Topic: SSD Appeals

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

February 21, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 22, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

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

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.

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.

Will Social Security Disability Be Affected by the Presidential Election?

October 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Too Many Chefs in the North Carolina Social Security Disability Kitchen

February 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Way Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen

An Expert…Or Just Pretending To Be One?

For North Carolina Social Security Disability Caregivers: Book #4: Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone

January 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Being a caregiver for someone who is sick, hurt, or otherwise incapacitated and who needs social security disability in North Carolina is a colossal task. In a four-part series, we’ve taken a look at different books that help caregivers find inspiration, freedom from overwhelm, and patience and calm.

The final book of our series can help you break through your isolation.

You care for someone who is sick or injured. But even though that person provides a certain amount of company and companionship, you’re often left feeling isolated and alone. As we discussed in previous posts, caregivers often sacrifice tremendous amounts of time and energy – as well as personal relationships and fulfillment – to provide much-needed care.

By cutting yourself off from your support networks, friends, family members, and others who might bring joy — or even just a little frivolity — to your life, you undermine your ability to navigate your world and imperil your capacity to deliver compassionate, effective assistance to the person in your life who needs you badly.

Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone is a “must read” if you are struggling alone in the trenches. Ferrazzi’s thesis is pretty simple: Your success, happiness, and ability to solve problems depends on the nature, diversity, and strength of your personal relationships. Even if you’re introspective, shy, or pressed for time, you can still leverage some of the principles and ideas in Ferrazzi’s book to connect with the world, find help from reliable sources, and build your network. Ferrazzi’s book is, in some sense, tailored to professionals and executives who want to “get ahead.” But his general message — the concepts, ideas, and strategies that he discusses — should be useful for caregivers living and working in isolation (or near isolation).

Sadly and ironically, caregivers working in isolation usually recognize the value of good relationships. After all, the work you do is testimony to how much you value human companionship.

You need not struggle on your own. By tapping into your personal network – or by expanding and cultivating it – you can get through a lot of your difficult situations faster. You can even help the person you care for identify better treatment, figure out financial problems, and solve logistical crises (e.g. how she can get to her son’s wedding next summer).

Reach out to an experienced and highly recognized North Carolina social security disability law firm for more assistance.

More Web Resources:

Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone

How other people can help you solve deep and abiding problems

For North Carolina Social Security Disability Caregivers: Book #3 – Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

January 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When you are injured or sick in North Carolina, and you need social security disability or some other benefit program to pay your bills and Medicare costs, life is very difficult.

Things can also be extremely rough for the caregivers of North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries. After all, the caregivers often must endure grueling, time-consuming, physically demanding, and unrewarding tasks – and do so at the expense of their own needs, businesses, and, at times, families. If you are a caregiver, you’ve probably suffered from remorse, resentment, or frustration from time to time.

Ask yourself if these statements resonate with you:

•    “I sometimes feel really annoyed, even angry, at the person I’m taking caring of, even though he or she has done nothing to me.”
•    “I don’t know how much more of this caregiving I can take.”
•    “This is so unfair. This was not supposed to be how my relationship with (the sick or injured person) was supposed to turn out.”
•    “I have to feel numb; otherwise I would just break down into tears.”

Renewing Your Inspiration

Since you act as a source of support and strength for someone else, you need to tap into a reservoir of support and strength yourself. Otherwise, where will the loving energy come from? One way to re-inspire yourself – it may sound silly – is to revisit classic, fun inspirational tales. One wonderful fantastical book that has inspired millions is Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Yes, this is a children’s book. But it’s often handed out to newly minted high school and college graduates, because its message is universal and full of hope.

This book talks in general, poetic terms about what it takes to overcome “the waiting place” and “games you can’t win because you play against you.” These are extremely profound (albeit simple) lessons, and they can never be learned too much.

If you’re struggling with a deficit of hope or inspiration, this book can at least put a smile on your face and give you a little bit of charge to deal with the potential boredom, sadness, logistical problems, and financial dilemmas that you face as a caregiver.

If nothing else, remember: there is beauty in every moment of existence. It all comes down to your perspective on events – how you think about and process information.

