Topic: Uncategorized

This Bureaucratic World and Your Disability

October 13, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Getting a chance to get up to date on the happenings of the world can be a laughable dream these days.  With everything that we seem to pack into a day, if you don’t hear about it while pouring your morning coffee, making lunches or quickly grabbing a bagel you just don’t need to know it, right?  Well, as you are aware news and events continue throughout the day while we’re steadily watching the clock on our desktop creep closer and closer to 5:00.  People who do have time to stay up on current events—we call them journalists—see big events but relaying that to you and how that could parallel to your disability claim with the Social Security Administration is somewhat more tedious.

To get the heart of it, an Arizona prison is facing an ever tightening budget and sacrifices and appropriations come to the forefront of discussion in an eye-opening way.  Ultimately, prison employees have been forced to cut back on necessities while the budget for prisoner perks is adhered to in a frivolous manner.  It may sound ridiculous to those of us who work day to day just to put food on the table and clothes on the kids, but the red tape that smothers any government decision produces laughable results that leave most of us confused and frustrated.  The red tape can best be described as requirements that one government body have deemed appropriate regardless of budgetary concerns.  The other line items on the budget that are considered requirements such as the essentials for prison employees do not have the same protection.  This could be due to an assumption that is so obvious that no congress person would even consider it necessary to write into a budget.  The result, however, is a pathetic excuse for meeting a budget and the obvious consequences can be detrimental.  What does that have to do with the price of eggs in China?  Well, who knows, but it does correlate to how your disability claim may be approached with the Social Security Administration.

These same bureaucrats use a similar methodology in determining the status of your eligibility for disability benefits by “running it through the system.”  Don’t be surprised if the disability that prevents you from working and providing for your family doesn’t meet the SSA’s requirements.  What’s important is to force the Administration to see your disability in a vacuum.  This is your disability.  Your life and circumstances and you shouldn’t be compared like a piece of data to the hundreds of other people who apply in various cities in North Carolina.  If you’re having trouble with the Social Security Administration, you’re not alone.  Contact an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo and get started on the right track.  Call us at 877-333-1000 or even check out our website for more information.  Our website is www.demayolaw.com/.com.   

No Response from Social Security? Consider a Tweet.

August 30, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re curious as to why you haven’t received a response to your application for social security disability, the answer may upset you more than the actual wait time.  The Social Security Administration is the administrative agency who determines eligibility and essentially handles requests for benefits.  In recent months, however, the SSA has been getting more publicity for its attempt at TV and social media production. 

The most recent commercial involves a cat and required an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars.  Exorbitant?  Yeah—exorbitant, given the fact that the SSA has been rejecting people left and right for benefits they deserve for underlying concerns of funding.  The cat commercial is really just the icing for the cake my friends.  No matter how nauseating or gut wrenching the idea of a cat commercial may be, the attempts at social media may be more disgusting.  There has even been speculation about particular groups who are paid to send out messages and blurbs on behalf of the Social Security Administration at an attempt to ramp up support and confidence. 

Bottom Line.  Are these really the people you want deciding if your medical disability meets their definition?  If you have applied or are considering applying for social security disability benefits in North Carolina don’t leave it to chance.  Call the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo at 877-333-1000 for a free case evaluation. 

When I Have No More Appeals…

August 18, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Prior to speaking with an attorney about your application for social security disability people apply, get denied and work tirelessly retrying while exhausting the limited number of possible appeals. Depending on where an applicant is in the process, it is important to understand that you may still be entitled to an appeal in a federal court.

I can assure you, if your continued pursuits of a different decision have proven fruitless, you certainly do not want to request that a federal district court hear your case without being represented by an attorney. It is easy to discredit the importance of an attorney during your appeal process—until it’s too late; however, you only get so many chances.

You may think that an attorney won’t know as much about your medical condition and disability as you do and you’re probably right. The value that a social security disability attorney can add is understanding what information is pertinent and relevant at given times and which information could hurt you. Additionally, like all areas of the law, half the battle is complying with procedure.

The procedural aspect of your social security disability claim can prevent your eligibility as easily as the substantive part of your case. If you’re benefits are that important to your livelihood, don’t leave it up to chance. Qualifying for disability, is not about gambling, like a good afternoon of playin’ the ponies, it’s your livelihood.

If you have considered applying for social security disability contact the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo today. We are experienced in helping people in North Carolina get the benefits they deserve. Our number is 877-333-1000. Or you can request a free case evaluation on our website at www.demayolaw.com.

The Power of the Details

August 11, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

When a mental illness prevents you from living your life and doing things you previously enjoyed then you are familiar with one of the most difficult aspects of being effected by a mental illness. People are quick to cast doubt upon a debilitating illness that cannot be seen as readily as a physical illness. For many people who have been denied Social Security Disability this is an unfortunate reality.

For anybody who is applying for SSD meticulous medical records can make or break your case. It’s easier said than done, but you have to keep your doctor completely informed on everything that is happening in your life. Some people find it easy to carry a journal and document their injuries, pains and other parts of your life that are the result of your disability.

I have even heard of people who review old text messages to understand how they felt on a particular day and what caused that. Old messages explain why you slept late, couldn’t sleep, didn’t get to church and so many reminders of how we felt on a particular day. Regardless of how you record your daily feelings, both mental and physical, it is crucial for your doctor to extensively evaluate your medical condition. The more medical information you have, the better your attorney will be prepared to handle your disability claim in North Carolina.

If you have considered applying for social security disability, call the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo at 877-333-1000 today.

FDA Panel Sees “Little Use” for MOM Hip Replacements, Asks for Long Term Studies of Dangers

July 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Metal on metal (MOM) hip replacement devices are in the news again. An FDA panel that convened on June 27-28 concluded that they see few, if any reasons, to use these devices. According to the panel’s chair, Dr. William Rohr of Mencocino Coast District Hospital, “I do not use metal-on-metal hips, and I can see no reason to do so.”

Evidence continues to mount showing that these implants break down much earlier than other types of artificial hips they were intended to improve upon. Even more alarming, they also deteriorate, exposing patients to potentially hazardous levels of cobalt, chromium and other metals in the blood. Because of the danger of this metal toxicity, guidelines have been proposed for patients who have already received MOM hip replacements.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina defective hip replacement lawyers noted that the FDA has not yet mentioned taking these devices out of use. This is surprising, considering the multitude of recalls, the 17,000 reports to the FDA about problems caused by these devices, the thousands of lawsuits filed by victims of these implants and their panel’s own findings.

What does this mean to you, if you already have a MOM hip replacement?

We urge you to take this matter very seriously. If you are experiencing pain or inflammation in the hip, please see your doctor immediately for an X-ray as well as blood tests to determine the level of metals in your blood. The pain may be caused by metal particles which have ground off the implant and seeped into the joint. This can damage the surrounding tissue and the bone itself. If your doctor finds that the implant is breaking down too quickly or your health is being endangered by it, we recommend consulting a qualified defective hip implant attorney.

If you have a MOM hip replacement, the FDA panel recommends a yearly X-ray to monitor your situation, whether you are experiencing pain or not. However, this recommendation is weaker than others put in place overseas, such as in the United Kingdom, where regulators also recommend yearly blood tests to check for the presence of dangerous metal toxicity.

The ramifications of elevated metal in the bloodstream over long periods of time are as yet unknown, although preliminary studies suggest there may be links to various neurological problems and heart issues.

The FDA panel pointed out a couple of disturbing facts. There are problems with determining the levels of dangerous metals from common blood tests, and interpreting the results is not cut and dried. No standardized diagnostic kits even exist to test for levels of chromium.

The FDA has asked hip implant manufacturers to conduct long-term, follow-up studies of the over one hundred different MOM hips currently available. They are hoping the studies will provide answers to some important questions, including the effects on the human body of these metal particles. Obviously, a long term study could take a decade or more, leaving many patients at unnecessary risk.

If you have had an MOM hip replacement failure, or are experiencing other complications, we urge you to immediately seek expert medical help and legal help as well. Please contact our North Carolina hip implant law firm today. We provide free case evaluations to individuals experiencing complications from a DePuy or other MOM device.

Are the Stories You’re Telling Yourself about Your Charlotte Social Security Disability Quest Accurate?

July 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In our last blog post, we talked about how the stories we tell ourselves about our Charlotte Social Security Disability journey can have a monumental impact — not only on our ability to get the benefits that we want but also on our general happiness and satisfaction with our outcome.

We highlighted why it’s so important to surface these subconscious stories and talked a bit about how negative, inaccurate thinking can influence our actions in the wrong direction. Bogus and overly pessimistic thinking can lead us to take desperate measures, choose the wrong people or companies that help us, etc.

But once you know the various stories that you are telling yourself, what’s the next step?

The next step is pretty clear: determine whether your stories are true! Odds are, many of the stories you have been telling yourself have kernels of truth, but they likely also include catastrophic or overly grandiose ideas.

For instance, you might have thoughts like “the system is going to screw me over.” Yes, the system can be unfair and difficult. But if you get good help from a seasoned Charlotte Social Security Disability law firm, like DeMayo Law, for instance, you can reduce the potential for unfairness. The catch is, you won’t likely take action towards retaining a good law firm if you believe the situation is hopeless!

It’s a good idea to go through each one of your stories and to assess it logically and objectively.

Get help from outside, objective sources, if possible. For instance, show your list to a family member or a friend you trust: get his or her take. If you have a law firm at your disposal, ask that team to vet your stories.

Once you have some realistic assessments, document them!

Ideally, you want a single sheet that lists all the subconscious stories that you tell yourself and also lists the “antidotes” to your inaccurate thinking. It’s very important to write this stuff down, since the brain has a funny way of playing with our perceptions.

One final point: once you have these answers written down, you need to review the document on a fairly regular basis – once a week or even once a day, if you’re really stressed out.

Over time, as you go through this process again and again – and it should be an iterative process, not just a “one-time thing” – you will find that you will develop new stories, as old stories phase out. Make a concerted effort over time to think realistically, and you will ultimately feel more and more in control of your situation and your life – irrespective of how your battle for benefits goes. And that’s the really exciting part! By becoming a more accurate thinker, you will feel less and less at the mercy of outside forces, like an insurance company or an administrative law judge.

Social Security Disability is Big Business in North Carolina

July 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to official tallies, over 310,000 people received Social Security Disability in North Carolina last year.

All told, the Federal Government’s Social Security system pumped in over $22 billion into our economy and provided over 50% of the income to all North Carolinians aged 65 and older. Recent Census Bureau figures found that 8,733,461 workers collected (or will collect) federal disability in June – nearly 500,000 more people than the total population of New York City, the biggest city in the US, which boasted only 8,244,910 residents, according to last year’s Census Bureau estimates.

