that would be important, you can be “sanctioned,” which means that your payments may cease entirely for 6 months up to 2 years. If you apply for North Carolina Social Security Disability or SSI, you must provide accurate and complete information about the following topics:

¥ Whether you move or change your address
¥ Whether you get divorced, separated or married or change your name
¥ Whether you leave the US
¥ Whether someone comes into your household or moves out of it
¥ Whether you change your direct deposit accounts
¥ Whether your income changes or a family member’s income changes or your resources otherwise change (such as you get help with living your expenses)
¥ Whether you become a parent, enter or leave an institution, get convicted of a crime, or get a warrant for your arrest
¥ Whether you violate your probation or parole terms
¥ Whether you become a sponsored non-citizen
¥ Whether you stop or start attending school (applies only to people ages 18 to 22)
¥ Whether your immigration status changes
¥ Whether you get better
¥ Whether you are no longer able to manage funds (or if a person who gets SSI dies)

You can get the pamphlet “what you need to know when you get Supplemental Security Income, (SSI)” to learn more about the requirements discussed above. Unfortunately, even minor bureaucratic slips up (such as failing to report certain income or taking too long to notify SSI of a change in your immigration status) could create needless drama for you.

Alas, individuals who are on government entitlement programs often lack the strength, stamina, and general wherewithal to stay organized. To that end, you may benefit greatly from speaking with an experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm about what to do (and what not to do) to optimize the benefits you get and to prevent accidentally losing all or some of these benefits through penalties or sanctions.

More Web Resources:

what you need to know when you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

www.socialsecurity.gov

 
 

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