For help with a specific question regarding benefits, appealing a judge’s decision, reconsideration, and any other social security disability or supplemental security income quandary, connect with a qualified North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Finding inspiration when you feel lost and tired

North Carolina Social Security Disability Time Wasting: The So-Called “Angry Birds” Problem.

January 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Have you been put on bed rest due to an injury or illness, and you are considering applying for social security disability in North Carolina to pay for care and other expenses while you heal? If so, you may have noticed that you are less productive than you used to be. And it’s not just because of your injury or illness. You may find yourself drawn to procrastinating even simple chores that you could physically handle. Instead of doing these chores, you spend time watching TV, surfing your favorite websites, hanging out on Facebook, watching inane celebrity Tweets, or playing cell phone games, like Angry Birds.

The “Angry Birds” Problem

The insidious time wasting that almost all of us find ourselves doing from time to time is particularly destructive to North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries. It’s not that Angry Birds isn’t a fun game (it sure is) or that reading the latest celeb gossip on tmz.com isn’t often amusing and shocking (it sure is). Rather, you may have mission-critical tasks to complete and not that much energy, mental fire power, and time to get them done.

For instance, say you are extremely sick. You only have about four hours a day where you are not groggy from your medications to do things like wash your dishe, pay your bills and make phone calls. If you fritter those hours away on Facebook or whatever, you could wind up slowly but surely building toward a serious life crisis. The quality of your home degrades; you may become depressed or even ill from spoiled food. If you fail to take care of your bills and other paperwork, you may fall behind on insurance payments and get kicked off your insurance.

All sorts of bad things can happen if you let your life slack and get out of control.

Taming the “Angry Birds problem” on your own is easier said than done. You may need to rely on friends, family members, and trusted and independent advisors, like the team at your North Carolina social security disability law firm, to introduce you to best practices and help to make sure that you are taking care of yourself, your financial affairs, your mental health, and your rehabilitation plan.

More web resources:

Addicted to Angry Birds?

When You Are Sick, It Can Be a Downward Spiral.

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

January 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

Here are some possibilities:

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

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

More Web Resources:

Can Anything Save Social Security?

Doomsday Predictions Are Often Wrong

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

August 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

The first key challenge involves uncertainty.

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

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

Dealing with the Uncertainty and Frustration Strategically

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Caregiver emotions

uncertainty causes stress

Don’t Handle Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Appeal This Way…

July 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you have been struggling and frustrated with the North Carolina Social Security Disability appeals process, you are not alone.

Some people take rejection, setbacks, and bureaucracy very personally. Indeed, a 49-year-old man in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Mr. Louis Jerome Smith, got so frustrated and fed up with the kinks in his claim that he threatened to assault and murder employees of the Social Security Administration. Unsurprisingly, he was arrested and indicted. In February, he pled guilty to three counts in US District Court. But thanks to help from the office of his local Senator, Thad Cochran, Mr. Smith may soon get a new disability hearing.

According to the Hattiesburg American, a local paper in Mississippi, the 49-year-old had been struggling with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The night before his last scheduled hearing before Judge Lanier Williams, police arrested Smith because he made threats against personnel.

The Hattiesburg American article had some jaw-dropping quotes about the affair: “Smith said his troubles with the Social Security Administration have been going on for some time. ‘I’ve been applying for Social Security ever since I was – gosh, in my 20s… I’ve just had a hard time struggling with working in society.’ Smith has been diagnosed with several disorders at different times by different doctors, including paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and various personality disorders. He said he has had more than 150 jobs in his life.”

The Hattiesburg American article also said that Smith alleged that he was physically and sexually assaulted in prison. He also claimed that he did not intend to threaten SSA personnel – he was actually making veiled suicidal threats, instead! “I didn’t mean like I was going to do anything…I never had any intention to do anything to Social Security.”

If you are just casually reading this article or blog post, you might shrug off Smith’s actions as bizarre, inspired by lunacy and essentially irrelevant to “real” cases of frustration with the North Carolina Social Security Disability application benefits. After all, the article seems to suggest that Smith has serious mental problems as well as a history of clashing with authority figures.

But the SSD and SSI system can often lead to fraught and frustrating decisions and can challenge the tempers of even calm people who have never done a thing wrong in their lives.