With so many people getting benefits — and so many more in desperate need of North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits – it’s understandable why the policy debate over entitlement reform often gets so fierce and emotional.

There is a lot at stake for a lot of people!

Unfortunately, the debate is incredibly complicated, and the economic theories that underlie the Social Security Disability program are at once sophisticated and by no means settled. In other words, the theories about why SSD and Supplemental Security Income works — and what can be done to improve the system and make it more fair — are still theories, susceptible to disproof.

What does this all means for you?

You are sick or injured – and suddenly facing massive financial pressures as well as a scary and vexing medical prognosis. You are almost certainly operating in something of a vacuum. And you almost certainly will end up relying on the judgments of others who have either studied the system directly or studied it indirectly by studying those who study it. (That’s a mouthful!)

The bottom line is that you’re dealing with major uncertainties in many aspects of your life, health, and beyond. To the degree that you can find reliable, trustworthy resources may be the degree to which you ultimately succeed.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you untangle some of the chaos and explain your rights and responsibilities in clear, easy to understand language, so that you make informed, empowered decisions and regain control over your destiny.

How to Stretch Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits

June 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re in a tooth and nail fight for Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina; or you’re just beginning to investigate your options for how to protect your nest egg in the wake of a injury or scary medical diagnosis, you need to prioritize getting your financial situation under control. Many beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) make a grievous mistake here, however. They focus extensively and almost exclusively on getting benefits… without really looking at how those benefits might interplay with the rest of their financial plans.

By analyzing your budget/financial situation carefully, you’ll almost certainly find inefficiencies — places where improvements can help you stretch the value of your income. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo has a lot of experience helping people like you, who are struggling to collect Social Security Disability benefits in Charlotte and elsewhere. We can provide a free consultation about how you might best proceed – and give you other resources to get going on your quest.

In the meantime, consider these practical tips about how to slash your budget/boost your income while you are in this tender state, where you don’t have a lot of money to spend, and you don’t have a lot of energy/time to earn:

    Cut out “unnutritious” foods from your diet. For instance, stop buying soda, potato chips, desserts, etc and focus on real, nutritious foods like healthy meats and fruits and vegetables. You will save more, eat better, and hopefully enjoy the nourishing benefits that come with eliminating junk.

•    Speak to a professional financial consultant. Yes, you probably will have to pay money for the help. But if you find a good person, that person should be able to save you more money over the long-term than you will pay out for the consultation. If not, you haven’t found the right person!

•    Assess stuff that “really sticks out” such as a high heating bill, high cable bill, or whatever. Ask yourself whether you really need that service. If not, cut it. If so, brainstorm ways to get the price down. For instance, you might want to ask your cell provider if you can get a loyalty discount.

•    Remember: what gets measured gets managed. If you notice a recurring, annoying expense – such as your electricity or gas bill – measure that number on a weekly or monthly basis and strive to get it down. You don’t have to get it down instantly. Incremental progress is still good. But MEASURE.

•    Be realistic about both your options and your opportunities. Yes, it would be nice if you could find a job that paid just as well as your old job. But that may not be possible. Accept reality as the new starting point and then go from there.

•    Remember: this is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. Even if a sudden accident threw you off your game and created these sudden financial stresses, the road back to good physical and financial health may not be swift. Accept that. Strive for incremental progress. Small positive goals, regularly achieved, will make you feel better and help you feel like you’re making progress towards a better life.

Attorney Michael A. DeMayo Interviewed about Increase in Nursing Home Negligence

June 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you might be interested in a video interview with Charlotte personal injury attorney Michael A. DeMayo, conducted by StateLawTV. In the video, DeMayo addresses the appropriate course of action if someone suspects a parent or other family member is being neglected or abused in a nursing home.

Nursing home negligence seems to be appearing more and more frequently in the nightly news, leaving families of nursing facilities wondering about their loved ones. Of course, the reason that most individuals wind up in nursing homes is because they can no longer properly take care of themselves. To be taken advantage of, neglected or even actively abused by the very people who are hired to care for them is extremely distressing.

At the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, they are seeing more cases of nursing home mistreatment. This has become a common occurrence in this day and age many care facilities, whether private or state run, are understaffed and simply cannot provide adequate care or supervision. Many residents of nursing facilities are left in the terrible position of being unable to help themselves or sometimes even inform family members of what’s happening.

Falls are one of the most common injuries that occur in nursing homes, along with bedsores resulting from a resident not being turned in the bed frequently enough. DeMayo law has even represented clients in cases where the neglect or abuse resulted in severe brain injury or even death.

When asked what course of action a family member should take if they suspect a loved one is being neglected or abused in a care facility, Michael DeMayo suggests immediately going in and speaking with the director of the facility, along with some of the care staff to try and find out what is going on. If the level of injury or abuse is blatant, he suggests moving the resident to a different facility, and perhaps even going so far as to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer.

When asked why a family might hire a personal injury lawyer even after they have moved their relative to a different facility, DeMayo explains that it’s not just to stop the abuse of one individual but to also put an end to what is occurring in this particular facility. If a loved one has suffered injuries or gross negligence, there is a potential cause of action that can be brought on behalf of the individual or of the family, if it turns out to be a case of wrongful death.

Says Michael DeMayo, “Speaking as someone who has a family member in a nursing home, if I ever get report or any inkling of neglect I would move him first. Second, I’d take it up immediately with the director of the nursing home.”

Click here to listen to this important and informative video interview with Michael A. DeMayo and Cindy Speaker of StateLawTV.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Challenge – Seeing All Events as Opportunities

November 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Let’s face facts. Having to go on North Carolina social security disability is no fun.

You would probably much prefer to be back at your job and engaged in productive, creative work, instead of at home or in a hospital or other recovery center battling a scary illness or recovering from a chronic, tormenting injury.

Moreover, once you get hurt or sick, your challenges don’t end. They only seem to ratchet up. The “business of life” doesn’t just go away when you get sick or hurt. Indeed, it’s easy for things to get far more out of control than they used to be – and, chances are, your life was already somewhat out of order and in chaos before the event or illness hit you.

It’s easy to descend into a downward spiral and pessimistic mentality. And what’s so tragic about this pessimistic mindset is that it perpetuates itself. Once you begin to think about yourself as a victim — “someone who is sick or ill” — your brain literally believes it, and it will even filter out contrary information and reinterpret it to support your negative mindset. As we have discussed in previous posts on this North Carolina social security disability blog, “unplugging” from this pessimistic mentality is a challenging, ongoing process.

Here is a tactic to put in your toolbox – to help you think optimistically and proactively about your challenges. The tactic is simple: View every problem or setback as an opportunity.

Easier said than done, right?

We’ve all heard that the Chinese symbol for danger is the same symbol for opportunity. When events happen, whether they’re positive events or “setbacks,” we can perceive them any way we want. Events are simply transitions. Nothing is static. Even though you may feel “stuck” in your current situation; that belief, in some sense, is an illusion of the mind and of perception.

Let’s ground that in a practical example. Say you prepare for your Administrative Law Judge hearing. The day before the hearing, your doctor calls with unpleasant news about your prognosis. You go into a downward spiral. The next day, you lack the energy, self-regard, and “fighting spirit” to present your case to the ALJ, and the path to benefits becomes even more elusive.

Instead of taking the phone call from your doctor as a purely negative thing, you could have seen it as an opportunity to raise your game and be more assertive. Then when you go before the ALJ, you will put up a vigorous, passionate plea for assistance. In other words, you turn what on the surface was purely bad news into something that helps you – in this case fuel for your rhetorical fire.

Arm yourself with good information and good help by connecting with a reputable North Carolina social security disability firm.

More Web Resources:

Preparing for Your ALJ Hearing

The Danger/Opportunity Duality

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

November 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Separating Observation from Feelings

Non-violent Communication

Can Overdependence on North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits Shorten Your Life?

November 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability benefits provide life-giving (in many cases, life-saving) resources to help sick and injured citizens.

Benefits help the poor and injured put food on the table, live safely, and even enjoy the occasional indulgence. However, some research from the social sciences suggests that overdependence on government programs or other programs – coupled with a lack of self-directed, creative activity – can wear people out, reduce immune function, and possibly even hasten the progress of an illness.

Human beings, in other words, thrive once they are given agency over their problems – even if that agency is not complete.

Consider, for instance, a famous study that looked at senior citizens in a nursing home. A group of seniors was given a plant and instructed to water that plant twice a week. Another group of seniors was given the same plant, but someone from the nursing home watered the plant for them.

You might think that this was a trivial distinction. However, the results showed something extraordinary. The people who had the responsibility to water the plant (who could not count on someone else do it) showed a statistically significant amount of “thriving” compared to the control group. The effects of the experiment were so significant that experimenters discontinued it for fear of putting members in the control group at higher risk for death and disease.

In other words, the injection of a little bit of responsibility can make a world of difference, even to someone who is sick, depressed, injured, and without many resources.

What does this mean for North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries and their family members?

Extrapolating from this research, one might conclude that all beneficiaries – no matter how dependent on the generosity of others – should be offered opportunities to manage responsibilities and control aspects of their own fate. When SSD beneficiaries take responsibility, not only do they alleviate some burden on caregivers, but they also improve their own prognosis. In business literature, this is described as a classic “win-win.”

For help with an SSD benefits question, connect with a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Does adding a plant to a nursing home make a difference?

Why responsibility matters

Key to Riding the North Carolina Social Security Disability Rollercoaster: Expecting the Unexpected

November 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps your elderly mother recently received a disturbing diagnosis, and you want to help her secure North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits to pay for crucial costs, including living expenses. Or maybe you are a hurt, sick, or injured worker who is desperate to stabilize your finances, provide for your family, and resolve your medical crisis. In either case, your thinking is likely off-kilter, and you may be hoping for something that simply does not exist: a sure-fire, one-time solution to resolve your pain and simplify your life planning.

While North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits can be quite a boon to people who are cash-and resource-strapped, even the most generous benefits package won’t erase unexpected and surprising events. In fact, in retrospect, consider the circumstances or events that led to your illness or injury. Did you ever expect to be in this position? Probably not.

As the inimitable Alanis Morissette eloquently (if not so accurately) described in her hit song from late 1990s, “Ironic,” “life has a funny way of sneaking up on you…life has a funny way of helping you out.”

In other words, surprising events are always just around the corner. It’s not just pop singers who make this argument. Indeed, internationally respected productivity guru David Allen described in his bestselling book Ready for Anything that most individuals will receive a radical, game-changing surprise at least once a month. We can speculate on whether out of the blue events – serendipities and catastrophes – occur on some kind of regular cycle or not. However, chances are, these “black swan and white swan” events – those that drive our lives in unanticipated directions – probably happen far more than we recognize.

How does this all tie back to your quest for Social Security Disability? It ties back because it suggests that beneficiaries need to prepare for the unexpected. It’s not enough to obtain a certain monthly stipend and expect the rest of your problems to go away. You need planning, vigilance, discipline, and help.

For instance, as you develop your relationship with your North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm, plan to leverage that relationship over the long-term. In other words, the legal team you retain should help not just with the immediate and urgent questions about your case. They should also introduce you to additional resources to help you improve your finances and get your life back on track.

More Web Resources:

David Allen’s Ready for Anything

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you…life has a funny way of helping you out.

Avoiding the “Scam Me” Mentality: a Primer for Potential North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

November 14, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Individuals who desperately need North Carolina Social Security Disability (and possibly supplemental security income) often struggle not only with financial and medical problems but also with emotional problems, such as isolation, negative self-talk, addictions, and hosts of other troubles. North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) are vulnerable. They are vulnerable to self-sabotage. They are vulnerable to exploitation. And they are vulnerable to scam artists.

In your physically and morally weakened state, for instance, you might take leave of your commonsense and invest a significant portion of your remaining savings with a dubious company or annuity salesman in the hopes of winning a “big pay day.” Alternatively, you might become so sick or incapacitated that you no longer can defend yourself against con artists, who might take advantage of your incapacitated state by stealing your Social Security Number or other confidential information, siphoning your Medicaid or Medicare benefits, or committing other crimes that leave you even more vulnerable and exposed.

So how do you escape this “scam me” mentality? How can you protect yourself against con artists?

The common answer is that vulnerable individuals need to educate themselves and get protection. You can follow the link at the bottom of this post to read up on some common scams to gird yourself appropriately. However, good education is no substitute for a successful, long-term defensive posture. Con artists may “change their games” routinely. So even if you memorize every common scam out there, you still run the risk of getting conned through some unknown or undocumented scam.

A longer-term, more robust solution would be to set up systems and processes in your life and assemble resources to protect you from scams you can’t even see coming. For instance, you might want to research identity theft protection services, or you may even want to talk a trusted North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm about local or regional resources you can tap into to shield your assets.

At the very least, it’s worth your while to research the nuts and bolts of scam protection. Alternatively, if you are too sick or injured, deputize someone you trust, such as a close relative, to help you do this mission-critical research, so you avoid getting caught flat footed.

More Web Resources:

Common scams perpetrated on the elderly and the sick


Good article on scam protection

Don’t Let the North Carolina Social Security Disability Experience Strip You of Your Confidence

November 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Ever since you went on North Carolina social security disability (or initiated the process of exploring the possibility of doing so), you probably endured something of a struggle with your self-esteem. For most of your life, you thought of yourself as someone who could “work hard” and recover from anything. Unfortunately, due to your medical circumstances, you now need more help than you once did. You might be confused and overwhelmed by your medical options, unsure whom to trust or even how to begin researching.

So, first of all, appreciate that multiple things have thrown you off-balance. When you get sick or injured, you must attend the urgent medical crises in your life. But other, indirect crises could “sprout up” all around your life as indirect results of the primary medical crises.

Let’s give an example so that you understand that in more plain language.

Let’s say that you contracted a rare bone disease, and you now need at least 12 to 18 months off of work to recover from multiple courses of medication and surgery. On top of the medical crises you face, you and your family also face an ongoing financial squeeze. You won’t be bringing in as much income as you once did. Even if you do manage to collect North Carolina social security disability benefits, those benefits won’t make up for all the money you are missing out on.

But it’s not just the financial stress that really gets you. It’s the emotional, logistical, and intangible factors that degrade not only your real world assets, such as your bank account, but also your psychic assets, such as your self-confidence and self-esteem. This is dangerous because, if you allow negative thinking to become habitual, you may find it harder to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and get your life organized and recalibrated.

To staunch the damage, you need to find help from compassionate, experienced outside resources. A reputable North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help. But good legal assistance is just the beginning of your mission to obtain the health and support you need.

More Web Resources:

The Dangers of Negative Self-Talk.

Crises are Dynamic.

Finding the Light at the End of the Tunnel: Is There Any Real Hope for People on North Carolina Social Security Disability?

November 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a current or prospective North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiary, odds are you are feeling somewhat pessimistic not only about your life and health, but also about the general direction of our state and our national economy.

Just tuning into cable news these days can be depressing in and of itself – and that’s without layering on all of the “psychic baggage” you bring to the table as someone who is hurt, sick, or both. The global, national, and state economies are sputtering. You are worried about how you are going to support yourself and your family, and you are probably constantly overwhelmed by bad news, catastrophic headlines, and self-doubt.

Digging out from all of the psychic rubble is no small task, and no single blog post can eradicate the challenges or lift all that weight off your shoulders. Even if you do retain a reputable, effective North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to help you, you will still have a lot of “heavy lifting” ahead of you.

How, within this context, can you maintain optimism, focus, and ensure progress?

Again, there is no “sliver bullet” solution. But don’t ever expect someone to hand you the answer, either. If they try, chances are they are trying to sell you something or possibly even scam you. Self-development is an incremental, challenging process. It is possible, however, to make more progress than many social security disability beneficiaries realize, both in terms of dealing with your financial stresses and feeling better both physically and emotionally.

Here are some principles to keep in mind:

• Avoid getting too caught up in the lows or too carried away with the highs. Moderate your expectations, and steer the middle path.

• Get help. Depending on your perspective, even if you are located remotely, you can find tons of free, compassionate help from good-hearted people online. Again, beware of people who are trying to sell you things or scam you. Most people aren’t, fortunately, and communities abound to help people struggling with practically every problem out there.

• Your perspective on your problems can be hugely influential. If you think that your SSD crisis will be the end of you, then it very well might be. But if you view the challenges in front of you as opportunities instead of merely as depressing items, you may find that you achieve more progress and enjoy the journey more.

More Web Resources:

It All Depends on How You Look at It.

Gaining Control and Perspective

Tragic North Carolina Car Accident Claims Life of a Child on Go-Kart

November 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Tuesday, 6-year-old boy from Duplin County was killed in a horrific North Carolina car accident on NC-111 in Chinquapin. The AP reports that the fatal North Carolina car accident occurred around 4 PM. According to the news report: “authorities’ said the boy was riding beside his older brother, who was driving a four-wheeler…the boy apparently didn’t see the oncoming vehicle and pulled out into the road.” http://www.northcarolinainjurylawyerblog.com/cgi-bin/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&id=119145&blog_id=423

According to a local station, WITN, the 6-year-old, who attended Chinquapin Elementary School, was hit by the secretary of his school.

This horrendous tragedy strikes an emotional chord in anyone who has cared for young children. In many ways, this is every parent’s worst fear come true, and we can only hope that the family of the boy receives compassion, empathetic attention, and good healing.

Can the North Carolina car accident prevention community draw any lessons from this sad case?

Without probing into the details of what happened, it’s difficult to extrapolate. However, the report does highlight, once again, how tragedies can happen even under close adult scrutiny. Young children are constantly testing the limits of their physical environment, and they may not be fully aware of the risks inherent in their activities until too late.

While caretakers can (and probably should) do more to monitor children’s behavior and erect safe, protective areas for kids to play (without serious consequences), there are only so many strategies and tactics you can deploy to protect yourself against the chaos of life.

All that said, if you or someone your care about has been hurt in a North Carolina car accident, you may be able to avail yourself of powerful resources to get compensation for injuries, medical care, and more. A respectable and experienced North Carolina car crash law firm can help you understand your rights and what to do next.

More Web Resources:

6-year-old boy dies in a go-kart crash

Go-kart tragedy in Chinquapin

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

November 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

Score one for the baby!

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Senator Coburn loses to adult baby in fight over SSD benefits

Is 2018 "Armageddon" for North Carolina Social Security Disability?

October 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As if North Carolinians did not have enough problems on their minds with the specter of a second “great recession” on the near horizon, recent figures suggest that the social security disability insurance program (which serves North Carolina and the other states) is running out of money…and fast.

According to a recent article in the McClatchy Newspaper, Disability Benefits Program On Unsustainable Financial Path: “at the current growth rate, the SSDI trust fund, which pays for benefits, won’t have enough money to meet its obligations in 2018.”

Observers point to an array of statistics to show the program’s dire straits. For instance, back in 1990, only 3 million recipients took money from the program. In September 2011, by contrast, 8.7 million injured workers collected more than $1,000 a month from the program. Critics of SSD also point to facts such as this one: “among new [beneficiaries] in 2010, more than half cited back pain or mental problems, like depression or mood disorders, as the disabling injury, compared with just 26% of such claims in 1965.”

Critics will admit that other problems may be draining the system and causing SSDI to “burn money” faster and faster – problems like the graying of the baby-boomer generation and an anemic economy. One key underlying message of the critics, however, is that hurt and injured people themselves are to blame for their medical straits.

Critics suggest that Americans are not planning effectively. They are becoming more and more dependent on the system to provide sustenance and protection. This story is so vivid and so widely accepted among many North Carolina social security disability critics that it is difficult to begin to talk about the fundamental problems from the context of a different paradigm.

But a different paradigm may be in fact just what we need.

In fact, in recent best selling books like Protein Power, Wheat Belly, and Why We Get Fat, journalists and doctors have powerfully argued that changes to our national dietary habits may have indirectly caused incredible stresses on our benefits programs, including SSD. Americans started to consume an unhealthy diet full of processed refined carbohydrates and wheat products and sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup. As a result of these unhealthy eating habits – pushed in part by an institutional edifice that feared fat more than sugar – Americans are now suffering crippling rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. And these diseases – indirectly caused by bad nutritional advice – are at the root of at least some of the current benefits program problems.

Of course, there is always a possibility that these nutritional critics are wrong. But if they are correct, or at least partially correct, then the logic of their findings suggests that the problem does not necessarily lie with a weak willed or over-entitled populous but rather with a misled populous.

Interesting food for thought, at least.

For help with the specific case, connect with a North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Wheat Belly

The impact of sugar on our healthcare crisis

Productivity after North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 28, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Is this a fair assessment?

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

Might there be other explanations?

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

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

In other words, we need to ask:

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The graying of the baby-boomer generation

The American over medication epidemic.

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

October 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Surprised to hear that?

Consider this line of argument:

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Science of Satisfaction

Is your problem really “the problem”?

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

October 22, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

New York City Horse Traffic Problem

Paradigm Shifts Tend to be “Bolts From The Blue”

A Primer for North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries: Cataloging Your Needs

October 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post on the trials and tribulations of North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries, we discussed how “prideful” SSD applicants often make self-destructive decisions because they desperately want to regain control over their lives. In these situations, they are willing to sacrifice resources – to reject the help of friends and family members – to preserve autonomy.