One root cause of this frustration is lack of knowledge. When your life is uncertain — when you are not sure whether you will get significant benefits or not — you face challenges planning your life appropriately. In some ways, not knowing is worse than getting a negative decision. If your claim is denied, then so be it. You figure out some other way to manage your finances, and you move on. But when you are in a holding pattern – in limbo – you can literally find yourself paralyzed with inaction.

Fortunately, an experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can explain your rights, options, and possible strategic paths to take.

More Web Resources:

Mr. Louis Jerome Smith’s assault case

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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

July 14, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

common senior scams

common SSD scams

North Carolina Social Security Disability Quandary: How much does your ALJ matter?

July 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability applicants who take their cases to Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) might like to think that all judges are essentially equal — that all judges use a similar standard for accepting or denying appeals.

But a recent expose in USA Today reveals that your choice of judge can profoundly influence your results. The Social Security Administration – which supports 1,400 Administrative Law Judges around the country – only recently allowed the judges’ numbers to be posted on the official government website. The USA Today story says that both the Inspector General at the SSA and the U.S. Congress have noted a huge discrepancy – some ALJs accept WAY more appeals than others. But both authorities are loathe to interfere with the independence of judges.

According to the USA Today article, two outlier judges include:

• Judith Showalter, an ALJ from Dover, Delaware, who denied 82% of her nearly 300 claims this year.

• Huntington West Virginia judge, David Daugherty, who denied just 119 out of nearly 8,400 claims since October 2004. (Incidentally, his radically low rate, combined with an inappropriately cozy relationship with an attorney, led the SSA to put him on indefinite leave).

The whimsical and arbitrary nature of these ALJ statistics create an extra layer of uncertainty for hurt workers who desperately need North Carolina social security disability to pay bills, fund medical treatment, and strive for rehabilitation amid tough circumstances.

If you or a family member you care about has been struggling with how to approach an ALJ hearing or any other aspect of an SSD or SSI claim, a well respected North Carolina social security disability law firm can provide the guidance, resources, and strategic knowledge you need to make the progress you want to make.

More Web Resources:

Administrative Law Judges (ALJs)

Huntington West Virginia judge, David Daugherty

Longer Wait Times for North Carolina Social Security Disability Appeals?

July 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A June 23 story in USA Today has many North Carolina social security disability applicants really worried.

A 5% jump in SSD appeals cases over last year may create a horrific backlog (think L.A.’s “Carmaggedon” but with SSD applications) that likely will increase wait times, stress administrators, and compel injured/sick applicants to wait longer in limbo. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) – a data mining organization based in Syracuse University – examined SSD appeal hearing data and found that, as of May 27, the queue of pending appeals had reached nearly 750,000.

The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Michael Astrue, responded to the TRAC data by trying to quell concerns about wait times. According to Astrue, the data do not necessarily suggest that the agency won’t meet its goal of reducing waiting time for benefits. More specifically: the wait time from October 2010 through April 2011 was just about a year – 367 days. That’s way down from 514 days (the all time maximum), which hit applicants back in fiscal year 2008. The SSA wants to get that wait time down to 270 days by 2013, irrespective of the “growth” in number of appeals.

If you are an SSD applicant – or if you are friends or family members with someone who is sick and injured and who needs answers about benefit questions — all of these statistics may just seem like confusing nonsense. What you need and want is someone to patiently listen to your concerns, answer urgent questions you have about the process, and tell you exactly what to expect and when to expect it.

Your best avenue for developing this kind of support is to connect with a creditable and ethical North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Carmaggedon
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Will North Carolina Social Security Disability Coverage Be “Enough”?

June 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A June 1st editorial in the Boston Globe raised an intriguing question that has relevance for potential North Carolina social security disability claimants: Will disability benefits be “enough”?

Elliot Raphaelson, a correspondent for the Globe, phrased the issue this way: “According to Money Magazine, chances are almost 20% that an employee will be disabled for at least a year sometime during his or her working life. Meanwhile, corporations are reducing their percentage of employees who are covered with long-term disability insurance. Apparently, only 48% of US companies offered this coverage in 2009.” He warns: “you should not depend on social security disability. To qualify you must be unable to work in any substantial job… you will not qualify for benefits for at least five months after the event that disables you. And you will not be approved unless the doctor certifies your disability will last at least a year.” Raphaelson also points out that approximately 2/3rds of social security disability applicants are turned down at first.

A lot of the issues that he and other pundits raise about the limits of North Carolina social security disability are crucial. But it’s also vital to scrutinize the use of the word “depend.” According to some philosophers of social security disability, no one should ever come to “depend” on government entitlement programs like SSD, SSI, workers’ comp, and unemployment. These programs simply serve to give hurt, injured, and otherwise disadvantaged people support structures to get back on their feet.

Yes, the SSD application process should be a stress free, easy, and simple process. In theory, everyone would like that. In practice, however, claimants often need to rely on the services of experienced North Carolina social security disability law firms to get a fair benefits arrangement and/or to move the appeals process forward per an equitable and realistic timeframe.

In summary: are there challenges to getting SSD and SSI? Absolutely. Is the system set up in a fair and equitable way? Not by a long shot, according to many independent reviews. Will complaining about the system’s inadequacies resolve your personal crises? Not likely. Are there proactive and constructive ways to approach your issues to get better results? Again – absolutely.

When you are sick, injured, or otherwise incapacitated, you may begin to see the world from a kind of scarcity mindset. So it may be bit difficult for you at first to detect potential support structures, programs, and people who can help you. That’s why it’s so important to turn to respected, reputable, and experienced guides, like a trusted North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

If you need disability coverage, Social Security probably won’t be enough


Define Disability

Great News for North Carolina Social Security Disability Applicants: Federal Government Now Required to Write in Plain English!

June 2, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

President Obama just signed the Plain Writing Act, a powerful law that will undoubtedly help North Carolina social security disability applicants who get confused by the officious and generally weird sounding language used in government documents.

The Act is the culmination of years of effort by people like Annetta Cheek, the Chairwoman for the Center for Plain Language. Cheek worked for Vice President Al Gore on federal regulations writing. She summarized a core frustration that many North Carolina social security disability applicants have: “Most of what the government writes has too much stuff.”

According to an AP article on the Plain Writing Act, federal agencies, starting in October, must “start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public. The government will still be allowed to write nonsensically to itself.”

Unfortunately, confused applicants will not be able to sue the federal government for continuing to be obtuse in the face of these new rules. Cheek, according to the AP, “predicts significant improvement” thanks to the law. Many ornate, legalistic or hard to “parse” words will be banished from documents, including “pursuant, promulgated, thereunder, commencing, in accordance with, herein, precluded, heretofore, evidenced and practicable to name just a sampling of the no-no’s.”

All that said, even if and when the government gets its act together to write to instructions in cleaner, clearer language, SSD and SSI applicants will likely have plenty of questions and confusions. A North Carolina Social Security disability law firm can help you identify and deal with those concerns and clarify precisely what you need to do, when you need to do it and how you need do it, so you can rest assured that you are taking the right actions to get and keep your benefits (or appeal a negative decision). This way, you can go back to living your life, focusing on recovery, and taking care of your family without forfeiting key benefits.

More Web Resources:

Center for Plain Language

Plain Writing Act

While You Wait For Your North Social Security Disability Appeal: Staying Motivated and Happy

May 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness – or if you suffered a grievous injury that’s going to keep you out of work for a year or longer – you may qualify to start collecting North Carolina social security disability benefits.

But going after SSD (or supplemental security income – SSI) is often far more vexing and complicated than applicants first realize. Some very legitimate, deserving people can find themselves caught up in a seemingly never ending appeals process. This lengthy limbo can make an already stressful situation practically unbearable. You need money to live and support yourself and your family – and to get good medical care. But you have to wait – seemingly indefinitely – for an answer as to how much North Carolina social security disability you will be able to collect.

Good news: there are almost always “short cuts” to these problems. One of the most obvious and useful is to retain the services of an experienced and powerful North Carolina social security disability law firm to help you work through the appeals process, explain the system to you, and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

You can also talk to financial planners, reach out to social support networks, meditate, exercise, eat better, reflect on your life, and “do special things” for yourself that you’ve long put off – such as vacations, spa treatments, et cetera. But to attain a deeper sense of calm, you may want to avail yourself one of the oldest “tricks in the book”: writing stuff down. Getting your frustrations, confusions, and anxieties out of your head and on to paper (or a computer Word document) can be surprisingly empowering in a remarkably short period of time.