What other “unmet needs” might be causing you distress?

As a North Carolina social security disability beneficiary (or would-be beneficiary), you likely face a “full house” of emotions. If you analyze these emotions and looked at the fundamental needs behind them, you might be surprised at the progress that you can make. Here is a short hand for some feeling/need combos:

Example #1

• Stimulus: ALJ hearing gets postponed, surprisingly.

• Feeling: Anger, frustration, annoyance.

• Underlying need not met: Clarity and resolution about the uncertainties created by the case.

Example #2

• Stimulus: An acquaintance says something to the effect of “social security beneficiaries are all lazy freeloaders.”

• Emotional reaction: Anger, humiliation.

• Underlying need not met: Respect and to feel like you are contributing to society in a positive way.

Example #3

• Stimulus: A great conversation with the representative of a North Carolina social security disability law firm, where you get many frustrating, urgent, confusing questions answered in plain language.

• Emotional response: Joy, relief, calm, possibly elation.

• Needs met: Empathy, clarity, and need for outside help from competent outside sources.

More web resources:

Understanding the Role of Feelings and Needs In Your Life

Why Certain Feelings Might Indicate Hidden Needs That You are Not Aware Of

The "Pride Problem" and North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More web resources:

The Need for Help

The Need for Autonomy

Leveraging Parkinson’s Law to Make Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Journey Easier

October 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries often struggle with time pressure.

Although you may not be working or actively engaged in exhausting activities like child care, caregiving for others, running a business, et cetera, you still face many pressures – pressures to recover, pressures to deal with difficult financial situations on a shoestring budget, pressures to manage your emotional and logistical crises, and pressures to deal with an often uncaring social security disability bureaucracy.

Given all your serious constraints, you would like to find a way to get more done faster… without compromising your care or rehab or sanity.

Enter Parkinson’s Law.

Simply stated, Parkinson’s Law is a truism about work: work fills up the volume of time you allot for it. If you give yourself eight hours to do a project, you will complete the project in roughly eight hours. If you give yourself four hours to do a project, you can probably get it done within four hours. If you give yourself 16 hours to do a project, it will take you 16 hours to do it. And so forth. Obviously, Parkinson’s Law is not the same kind of “law” as the law of gravity or anything like that. Rather, it’s a nice heuristic or rule of thumb that North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries can use to make some serious inroads into their problems.

Here is an example. Say you need a rehab specialist to help you fix myofascial pain in your extremities. You could spend a week or two weeks or even longer researching various practitioners, weighing their strengths and weaknesses, scheduling free visits, et cetera. Or you could give yourself a “drop dead time limit” to make your decision. Maybe you give yourself three or four days. You might intuit that you’d make a better decision if you take the full amount of time – the two to three weeks that you would normally take. But Parkinson’s Law tells you that you wouldn’t gain any tangible advantages.

In other words, you would have essentially the same rehab experience… whether you took three weeks to find a practitioner or took three days to find one. Parkinson’s Law is not a license to be sloppy or to lower your standards. Instead, it’s a tool to help you avoid open ended searches and to make better use of your time.

Of course, there are certain aspects of your SSD struggle that you can’t handle on your own. A reputable North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you figure out what you need to do, how to do it, and how to optimize your resources and minimize your mistakes.

More Web Resources:

Parkinson’s Law Explained

Leveraging Parkinson’s Law to Get More Done in Less Time

Social Networking Salvation for North Carolina Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

October 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Perhaps.

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources

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

Dangers of “too much” social media

The 80/20 Principle: A Golden Resource for People on North Carolina Social Security Disability

October 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are on North Carolina Social Security Disability, chances are that you are on a tight budget. You are trying to scrimp and save. You are carefully investing the assets that you retain. Whether you are just beginning the process of applying for North Carolina Social Security Disability or you’ve managed to transit through the process successfully and get entitlements to help you make ends meet, you are still coping with how to tie your life together with your shoestring budget.

The 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle) Can Help

Budgeting your time, money, and energy is all about making the right trade-offs.

What inputs can you put into your life (or any system) that will lead to maximum results? And what inputs are yielding subpar results? Surprisingly, there are always imbalances is life. Certain things you do – stocks you pick, friends you cultivate, subtle decisions you make about your North Carolina Social Security Disability application – can lead to outsized results, both positive and negative.

You can put enormous effort into certain endeavors and get ultimately very little out of all that effort. 80% of your efforts will only lead to 20% of your results on any given task. On the flip side, 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your results. This imbalance is at play in everything you do: 80/20 applies to the clothes you wear, the foods you typically eat, the people you hang out with, and how you budget your time and money.

So how do you apply the Pareto Principle to budget on a shoestring?

The answer is to identify what inputs are yielding you “outsized results” and what inputs are yielding “undersized results.” Then make changes to focus more time/attention/money on the 20% that yields 80% of your payoffs. For instance, take a look at your grocery bill. According to the Pareto Principle, approximately 20% of the things you buy will give you 80% of your nutrition. Conversely, 80% of what you buy from the grocery store will only give you 20% of the nutrients your body needs.

So what’s the irrelevant stuff? What stuff can you stop buying and still maintain a healthy lifestyle? Thinking along those lines, you might start cutting out the so-called “empty calories” like soda pop, sugary desserts, and processed snacks, chips, and breads, and instead focus on the “20% products” that do give you good nutrition: meat, vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, etc.

80/20 can, at least in theory, help you spend less on your food and extract the same amount of nourishment.

Be creative. Apply the 80/20 principle to purge your time and money budgets. Use it to identify what gets you outsized results and what gets you undersized results.

Connect with a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More web resources:

The 80/20 Principle Defined

Applying the Pareto Principle to Your Home Budget

Do You Really Believe You Deserve North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits?

October 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On paper, you could really use North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits.

Whether you are suffering from a long-term illness that will keep you out of work for at least a year or longer, or you suffered an injury or other medical setback, you lack long-term security. You face annoying medical costs. And you may even be wrestling with emotional demons that are part and parcel of the North Carolina Social Security Disability struggle.

And although you may face logistical, financial, and other concerns, it’s the emotional ones that really rock your boat. The frustration, depression, self-blame, doubt, anxiety, panic, etc.

When you ruminate over the frustrating turns that your life has taken, you can get mired in a mindset that’s less-than-conducive to best results. Specifically, you might come to believe that you in some way karmically “deserve” your misfortune. You may not consciously say, “I brought this on myself.” But you might start to think in those terms, on a deep, inaccessible, subconscious level. And when we start to think that we don’t deserve things in life – social security disability benefits, for instance – we may engage in acts of subtle self-subterfuge.

For instance, instead of putting up a fight at an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, you may resign yourself to not getting the benefits that you want… before you even enter the courtroom. This defeated posture results in subtle but damaging effects to your ability to actually get the money and help you need. On the other hand, if you go into an ALJ hearing – or engage in some other way with the SSD bureaucracy or system – with your head held high and the right attitude, that confidence and moxie can subtly lead to good results.

This isn’t to say that you should be unrealistic or break the rules or that somehow a shift in attitude is going to solve all your problems. But attitude has a non-negligible effect.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do all the legwork and fighting on your own. A competent North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you achieve good results and make sure that you follow best practices.

More Web Resources:

How Your Mindset Affects Your Outcome

How to Impress the Judge

Strength Training for North Carolina Social Security Disability Success

September 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

What’s the best kind of exercise for someone who is out sick on North Carolina Social Security Disability?

This seems like a pretty simple question, but you might be surprised by the complexity loaded into the answer.

Most people tend to think of exercise in a broad, somewhat undifferentiated way. It’s something that we do to “get in shape” or to “lose excess flab” or to “feel better.” We tend to think that any old exercise will do, as long as it gets our heart rates up, stretches us out, builds a little muscle, and doesn’t overwork us or harm us in the process.

Along those lines of thinking, Tai-Bo equals running at the gym equals walking around the neighborhood with friends equals swimming laps at your local pool equals weight lifting, etc.

This mindset, however, may actually significantly oversimplify the problem. Specifically, emergent research in exercise physiology suggests that most people — including hardcore “gym rats” as well as regular work-a-day folks who are out on North Carolina Social Security Disability — may be dramatically underestimating the importance of strength training and overestimating the importance of so-called cardiovascular exercise or aerobics.

Again, not to get too controversial here, but the strength training element of exercise may be more important than the “cardio” element – perhaps, vastly so. New York City strength trainer, Fred Hahn – who runs a blog at www.seriousstrength.com – likes to talk about how muscle weakness may contribute to problems that we normally associate with a lack of cardiovascular training.

For instance, imagine you are a diabetic, 220 lbs. woman who is on Social Security Disability because of advanced complications due to your diabetes. You get winded every time you walk up the stairs of your apartment. You might think that you are getting winded because you are “out of shape.” And then you might go to the gym to run a few times a week to “build up your endurance.” You do that regimen for a few weeks. Lo and behold, getting up the stairs gets easier and easier. But, Hahn would argue, you are having an easier time not because you built up your heart and lungs through running, but because you’ve strengthened your legs so that your leg muscles have an easier time getting up the stairs. The cause and effect is reversed.

If you go by Hahn’s logic, one of the master keys to success with any kind of exercise or training program is building muscular strength in a safe and effective and manner – ideally overseen by a trainer or doctor, particularly if you have an illness or an injury.

Of course, SSD beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) need more help than simple strength training exercises. They often have legions of legal and logistical questions. To that end, you might want to connect with a qualified North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More web resources:

Fred Hahn’s Serious Strength Blog


Which is Better: Strength training or cardio?

Leveraging Parkinson’s Law to Make Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Journey Easier

September 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries often struggle with time pressure.

Although you may not be working or actively engaged in exhausting activities like child care, caregiving for others, running a business, et cetera, you still face many pressures – pressures to recover, pressures to deal with a difficult financial situation on a shoestring budget, pressures to manage your emotional and logistical crises, and pressures to deal with an often uncaring social security disability bureaucracy.

Given all your serious constraints, you would like to find a way to get more done faster… without compromising your care or rehab or sanity.

Enter Parkinson’s Law.

Simply stated, Parkinson’s Law is a truism about work: work fills up the volume of time you allot for it. If you give yourself eight hours to do a project, you will complete the project in roughly eight hours. If you give yourself four hours to do a project, you can probably get it done within four hours. If you give yourself 16 hours to do a project, it will take you 16 hours to do it. And so forth. Obviously, Parkinson’s Law is not the same kind of “law” as the law of gravity or anything like that. Rather, it’s a nice heuristic or rule of thumb that North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries can use to make some serious inroads into their problems.