One interesting phenomenon which many people who do this exercise observe: the number of things that we worry about is actually quite limited. Maybe you worry about your health, certain aspect of your financial situation, and a key relationship that’s on the rocks. Maybe you have one or two dozen concerns that are really pressing on your mind. But chances are, no more than that – at least no more “big stuff.”

Once you see everything written out, you can then “wrangle with it” in a far more effective way. For instance, one clear anxiety you may have is over your appeals process. When will the appeals finish? Will you get your money? How much will you get? Et cetera. Simply acknowledging that you have these recurring thoughts – and figuring out what you need to do about those thoughts so that you can feel relaxed and get them off your mind – we will go a long way towards giving you some sense of control – and even happiness – even in the midst of the chaos and confusion of your claims appeal.

More Web Resources:

Eat that frog

The search for short cuts in life?

Helping Someone on North Carolina Social Security Disability

May 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Do you have a friend or a family member who is currently going through the (often grueling) process of trying to collect North Carolina social security disability or supplemental security income? What can you do for that person to make him or her feel more comfortable, more empowered, less confused, and more excited about the future?

You might be surprised by the resources available to you and to your friend/relative on North Carolina social security disability. Support groups, financial planners, life planners, senior centers, local and state charities, religious groups, and community groups can all provide you with support, ideas, networks of people/companies who can help, and much more.

When you offer your care – or offer to help in another way – pay attention to the scope of your involvement. Caregivers who enter into commitments casually or without thinking them through may later find that they are resentful, guilt prone, and frustrated because they have put the needs of the SSD or SSI recipient ahead of their own.

Know why you provide the care you do; otherwise, both you and the recipient will wind up “losing” in some way. Also, don’t feel like you have to “do it yourself” when it comes to providing assistance. Yes, do the laundry, make meals, listen to the person as he or she reveals inner frustrations and dreams. But don’t feel like you have to also be the travel coordinator, logistics go-to person, or free legal advice giver.

In fact, if you take on too many roles – or specifically, roles that you are not comfortable doing or don’t have experience doing – you could cause more harm than good.

For instance, if you’re not savvy with money, you could wind up encouraging the recipient to invest with a less than qualified or even corrupt financial planner. To tackle the legal logistics, connect with a qualified North Carolina social security disability law firm to help you get clear answers about the SSD appeals process.

Don’t go it alone. In order for you to provide the best support possible to the person you care about, get the support that you need to do the job right – and with minimal stress and bother – so that you can be totally present for the other person in this time of need.

More Web Resources:

Don’t go it alone

What to say to a sick friend

Super Seniors: How Strength Training Might Save the North Carolina Social Security Disability System

May 20, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants are often frail, infirm, sick, overwhelmed, and intimidated by the benefits process.

Furthermore, entitlements are often designed to help people compensate for their weaknesses – in a best case scenario, they will “get back” to the place they were before they got sick or injured. There is not a lot of sense of “after you get through this process, you’ll be stronger and better and happier than you were before”… and that’s a shame.

Human beings like progress. We want to believe that the best of our lives is ahead of us. Imagine if North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants aimed for more hopeful outcomes: that could have a hugely positive impact.

One way to do this might be to train hurt and sick people take better care of their musculature through simple resistance training.

Studies suggest that seniors and others who strengthen their muscles will be far less likely to suffer the ravages of problems like osteoporosis, arthritis, nerve impingements, etc, etc. Getting strong is good, in other words. Resistance training may confer far more health benefits than other kinds of exercise, such as cardiovascular training or even traditional stretching modalities.

This isn’t to say that seniors shouldn’t be doing yoga or shouldn’t be going for walks with their friends. And it’s also not to say that strength training is right for everybody. But imagine if seniors and other hurt workers got the appropriate physical therapy to not only recover from their accidents/injuries but also to get stronger than they were before it happened.

In the Slow Burn Fitness Revolution, strength trainer Fred Hahn and doctors Michael and Mary Dan Eades provide powerful evidence to suggest that resistance training can help people not only to recover from problems but also to get stronger than they’ve ever been.

Of course, if you are on SSD or SSI, you likely have additional problems – you may be struggling to get benefits owed, or you may be locked in a difficult appeals process, for instance. A North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can advise you and provide knowledge, resources and tools to achieve victory.

More Web Resources:

Protein Power blog

Slow Burn Fitness

North Carolina Social Security Disability – Part of the Solution, But Not the Whole Solution

May 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

For many hurt and sick workers, the quest to obtain a fair and just resolution to your North Carolina Social Security Disability struggle can be all encompassing. You celebrate every victory, no matter how minor. And you live for the day when the appeals process is over and you can safely collect your checks. But while your SSD and supplemental security income (SSI) payments can be essential tools, they cannot replace longer-term strategic thinking and planning.

Hurt and sick workers often cannot afford – or do not know how to acquire – good help to navigate their strategic crises. Vulnerable citizens may find themselves ripped off or scammed. Alternatively – and perhaps more commonly – people can waste a lot of time and energy devising their own “strategic plans” to get better, get back to work, and put their injuries/illness behind them. When you’re sick or hurt – especially if you’re sick or hurt permanently – your resources will be limited. This means that your strategy for how you deploy them is exceptionally important – more important, perhaps, than it would be if you were healthy and had “wiggle room” to make mistakes.

In other words, irrespective of how your quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability turns out, you should invest time into acquiring resources, processes, and systems to help you get on track and stay on track.

• If you’ve never worked with a financial planner, find someone you trust and leverage his/her resources.
• If your home is a mess and you are overwhelmed by bills, work with an organizational coach and/or a bookkeeper.
• Now is the time to call on friends, family members, and even neighbors to help you sort through your issues and regain some control over your fears.
• Try not to let pride stand in your way.

If you need help with a specific aspect of the process, an established and experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can work with you to manage your appeal and iron out any legal wrinkles associated with it. By availing yourself of attorneys, planners, organizers, friends, and family, you can make more strategically appropriate decisions.

More Web Resources

supplemental security income

SSI Scams and the elderly

SSD Scam out of Connecticut has North Carolina Social Security Disability Advocates Frustrated

May 13, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you turn on your computer news feed or flip on cable news, chances are you will hear stories about how people like North Carolina Social Security Disability recipients are “gaming the system” and taking more than their fair share of entitlements.

Clearly, politicos and working citizens are frustrated with the national debt and the imminent possible insolvency of social security. It’s natural to want to scapegoat. But people who claim North Carolina Social Security Disability often are in desperate need of the funds to pay for essentials like rent, food, and health care.

That’s why it’s so unfortunate to read about stories like this one out of Danbury, Connecticut. According to newstimes.com, “a 61-year-old Danbury woman was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for illegally receiving more than $45,000 in Social Security Disability benefits.” Ms. Jean Jones (nee Jean Henley) allegedly started collecting SSD in 2002 after she claimed she couldn’t work. Unfortunately, she banked the payments and simultaneously got another job. US District Court Judge Mark Kravitz ordered Ms. Jones to repay the benefits. So…that’s that.

Or is it?

Unfortunately, when individuals try to game the SSD system, inevitably, legal problems crop up, and the system itself gets strained.

Expect more and more political blustering and handwringing over how and when and why Social Security Disability monies should be distributed. As our national and state fiscal crises deepen, we’ll collectively be on the lookout for pesky crimes like the one Ms. Jones allegedly perpetrated, and probably we’re going to have less and less tolerance of bad behavior.

That said, it’s important to be compassionate and sensitive. Who knows what Ms. Jones’ story was – why she did what she did. We live in a culture in which we rush to judgment all the time. This can be a dangerous thing – especially when we don’t have all the facts and don’t have any emotional “nearness” to the people involved.

The bigger questions are: How can we in general repair social security and other entitlement programs to make them really work? That is, how can we make them useful for people who need them but not overly draining to our state and national coffers?

Another question: what should you do if you or someone you care about needs help with an SSD or SSI situation? Whether you want to appeal a decision or you’re simply confused about how/if certain rules apply, connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm today.

More Web Resources:

61-year-old Danbury woman SSD scam

District Court Judge Mark Kravitz

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

May 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

The answers are tricky.

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

April 26 Fox News story on SSD

Diabesity Epidemic

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

May 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Why so much attention on such a small case?