Here is an example. Say you need a rehab specialist to help you fix myofascial pain in your extremities. You could spend a week or two weeks or even longer researching various practitioners, weighing their strengths and weaknesses, scheduling free visits, et cetera. Or you could give yourself a “drop dead time limit” to make your decision. Maybe you give yourself three or four days. You might intuit that you’d make a better decision if you take the full amount of time – the two to three weeks that you would normally take. But Parkinson’s Law tells you that you wouldn’t gain any tangible advantages.

In other words, you would have essentially the same rehab experience… whether you took three weeks to find a practitioner or took three days to find one. Parkinson’s Law is not a license to be sloppy or to lower your standards. Instead, it’s a tool to help you avoid open ended searches and to make better use of your time.

Of course, there are certain aspects of your SSD struggle that you can’t handle on your own. A reputable North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you figure out what you need to do, how to do it, and how to optimize your resources and minimize your mistakes.

More Web Resources:

Parkinson’s Law Explained

Leveraging Parkinson’s Law to Get More Done in Less Time

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

September 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

So what can you do?

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

One Simple but Surprisingly Tricky Solution: Get Connected

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

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

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

More web resources:

Human beings are social creatures

How social connections can help us get through problems.

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

September 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Too Much Information Problem

informational noise

Shortcutting the Recovery: Applying the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) to Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Problems

September 15, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiary (or wannabe beneficiary), you are stuck facing possible financial insolvency, medical/rehab issues and surgeries, emotional frustrations, family support issues, and possibly trouble getting the benefits you need and crave to restore your life. With so many tasks to deal with at once, which ones do you focus on?

One interesting way of breaking down your problems is to leverage something called 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This principle was created by a nineteenth-century economist (named, coincidently Pareto), and it suggests that there is an imbalance between system inputs and system outputs. Eighty percent of your effort will only result in 20% of the effects and vice versa – 20% of your efforts will result in 80% of your output. So if you are in business, 20% of your clients will yield 80% of your revenue. If you’re sick, 20% of your care will lead to 80% of the benefits. And so forth. In other words, this principle holds throughout nature and is applicable in many scenarios. For instance, 80% of the wealth of any nation is owned by 20% of the population (roughly), irrespective of that nation’s economic health, size of the economy, political system, etc.

So North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants can benefit from this idea by zeroing in on the so-called “vital few” (the 20% of inputs that make 80% of the difference) to solve their problems faster. For instance, say you are engaged in numerous physical therapies to treat chronically sore back. You do an 80/20 analysis of which therapies are really working for you and which ones are not (by, for instance, journaling how you feel before, during and after each rehab session), and lo and behold, you might find that your deep-tissue massage gives you far more benefit than any other therapies, such as Pilates, acupuncture, movement therapies, etc.

Once you have isolated the “vital few” things that make the most difference, you amp them up and get rid of the 80% of the stuff that’s giving you 20% of results. So in our theoretical example, this might mean that you quit doing yoga, Pilates, and dance, instead tripling the amount of deep-tissue massage you get every week.

In other words, you highlight the stuff that works and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t. If you keep doing these 80/20 purges in all areas of your business, life, and health, you might be surprised by how much more effective your recovery will be. Along those lines, get the help you need by connecting with a respected, highly skilled North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

Pareto Principle

How to do an 80/20 purge

Young, Seemingly Healthy…and on North Carolina Social Security Disability

September 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Conjure up an image in your mind of an archetypal person who collects North Carolina Social Security Disability.

Perhaps, you thought of an elderly diabetic woman who can barely make ends meet and needs help just dealing with the day-to-day. Or maybe you fixated on an image of an injured factory worker who lost mobility in his legs and suffered a disease or illness that has complicated his recovery. If you are like a normal person, chances are your image of the North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiary is of someone who is old, sick, or otherwise severely infirm.

But young people go on SSD as well – for a variety of medical reasons, such as chronic illness. And the experience of collecting SSD as a young adult may be quite different. It’s one thing if you are 75 and in ill health. That’s obviously unpleasant. But we all recognize the reality that we will grow more infirm as we get older. But if you are 27 and sick with a serious illness – while your peers and friends are out partying, Facebooking, and living their lives as if they literally have forever – your situation can feel quite lonely, scary, and exasperating.

So if you are young and sick, what can you do to make the most of your situation?

Obviously, you can research support groups online, go to therapy, and spend time every day reflecting in gratitude about what you have in your life (as opposed to what you lack). One critical factor is finding social support. We, as human beings, are very sensitive to the judgments of our peers. We can respond to those judgments or become resilient to them, but it’s folly to ignore the powerful effects of peer group thinking. That’s why support groups are so wonderful – not just because they give you a forum to discuss issues — but also because they allow you to redefine what’s socially normative, and thus help you feel better about your situation and your progress.

For help dealing with the myriad logistical, financial, and legal issues that you confront, talk to an experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability firm.

More Web Resources:

Young and sick?

Peer groups impact psychology

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

September 8, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

It’s a big mess, in other words.

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

President Perry?

President Romney?

President Obama (Part 2)?

The Miserable Medical Prognosis Problem: How a Dire Word from Your Doctor Can Set Back Your Quest for North Carolina Social Security Disability

September 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

To qualify for North Carolina social security disability (SSD), you have to be pretty sick and/or injured. And many would-be beneficiaries spend a tremendous amounts of time and energy proving that they really are hurt or sick enough to qualify for money for key living expenses, medical bills, and the like.

But what if your situation is far more desperate?

What if you are seriously ill – possibly even dying – and your concern is less about qualifying for SSD or supplemental security income (SSI) than it is fighting for your life?

Obviously, your health needs trump everything else. But a somber word from a doctor, an ambiguous or disappointing test result, or some other piece of bad medical news can totally throw you off your game. Among other things, your quest to line up and secure your North Carolina social security disability payments may lose its urgency.

This sounds paradoxical at first. But the reason a bad diagnosis will make your journey more difficult has nothing to do with your qualifications – rather, it has to do with your motivation. If you are seriously injured or sick, you may not have the will, wherewithal, or energy to fight through the bureaucracy that stands in your way. You might be tempted to just give up, accept your fate, and abandon hope.

• Instead of filling out requisite paperwork, you may leave the papers on your desk for weeks or even months because you are so tired or filled with despair that you can’t be bothered.
• Or you may delay or defer connecting with a qualified North Carolina social security disability law firm because, from your depressed perspective, it no longer matters whether you get SSD or not.

Not only is this captulation sad and almost certainly premature, but it can have real and negative effects on your health. The more support you have – emotional, financial, logistical, and otherwise — the greater your potential is to overcome your illness/injury and get your life back.

At this point, you need MORE resources and help – not less. If you’ve been beaten down by a bad diagnosis or frustrated by some other piece of bad news, as difficult as it sounds, strive to redouble your efforts and get the critical help you need. You owe it to yourself and your family, and you might be surprised by your own resourcefulness and by the resources available to help you through this admittedly challenging and scary time.

More Web Resources:

Dealing with bad medical news

The Over-spending Problem: How Winning Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Case Can Backfire

August 31, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

You and your family are in a tough battle to obtain a fair and just North Carolina Social Security Disability settlement. You need SSD money to live, recover, and pay for medical treatments. And the battle for these funds can be vicious, scary, full of setbacks (and missed opportunities), and quite complicated. Even if an effective and thorough North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm helps you, you will still encounter myriad challenges – some of which you don’t even expect to encounter right now.

To prepare best, you need to focus on great outcomes, but also to anticipate traps and possible problems.

One of the key problems that SSD beneficiaries encounter is the over-spending problem.

Basically, some beneficiaries treat their benefits like a cash windfall – like they won the lottery. They adjust their spending levels accordingly to their great detriment. SSD money was designed to be a safety net – a last-ditch effort to help stabilize the finances of someone in desperate need because of medical problems. It’s easy to condemn people who fall victim to the over-spending problem. You can already hear cries from hardcore libertarians to the effect of “look at all of those lazy people on North Carolina Social Security Disability who use their checks to buy Prada handbags and splurge on vacations. How dare they?” The rejoinder is: “Well, easy for you to say, if you are not in that situation.”

People who have been hurt, or are sick, overwhelmed, and scared by other problems often resort to less-than-resourceful tactics and strategies to cope with their situations. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the people who have the over-spending problem are weak-willed or stupid or unaware of the consequences. This simply means that their energies may not be directed appropriately, or they might not have the knowledge, skills, and support to handle the influx of cash.

What’s the Solution?

Part of the solution involves recognizing the problem and finding people, resources, tools, and education to help “dig you out.” On a more philosophical level, you might also want to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. Cutting-edge research in a variety of fields, including addiction and obesity, suggests that problems people typically blame themselves for – drinking too much alcohol and eating too much food, for instance – may stem not from a lack of willpower but from misguided attempts to empower and take back control.

For instance, Harvard psychiatrist Lance Dodes has posited that addicts engaged in destructive addictive behaviors are simply trying to empower themselves after feeling helpless. And science journalist Gary Taubes has hypothesized that obese people get fat not because they overeat but because they suffer hormonal damage to their fat tissue, not due to a weak will.

More Web Resources:

Cause of Over Spending?

Dodes addiction

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

August 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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


What is true for you NOW?

Renewing Hope Part 1: Why North Carolina Social Security Disability Hopefuls Need Not Despair

August 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or a sick or ill family member desperately wants North Carolina Social Security Disability to help manage seemingly uncontrollable costs, such as medical care, surgical bills, living expenses, rent, food bills, etc., you may feel terrified, hopeless, and disempowered.

This is only natural.

Whenever we experience setbacks – health problems, financial struggles, fights against large, faceless bureaucracies (e.g. the North Carolina social security disability system), our analytical minds begin worrying us with catastrophic thinking about worst-case outcomes. You might have thoughts like: What if the benefits don’t come through? How will I pay my rent? What if I don’t recover from this illness? This is all so unfair. How did this happen to me? What am I supposed to do with all this conflicting information about my disease, my benefits, my life that I am getting from all corners, including my doctor, my friends, the internet, etc?

These dilemmas plague almost anyone who is forced by circumstances to rely on government assistance to get by. And they don’t even take into account struggles many of us feel regarding our egos, our need for autonomy and independence, our need to be respected, and our need to take care of others.

But all that notwithstanding, hope may still abound.

In our series, we will address some ways to identify strategies and tactics to reboot your hope; make sense of the panic and chaos in your life; and deal with things like the unflinchingly cold Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) bureaucracy, uncaring judges, friends, family members, and co-workers who don’t understand; and the self doubts that plague you constantly about what you should or should not being doing to maximize your benefits, heal quickly, and so forth.

This four-part series can only scratch the surface, but, hopefully, it will clue you into a more productive and resourceful way of thinking and allow you to regenerate your own sense of hope, so you can face hardships thrown your way – whatever they may be – with grounded and purposeful action that is optimistic and free from pointless and destructive catastrophic thinking.

Stay tuned for our next post in the series, in which we take a look at constrains that prevent SSD and SSI beneficiaries (or wannabe beneficiaries) from feeling more hopeful. If you have an urgent or critical question about how to get started with your benefits, how to deal with an upcoming ALJ hearing, or anything else, connect with a quality, experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm.

More Web Resources:

catastrophic thinking

quantifiable power of hope

Will The Debt Ceiling Deal Destroy My North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits?

August 21, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability beneficiaries, along with others who depend on government programs such as unemployment, Medicare, Medicaid, and workers’ comp. to pay for expenses like rent, food, heat, electricity, and medication are sounding the alarm. The Sunday before last, President Obama and Congressional leaders broke through an impasse, carving out a plan to reduce government spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. tend to not to raising Americas credit card limit.

Some commentators say this is a good thing, while others claim it’s bad. But North Carolina social security disability recipients are wondering how this colossal policy change will ultimately impact them. Will the slashing of benefits mean that they will have to make do with less? Will the policy change the economy, and will other macroeconomic factors indirectly impact the social security disability policy? How long will all this take? Who can tell them what they need to do, when, and why?

It’s normal to have these fears and concerns. In fact, even the most deeply informed policy analysts and economists are still wrestling with these and other questions, and it may take a long time before anyone understands the full implications of the agreement made between the President and Congress.

This is the unpleasant reality: we are simply going to have to live with some amount of uncertainty for the time being. On the other hand, these macro changes may be less important to your own path forward than you may believe. Changes in how and why people can access government benefits can have real and substantial impact on beneficiaries. But the sick, ill, and incapacitated have surprising flexibility. In other words, the right strategy can make all the difference. Even if your current benefit, medical, or even financial situation looks bleak, now is not the time to give up hope. There will always be a certain amount of irreducible uncertainty regarding your benefits, your medical prognosis, and the SSD system in general. But that doesn’t mean that uncertainty should make you freeze, leaving you with “analysis paralysis.” Start by identifying exactly what you need, and then take stock of where you are now. Once you have a definite goal in mind, you can progress toward achieving that goal. Then, talk to a North Carolina social security disability law firm for help with attaining your goal.

More Web Resources:

Debt ceiling debate

Breakthrough on debt ceiling

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

August 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

August 2011 Stock Market Swings

Social Security on the chopping block?

Finding Meaning When You Are on North Carolina Social Security Disability: A Fun, Useful Exercise

August 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Let’s flash forward two months from now. Thanks to the help of a North Carolina social security disability law firm, you’ve managed to secure the benefits you need to pay for your therapy, medical bills, lost wages, future time off work, and a battery of other costs. This is a best scenario outcome. But now what? While you are not actively recovering from your accident/illness in physical therapy or at a doctor’s office, you likely will have more down time. How can you make use of that time to improve your circumstances?

There are obviously an infinite number ways to go. But now might be the perfect time to take a breather and reflect on the bigger picture of your life. For instance, you might want to ask yourself what the most important things in your life are. Because whether you have six months to live or 60 years to live, you’d like to, ideally, maximize your time doing meaningful activities.

This may seem like a dumb exercise – obviously you already know what the most important things in your life are, don’t you? Perhaps you do. But perhaps you don’t. And even if you do, these important things are likely hazily constructed. Writing them down on a piece of paper and focusing on them every morning and every night can be a useful way to strengthen your appreciation of them. For instance, say your children are very important to you. That’s all well and good in the abstract. But when it comes time to choosing between watching a rerun of “Swamp People” on the History Channel and phoning your 43-year-old son for a heart-to-heart, you might default to vegging out in front of the TV instead of doing what’s truly important to you.

To identify these meaningful things in your life while you are out on North Carolina social security disability, ask yourself a series of “why?” questions. For instance, say you think that building a relationship with your son is important. Ask yourself why that is important. Write down the answer. For instance, you might write “because family is important to me.” Then you would ask the why question again – why is family important to you. And you might write: “Because I love being connected with the people I love.” Ask why again: Why is it important to show the people that you love them? And your answer might be something to the effect of: “Because this is a fundamental value that I hold.” Once you drill down to these fundamental values, you can stop. If you repeat these exercise with everything that you name as “meaningful,” you will come up with a list of critical values – your core values that motivate you – and you can use these to focus on while you mend and heal.

More Web Resources:

Swamp People

Asking the 5 Whys

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

Caretaker Challenge #2: Loneliness – A Primer for People Who Help Others on North Carolina Social Security Disability

August 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Caregivers who administer to beneficiaries (or hurt or sick people on North Carolina Social Security Disability) often put the needs of the hurt/sick person ahead of their own needs.

This can be dangerous, not only for your mental and physical health, but also for the beneficiary’s mental and physical health. You must pay attention to and attend to your needs to maximize your utility as a caregiver. To that end, this North Carolina Social Security Disability blog is highlighting some fundamental challenges that caregivers face in a four-part series that provides tips, tools, and resources.

Our Second Main Challenge: Loneliness

No matter how much you love and care about the person who is sick and/or ill, when you are a caregiver – even in an intimate situation – you feel a certain degree of loneliness and isolation. This is natural. When another person needs you so much all the time, every day, you may forget to take time off for yourself, forget that you also have needs and even actively suppress your desire for companionship and understanding “because you have a job to do.”

This is all very understandable. It’s all very human. But it’s dangerous. When you operate in a vacuum and take the weight of the world on your shoulders, you may develop an inflated sense of responsibility for the beneficiary’s mental and even physical health. And this can be bad because there are certain things over which you have little to no control.

For instance, say you are a caretaker for an elderly woman who has broken her hip and who needs Social Security Disability to pay for her rent, food, and medical care. The woman might feel extremely depressed about her situation. While you can help with the logistical and physical aspects of care – and also be an empathetic and compassionate caregiver – you can’t take away her depression. And if you operate from the perspective of “I can do it all if only if I try hard enough,” you may run yourself ragged.

All this is to say that you might want to avail yourself of resources such as:

• Talk to an experienced, highly-esteemed North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to help manage the beneficiary’s legal issues;
• Find support groups of other caregivers;
• Identify people and resources who can help you and listen to you when the caregiving becomes “too much”;
• Give yourself breaks throughout the day – indulge yourself with nice meals, a warm bath, exercise and meditation, healthy food, etc.;
• Practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. You are only human, and you are doing your best – that’s what’s important.

More Web Resources:

caretaker loneliness

importance of social support

North Carolina Social Security Disability Caregiver Challenge #3: Anger

August 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s the dark side of being a caregiver for someone who needs North Carolina Social Security Disability. You feel angry about your obligations.

You wouldn’t necessarily admit this anger to anyone. Maybe you even have a tough time admitting the anger to yourself. But it’s there, lurking, and you can pick up on it from time to time as you go about your duties. Where does this anger come from? What does it mean? What can you do about it? And how might the answers to those questions impact your ability to provide good, compassionate, voluntary care for someone who needs North Carolina Social Security Disability?

Everyone’s answers to those questions will be different. Anger is often a mechanism by which the subconscious mind alerts you to the fact that certain fundamental needs are not being met.

For instance, let’s say that you are the caretaker for an 83-year-old man who has chronic kidney disease. One day, after his dialysis, he snaps at you for taking off a bandage too rapidly. He is not overly aggressive about it. But for whatever reason, this makes you literally seethe and boil with anger. What’s going on under the surface? Well, look deeper. Look inside you. Are you really angry about the request – or about the fact that he chastised you? What is the “thought behind the thought”?

Pay attention to your thought process, and draw it out. Maybe you had a reaction to the effect of, “I do so much for this guy already, and now he is yelling at me because I pulled his bandage! What is wrong with him? Can’t he see how hard I am working and how much I am trying to help him?” So that might be the thought behind the thought. Then ask yourself: What fundamental human need is going unmet?

In this case, maybe you need to relax or need to be appreciated or understood. All three of those needs are fundamental. So the anger really isn’t about a comment he made – it’s about the fact that you have these key needs that are not being met, because you are too busy performing your role as a caregiver.

Once you begin to think in terms of your underlying feelings and needs, you can begin to handle the anger that arises in your day to day care. First of all, this allows you to communicate your anger without putting blame, guilt, or shame someone else. For instance, you could say, “When you chastised me about the bandage, I felt angry, because my need for respect and appreciation was not met.” Instead of, “Can’t you see how hard I am working for you? What’s wrong with you???”

In other words, you take responsibility for your own feelings and needs. This way of approaching anger is empowering and resourceful, as opposed to disempowering and depressing.

If this philosophical approach to anger management resonates with you, consider exploring the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of a school of thought called Nonviolent Communication. You also might want to tap into the resources of a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to help you deal with legal crises in your life or the life of the beneficiary for whom you are providing care.

More Web Resources:

Caretaker Anger

Marshall Rosenberg

North Carolina Social Security Disability Caregiver Challenge #4: Your Own Life is Falling to Pieces: What do you do?

August 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The last in this four-part series on the challenges facing caregivers for North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries addresses a relatively universal phenomenon. We have talked about how caregivers ignore their own mental and emotional needs when caring for the sick. And we’ve discussed various ways to manage problems like anger, uncertainty, and loneliness.

But the challenges are not all mental or emotional. There are logistical frustrations as well.

In particular, when you take “time out of your life” to care for a North Carolina Social Security Disability recipient, you are not simply taking time away from hobbies or idle time in front of the TV. You are taking time and resources away from key activities like paying the bills, spending time with your spouse or friends or family, your job, and so forth.

Many caregivers do not have the luxury to sacrifice these essentials. But they do anyway because they know how much the SSD recipient depends on them. Is there a way to meet everyone’s needs? Can you be an active, compassionate, present caregiver – often more than a full-time job – while simultaneously attending to the rest of your life? What should you do if you have fallen behind on your bills, gotten in trouble at your job, or suffered health consequences of your own?

Again, there are no easy or clear answers. The answer is always dependent on the situation. But caregivers can make some progress simply by noting what they need to get done and when they need to get it done. In other words, being organized in of itself will release some of the strain. What activities are essential and should not be delayed except under the most direst emergency (e.g. going to work, paying your bills) and what activities or goals can be put off, delayed, or eliminated altogether (e.g. TV watching, vacation plans, etc.)?

Avoid giving yourself too much to do. Focus on what really matters.

As human beings, our basic needs are pretty simple. We need food, shelter, health, good companionship, rest, exercise, and few other key components. Go through your life and figure out how you can meet all of your fundamental needs.

That’s the key: thinking.