Answer is below…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

William Joseph Murphy fraud


SSD scams to watch out for

Don’t handle your North Carolina Social Security disability appeal this way…

May 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re struggling with a North Carolina Social Security disability application, here’s a clear case of what not to do…

Last February, 50-year old Louis Jerome Smith entered the Social Security Administration office in Harrisburg Mississippi and got into a lot trouble. Smith was unhappy with how administrators had been processing his claim, and he launched into a tirade. According to a report from Hattiesburgamerican.com: “Smith… threaten[ed] to assault and murder SSA employees with intent to retaliate against them for performance of their official duties.”

On April 27, Smith received a sentence in US District Court. He pled guilty to one of three counts on his indictment and got sentenced to seven months in jail and 5 months of supervised release. Prosecutors did not go after him for other charges, such as “making threats for testimony given during an official proceeding and making threats to influence a pending official proceeding.” Smith will also be required to take a psychiatric medication as a condition of his release.

On the one hand, most people will look at how Smith handled his frustrations and think “I would never behave like that for any reason, no matter what.” On the other hand, applying for North Carolina Social Security Disability can be an immensely frustrating process – emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting – and this battle can stretch over months and can be profoundly consequential for people’s lives. So obviously, you shouldn’t get angry and yell at (or, especially, threaten) SSA administrators. But if you feel frustrated or emotionally overwhelmed, that’s a very human reaction to have.

Fortunately, there are more constructive ways of managing those feelings – resourceful ways that can help you get the money you need to rebuild your life and recover your health. For instance, a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you hammer out a strategy to appeal your claim or take other actions to improve your odds of getting the results you want.

More Web Resources:

Louis Jerome Smith’s attack

Social Security Administration

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

April 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Karen Sue Morris and James Bruce Morris

Ash Flat Arkansas

Making the Most Out of Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits

April 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been fighting for the right to collect North Carolina social security disability benefits, chances are you haven’t had that much time or energy to devote to figuring out how best to invest any moneys you receive. You’re too caught up in the battles: the battle to win an appeal, the battle to deal with your underlying medical conditions; the battle to manage family needs. Etc. Etc.

A little planning, however, can go a long way.

Once you know how much money to expect from an entitlement program, your battle for financial security has only just begun. It’s crucial to figure out how to allocate any moneys that come in – and deal with any surprises (and there will be surprises, there always are).

You may be living on a shoestring budget. But it may still behoove you to speak with a professional financial planner to review your options and help you avoid burning through your benefits money.

It’s surprisingly easy to burn through benefits. When you don’t feel good, and you’re overwhelmed by medical stress, financial pressures, and anxieties, you may be tempted to “splurge” on pointless things like toys or trips that you can’t really afford.

Alternatively, you may be tempted to gamble with your North Carolina social security disability benefits – if not literally at a gaming table in a casino than maybe figuratively. You may purchase dubious investment vehicles in the hopes that they will yield up great returns. Unscrupulous con artists have devised dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different schemes designed to swindle seniors and others who rely on social security disability and supplemental security income (SSI) out of their hard fought entitlements.

Your reasons for avoiding help may be less than rational. For instance, you may balk at the upfront costs of going to a financial planner… without analyzing the costs of NOT going to a planner and continuing to spend, borrow, and plan as you currently do – that is, inefficiently.

For instance, maybe a consultation with a planner will cost you $500… but not consulting with a planner may lead you to overspend by $2,000 over the next year.

Also, you have to remember that, when you’re sick, injured, and frustrated, you may put off certain key planning tasks and then suffer penalties and fees as a result. For instance, say you’re a small business owner who needs to pay quarterly taxes. But you can’t get around to doing the paperwork because you’re ill. You may end up having to pay serious fees and penalties when you do your next year’s taxes. While a financial planner obviously can’t solve all of your woes, he or she can point out pitfalls and keep you on a better track.

Another important resource is a North Carolina social security disability law firm. A quality law firm can leverage resources to ensure that you get the right benefits and complete assistance during the appeals process.

More Web Resources:

Why to do financial planning

SSD and SSI scams

Maximizing Your North Carolina Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits: Using Food Stamps with Care

April 15, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Individuals who need North Carolina Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may qualify for food stamps. According to the official Social Security Administration pamphlet. “What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI),” a local Social Security office or a welfare or social services office can provide food stamp applications. You can also review a publication called Food Stamps and Other Nutrition Programs available through the government.