Brainstorm creative ways to meet your needs without sacrificing your caregiver duties. You might be surprised. Once you have a very clear idea about what needs to be done, you might be surprised at how many different, creative, “shortcut” ways you can find to deal with your life and solve your problems.

Of course, you don’t have to do this all on your own. A qualified, high-caliber North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can help you not only with the legal issues facing SSD and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries, but a good law firm will also connect you with tools and resources to help in the other parts of your life as well.

More Web Resources:

Caregiver overwhelm

the genius of K.I.S.S.

Weaning Yourself Off of North Carolina Social Security Disability

August 1, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Even if you haven’t yet won your North Carolina Social Security Disability case, you should almost certainly be planning for the time where you no longer need the benefits.

This may seem like a bit of “putting the cart before the horse.” In some ways, it is. But as productivity guru Steven Covey has suggested, you should always begin projects “with the end in mind.” In other words, when you focus on positive outcomes – for instance, you are completely healed, back to work, and no longer in need of North Carolina Social Security Disability money to pay for your living expenses and other costs – then you can search for “shortcuts” to help you reach your end goals faster.

What kind of shortcuts are we talking about?

Here are a few ideas: If your goal is simply to speed up your retirement process – that is, to chip away at your expenses and collect new sources of income (such as SSD or Supplemental Security Income) to bridge the gap – then you can source a whole gamut of tools and resources to make that goal happen faster.

In other words, don’t just sit around and collect benefits in the hope that some magical solution will appear once the money runs out. You want to be analyzing and thinking about other ways you can either bring in more income or reduce your expenses or both – or maybe change your standard of living so you can afford a better life easier. For instance, instead of maintaining an expensive property, you may want to think about selling that property and moving in with a relative or moving to a part of the state where it’s cheaper to live.

The moral here is: It’s ultimately up to you to take action to change your life and shape it for the better. While a North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can certainly help you manage the logistics and complications of your claim, you ultimately must “walk the walk.” The clearer you can see the “end game” and the more time you can spend coming up with various plans and approaches to achieve that goal (or goals), the more resourceful your law firm – or anyone else who wants to help you – can be for you.

More Web Resources:

Begin with the end in mind

Is Sugar the Cause of Your North Carolina Social Security Disability Woes?

July 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Lovely, yummy white sugar is in the hotspot – once again – thanks to new research and exposes in papers like New York Magazine. In fact, if the allegations against sweet white powder are true, then many of your problems with North Carolina Social Security Disability – and even our national healthcare crisis – may be tied back, indirectly, to our statewide and national addiction to sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners.

UCSF pediatric obesity specialist, Dr. Robert Lustig, discussed this thesis in his now famous (and highly provocative) YouTube video lecture, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” – over 1.5 million hits to-date.

Lustig argues that fructose — when consumed chronically in large quantities, especially in liquid form — can cause insulin resistance and obesity. Fructose overloading basically does to your liver exactly what ethanol alcohol does, biochemically, believe it or not.

Fear not: pounding down a few cans of Coke won’t immediately give you insulin resistance and liver damage. But keep up that behavior – over several years, or decades, depending on your genetic tendencies and other factors – and all that fructose will do to your liver just what heavy drinking does to an alcoholic’s liver. At least, so argues Dr. Lustig.

Science Journalist Gary Taubes, author of a blockbuster piece on the same subject in the April issue of the New York Magazine, “Is Sugar Toxic?” examined Lustig’s work and came out on his side. Taubes even quoted a number of top cancer researchers, who believe that overconsumption of sugar may be at the core – or at least a main contributing factor – of many types of cancer. The doctors Taubes quotes have all sworn off eating sugar as a result. They never touch the stuff because they fear that it might cause cancer. Wow.

Of course, understanding the etiology (cause) of your illness or injury is important. But it’s equally important to get good logistical and legal advice. A creditable and powerful North Carolina Social Security Disability firm can identify good resources and help you make progress towards your goals.

More Web Resources:

Sugar: the Bitter Truth

Does sugar cause cancer??

Making the Most Out of Your North Carolina Social Security Disability “Vacation”

July 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve recently developed an illness — and you need significant help, such as North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits just to get by, pay your bills, and deal with the “day-to-day” of your life — odds are you might feel sad, depressed, and nervous about the future. But is all that worrying and agitation really resourceful for you?

Obviously, no one who truly has your interests at heart would suggest that you “blot out” the pain by medicating it away or by doing things like detaching yourself through hours of meditation. You have alarm bells going off for a reason. You shouldn’t ignore them.

But there may be ways to enjoy – or at least get utility out of – your “North Carolina Social Security Disability vacation” that you haven’t yet considered. For instance, maybe you spent your entire career working long — possibly even desperate — hours to support your family and get ahead in the corporate world. Now, you can’t work. You’re sick at home. Maybe now is the time to re-explore an old hobby that you let lie dormant. Or maybe you can use the time to reconnect with old friends or loved ones. Or maybe you can use this time simply to enjoy some introspection – reflecting on your life, working through old hurts and wounds, and reveling in the joys and the beauty of the time that you have left.

Simply change your perspective on what this “time off” means – maybe it’s not a vacation per se in the same way that a Hawaiian vacation is a vacation – but this time provides you the opportunity to reframe your outlook and contribute more to the world and to life in general.

More Web Resources:

staycation

making the most of time off

Change of Heart for North Carolina Social Security Disability Applicants with Heart Disease?

July 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Social Security Administration (SSA) may soon implement new rules that will help North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants who have heart disease get on the “fast track” to benefits through something called Compassionate Allowance.

Earlier this year, the SSA held a hearing to address whether cardiovascular disease should be added to a list of conditions that the SSA consults when it considers whether or not to fast track workers for benefits. Under normal circumstances, if you want to collect North Carolina Social Security Disability, you need to show that your disability is severe and impedes you from both doing your normal work and taking other work. But if your disease or condition is on the list of Compassionate Allowances, you get to shortcut the typical process.

Thus, people who have heart disease may soon be able to get benefits faster and easier – and focus on dealing with their cardiovascular conditions. Of course, not all cardiovascular disease is equally severe or problematic. Many people who have heart disease – and even people who have suffered heart attacks – can return to work and live long, healthy, productive lives.

This is one of the reasons why heart disease has not yet been added to the Compassionate Allowances list. So there will likely be some logistical and semantic wrangling over who exactly can bypass the traditional SSD route and under what circumstances.

If you are confused about how to move forward, and you want someone to help you develop a clear, step by step, reasonably bulletproof process to eliminate your uncertainties and maximize your chances of success, connect today with an experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm. The SSD/SSDI application process can be surprisingly complicated, and if your energy is already drained because you are fighting a disease, struggling to recover from a devastating injury, or simply just overwhelmed by paperwork, good legal can help you regain balance, control, and perspective.

More Web Resources:

Compassionate Allowances

Compassionate Allowances and heart disease

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

Debt Debate Has Real and Direct Impact on North Carolina Social Security Disability

July 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Will North Carolina Social Security Disability go the way of the dodo, if President Obama and the U.S. Congress fail to get their acts together regarding the debt limit?

Perhaps…but not likely.

According to official government statistics, approximately 70 million Americans – many of them North Carolinians – receive government benefits, such as veterans checks, disability payments, and social security, every month. President Obama warned that many of these benefits may be cut off on August 2nd if Congressional leaders and the President fail to strike a deal to raise the debt limit once again. In an interview with CBS News, President Obama wryly noted: “There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

Unless the doomsday-sayers are correct, chances are that the government will cave and raise the debt limit and avert catastrophe. So North Carolina Social Security Disability beneficiaries will continue to be able to collect their checks. But the imminent catastrophe is not what worries most serious analysts. Policy wonks are far more concerned about the long-term viability of programs like Social Security Disability.

With the baby boomer generation of Americans “graying” and unemployment numbers and other economic indicators suggesting that we might be mired in a long-term economically problematic environment, beneficiaries might expect some benefit cuts, at a time and place to be decided. And that’s what’s perhaps most disturbing – no one is sure exactly when or how the hammer blow will fall and what will follow. To protect yourself, educate yourself about your rights and responsibilities by connecting with a high caliber North Carolina Social Security Disability firm.

More Web Resources:

“There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it”


70 million Americans receive government benefits… or more??

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

North Carolina Social Security Disability: Against All Odds

June 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If your application for North Carolina social security disability gets rejected on first pass, the odds of your ultimately succeeding in collecting benefits to pay for your life, medical care, and other essentials are against you.

And that’s scary. Particularly if you suffer from a chronic condition or disease that you believe is destined to lead to death or permanent disability. Yes, you can avail yourself of powerful tools and resources (such as an experienced North Carolina social security disability law firm) to improve your odds and to help you through the process, financially, logistically, and even emotionally. But even still, as long as the uncertainty over your benefits lingers, you will likely feel some degree of tension, frustration, and even depression.

How do you deal with this “against all odds” frustration?

How do you make progress towards getting your benefits and otherwise piecing your life together and improving your medical condition without buckling under, given all the pressures you face from so many different directions?

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, the answer boils down to a combination of realism and positivity. On the one hand, you want to acknowledge the obstacles in your way. On the other hand, you want to constantly be on the lookout for good things in your life and potential bright spots.

One very interesting methodology that might be useful for you that comes from, of all places, an internet marketing guru by the name of Rich Schefren. He developed a business theory called Theory of Constraints, which he has put to use to help business owners blast through their marketing obstacles. How is that relevant to North Carolina social security disability questions? Well, first a brief primer on the theory. Essentially, Schefren borrowed an idea from engineering. The idea is to first identify in very clear, crystallized terms a precise goal. For instance, if you run a business, you might want to say “I want to earn $45,000 by the end of the year from my new business.” For an SSD applicant, you might say: “I want a solid budget that’s going to ensure that I get all my medical bills paid for within three months, and I want a complete and thorough diagnosis of my condition done by the best doctors in the US.”

Instead of just plowing towards those goals — which is what most people do — you stop and think. You try to identify all the constraints blocking the goals from being true now. In other words, why don’t you have $45,000 right now from your business? Why don’t you have a complete and through medical diagnosis from the best doctors in the United States regarding your condition?

Once you start to think in these terms – identifying the constraints – you then figure out how to blow through those constraints in the fastest, smartest, and most efficient way possible. There is a lot more to this model, but it may be useful for you if you are stuck with something and you are frustrated by your options. Thinking in terms of the constraints in the system – the pinch points – the reasons why your ideal life is not true now – can help you side step some of the most intractable seeming problems in your life and make the quest to get SSD much more simple and efficient.