Food stamps can be vital for poor, sick, and unsupported workers. But if you’re on a very tight income, you can easily be lured into purchasing poor quality calories that can exacerbate or even cause further illness and degeneration.

The relationship between nutrition and disease is incredibly complicated. Creditable organizations like the Nutrition & Metabolism Society and the Western Price Foundation have accumulated significant and compelling scientific resources that suggest that refined carbohydrates and sugars in the diet can lead to or contribute to a surprising variety of ailments, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. These self-same foods – processed foods and sugary foods loaded with stuff like high fructose corn syrup – are often, unfortunately, the cheapest foods to buy.

Thus, if you get food stamps as part of your North Carolina Social Security Disability solution – you might be tempted to buy things like fruit punch, Coca Cola, corn chips, white rice, and products made from refined flour. Yes, these products contain calories. But they also can rapidly elevate your blood sugar (blood glucose) and spike your insulin levels – good evidence suggests that spiking your blood sugar and insulin over a long period of time can do tremendous damage to the body and make it more difficult for you to get off of Social Security Disability and get back to work and good health.

This creates a big dilemma: If the cheapest foods are bad for you, and you don’t have much money to spend, what should you do? There is no quick-fix. But you might work with a personal financial planner to try to put a little more money towards your grocery bill so you can buy high-quality foods, like fish and green vegetables. A dietician can also help you locate relatively cheap sources of good proteins and fats, such as canned tuna, instead of the usual “low cost” fare, like potato chips and loaves of white bread.

A North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you dissect and solve any problems you might have getting benefits and appealing your claim.

More Web Resources:

What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Food Stamps and Other Nutrition Programs

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

April 13, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

Reconsideration

The first step in the appeals process is called Reconsideration.

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

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

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing

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

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

The Appeals Counsel Review

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

Federal Court Action

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

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

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

More Web Resouces:

www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeals

Supplemental Security Income 101

Stresses on North Carolina Social Security Disability System Increased, Reports Wall Street Journal

April 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On Monday, the Washington Post ran a powerful story — “Claims for Social Security Benefits on the Rise” — that has many pundits within the North Carolina Social Security disability community talking up a storm. Per the March 28th WSJ article, the combination of high unemployment and the graying of the baby boomer generation has led to a massive escalation in new claims. For instance, in just five years time – from 2004 to 2009 — new claims leaped from just 8.2 million to 10 million.

The result of this escalation has been a bureaucratic slog-fest. Thanks to federal agency budget cuts and a swamp-load of new cases, appeals have been “piling up, and administrative law judges who hear these cases [have been] overwhelmed.” Although the Social Security Administration hired a raft of judges and support people to boost turnaround times for appeals – and appeals times have been shaved from a 532 day average back in 2008 to just 390 days today, the backlog of pending hearings is daunting. Currently, over 705,000 hearings are pending.

Although the Social Security Agency “pays out more than $800 billion in benefits every years to retirees, their spouses, dependants and survivors, low income disabled adults and children, and some low income World War II veterans,” according to the WashPo report, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for claimants who have pending appeals to get heard in a timely fashion.

Due to budget cuts and other problems that we just discussed, the Social Security Agency has abandoned earlier plans to open new offices in a variety of states – 8 total (although no North Carolina Social Security disability offices had been in the works).

Stories like these can make potential SSD benefit claimants and their families nervous and fearful.

Fortunately, the reality is that you can compel the system to work better for you – or at least prevent massive injustice – provided that you have good planning and resources on your side. For instance, a law firm that specializes in North Carolina Social Security disability benefits can help you outline a strategic plan to nip any logistical or legal problems in the bud, avoid common mistakes when you file, and answer FAQs you might have about the process.

Having a resourceful legal team on your side can also make you feel less anxious and uncomfortable about your benefits situation. Often, it’s not the lack of benefits that bothers people – it’s the lack of clarity about the situation. Will you or won’t you get the benefits that you think you are entitled to? As long as you live in a realm of “I don’t know,” the situation is a lot more difficult.

More Web Resources:

WashPo article: “Claims for Social Security Benefits on the Rise”

Social Security Agency

 
 

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