More Web Resources:

Theory of Constraints

Rich Schefren

North Carolina Social Security Disability Applicants – Doing More With Less

June 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are at the point where you have to apply for North Carolina Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to run your life, pay your bills, and manage the future, chances are that you are running on very limited resources. Perhaps you are permanently disabled, feeling sick, facing a frustrating and tenuous medical path forward, burdened by financial pressures, feeling alone in your fight, and feeling generally overwhelmed by your state of affairs and the obstacles that you face.

If you feel some or all or even any of those feelings, you are not alone. These feelings of rage, frustration, depression, and anxiety are common among North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants. The question you have to deal with is: How can you make the most with the hem that you been dealt?

It’s easy for SSD beneficiaries to take less than constructive mindsets. You can wallow and self pity, get mad at government programs, get frustrated with your friends and family and doctors for failing to provide medical support, etc. And these feelings may or may not be justified. But that’s in many ways beside the point. The real question is: What is true now about your circumstances? What’s frustrating you about your circumstances? How would you like your circumstances to change? In order to maximize your resources, you need to have clear and coherent answers to these questions. Otherwise, it’s easy to wind up wasting good resources without making the kind of progress you want. On the other hand, once you have defined what you want to be true about your situation, you can then go about creating conditions even on a shoestring budget, even while you are dealing with a difficult diagnosis, even while you lack a significant social support system – to better yourself. It all begins with clarity.

So what’s the secret for getting clear? Step one is often simply to figure out what’s on your mind right now. The most difficult and frustrating problems you face are often never far from our thoughts. So one potentially quite useful exercise might be to spend about two hours drafting every single pressing issue on your mind down – no matter how trivial, no matter how big. Productivity theorist David Allen calls this collecting “open loops” – anything that has a pull on your attention. Once you have a complete and thorough collection of “open loops” there are techniques and systems and processes you can use (such as Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology to comb through them, analyze them, and otherwise wrangle with them. But even if you don’t go any further than just doing the simple exercise of writing things down, you can and almost certainly will feel more relaxed, less stressed out, and more confident that you can deal with what’s in front of you. Because truth be told, for most people it’s not a lack of resources that causes problems – it’s a lack of clarity – a lack of seeing all that we’ve committed to, consciously and unconsciously.

If you need help with a benefits issue, connect with a qualified North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to get clear on your rights and resources.

More Web Resources:

open loops

What is true now – facing reality

Dealing with the North Carolina Social Security Disability Haters

June 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In an ideal world, anyone who needs North Carolina social security disability to pay for medical care, living expenses, and other costs while recuperating from an injury or illness would be treated with dignity and respect by the community. Unfortunately, the real world often doesn’t work this way. Indeed, if you do have to take SSD or (Supplementary Security Income – (SSI), odds are likely that you will encounter at least one or two salty critics of the social security program who will come either subtly or directly, blame you for systemic problems that are obviously out of your control. For instance, someone who has recently lost a job due to downsizing economy – or who has dealt with his or her own problems with the medical system – may resent that you are receiving any money from the government or problems receiving better care than he or she has gotten.

Obviously, you are not responsible for the state of the North Carolina social security disability system, nor should you be expected to solve multi-billion dollar, multi-generational financial crisis. Nor should you be required to justify to strangers (or even friends and colleagues) why you need the money so desperately do. So what should you do in these kinds of confrontations?

First of all, strive to listen to the feelings and needs that you feel and that your adversary exhibits. Try to look beyond the blame, judgment, and guilt trip and focus instead on what Dr. Marshall Rosenberg (founder of a school of thought known as Nonviolent Communication) would describe as “what’s alive” in both you and the other person.

For instance, say someone criticizes you for taking “too much” money from state or federal government. Instead of hearing the judgment, focus instead on what the person might be needing or feeling. For instance, maybe he is upset because he needs medical care, and that need is not being met. Alternatively (and complementarily), listen to your own feelings and needs. May be that comment sparks a reaction of anger, frustration, and even fear because you have a need for safety and for resources for medical care.

Of course, these and other problems will inevitably crop up as you move forward with your recovery (ideally). A North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you preserve your rights, introduce you to resources you might not know about otherwise, and help you prevent other common issues and struggles that many SSD beneficiaries experience.

More Web Resources:

Nonviolent Communication

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg

North Carolina Social Security Disability and the Power of Focusing on What You Want

June 21, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants – whether they wind up successful at acquiring benefits or not – often feel like victims in more than one areas of their lives. First of all, SSD applicants likely suffer serious physical discomfort due to their injuries/illnesses, and these applicants often must undergo extensive, painful, and scary diagnostic procedures, treatments, and recuperation paths. But it’s not just the physical/medical stresses that make life so difficult for North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants. It’s also the financial stresses, the emotional frustrations, the sense of isolation, the feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control, the fear, and info overload they get when they start reading about possible ways to shortcut their problems and make the system respond better for them.

This blog has talked extensively about how resources, like a trustworthy, experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm, can play a vital role in helping struggling applicants get the results they seek. But ultimately, you are responsible for your own path through life. And no coach, law firm, good Samaritan, relative, or even spouse can identify a totally clear and perfectly calibrated step-by-step life plan.

Of course, no one would dispute this. But if you are struggling with uncertainties and frustrations (like we talked about above), you likely do need some help and guidance. But it’s much better if you can figure out how to derive some guidance for yourself instead of having to rely constantly on other people to tell you what to do and how to do it.

One of the best methods of clarifying what you need involves goal setting. You might have heard this a million times, but it’s well worth repeating. When your brain focuses on a goal, it automatically leverages subconscious mechanisms to get you there. The key is putting in mental effort into getting clarity on what you want – writing it down (or having someone else write it down, if you are too sick or injured), and then visualizing this repeatedly, every morning and night, if need be, until it essentially burns into your brain, and your subconscious believes you will end up there. Obviously, you want to this vision to be a positive one. But if you don’t spend the time to cultivate a positive vision, you may accidentally derive a negative vision – one that ends with you failing in your quest for SSD benefits, sicker than before, friendless, resourceless, etc. No one wants this. But if you don’t take the time to elucidate and clarify what you want – not just out of your experience with the SSD application but with other areas of your life – chances are that you will fall into default beliefs that may not be resourceful for you.

More Web Resources:

Goal Setting

Clarity = Success

North Carolina Social Security Disability – Gaining Clarity, Part II

June 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In our last post, we talked about how North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants really do need clear goals to make progress, not just in terms of collecting the money they need to live their lives, but also in terms of managing the multiple other “fires” in their lives, including frustrations with money, relatives, medical problems, information overload, you name it.

In today’s post, we are going to break down one technique that can really help North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants develop clear outcomes that they can use to set goals and begin to make serious progress towards them.

Step 1. Purpose

Before you start, you have to know WHY you are doing something. Why do you want to get better medical treatment? What’s driving you to seek benefits? Believe it or not, very few people understand the purpose of why they do things, so getting clear about this first is going to put you leaps and bounds ahead of the pack.

Step 2. Principles

These are the guidelines for how you do or do not want to go about your task. Author David Allen (who came up with this model in his landmark book, Getting Things Done) talked about how to derive your principles simply by filling in the following sentence stem: “I would give anyone else full permission to do this project as long as they….” Whatever you fill in that sentence will be your principles. Don’t spend a lot of time deriving them – just write them down. Try to come up with seven or eight answers to the stem.

Step 3. Vision

Visualize the success of the project from long past its completion. In other words, say it’s six months after you’ve succeeded doing this exercise. Imagine yourself looking back. What went right? How did it go right? Think about all the exciting, wonderful, fulfilling features of this future. Write them down. Don’t worry about organizing them yet. That’s going to be a step that comes later. Just flesh out the vision as much as you can.

Step 4. Brainstorming

Once you have your vision in place, it’s times to brainstorm possible ways to get there. Again, don’t worry about getting it right or censoring yourself. Just go for volume. Using tools called “mind maps” can help you here. Try to get as many ideas on the table as possible.

Step 5. Organization

Now, it’s time to put on a different mental hat and sort your ideas. What needs to come first, second, third? What steps can be skipped? How can you do this the fastest? You are looking to build a bridge to your vision by using all the stuff that you came up with in your brainstorming.

Step 6. Develop an action plan

Figuring out your “next actions” is the final part of the process. What physical things in the world do you need to do to move forward on each of the sequences that you developed in step five?

This blog simply sketches out the model that David Allen developed in detail in “Getting Things Done” but hopefully it can at least get you thinking about a new technique for getting clear about your goals, so you can make better practical decisions.

If you need help with any aspect of the SSD application process, don’t “go it alone” – connect with a reputable, experienced North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm to help you move forward.

More Web Resources:

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done Vertical Planning

North Carolina Social Security Disability Dilemma

June 15, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants face unparallel challenges, frustrations, and potential disappointments. Not only must they contend with serious illness or injury – perhaps a fatal or at least very depressing diagnosis – but they also must simultaneously juggle financial, logistical, and emotional challenges on top of the physical ones.

Google search forums devoted to topics like North Carolina Social Security Disability, and you will hear a common refrain from people trying to help: “Keep a positive attitude.” And it’s true that searching for the bright side of things – looking for the silver lining in the dark ominous clouds – can yield up serious and tangible benefits.

The brain’s reticular activating center (RAC) is a very powerful tool. Essentially, when you focus on a particular topic, mood, or even color, your brain will actually start screening for that stimulus. You can do a little self-experiment to prove this. Think about the color green. Now look around your surroundings. Do green items in your field of view suddenly become prominent? For instance, maybe there are leaves on a tree outside your window that you just suddenly noticed or a green pad of paper near your desk that caught your eye.

The same thing might be true of your mood. If you think happy thoughts, the world will seem a lot happier. So this is a reason why SSD applicants should strive to look on the bright side.

On the other hand, if you ignore your realities and live in fantasyland, you could run a ground of significant frustrations. You need to pay attention to the deadlines for your application. As a patient, you must keep up with your medical history and alert your physician if something doesn’t seem right about the care you are getting. So you need to strike a balance – you want to look at world through rose-colored glasses… but not so rose-colored that they blind your vision.

You may be able to grapple with this dilemma on your own. But why not avail yourself of better resources? A North Carolina Social Security Disability law firm can explain your rights, potential benefits, and possible hurdles.

More Web Resources:

Reticular Activating System

Reality Based Thinking

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

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

June 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Bill Novelli SSD article in Politico

The Horse & the Urban Environment

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

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

May 31, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

What can explain this massive rise in disabled workers?

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Adult Baby Is Our Best Hope to Fix Social Security

Gary Taubes

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

How will the “Graying” of the Baby Boom Generation Change North Carolina Social Security Disability?

April 22, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In 2011, the first of the baby boomers will officially become eligible to collect social security benefits. Experts who study North Carolina Social Security Disability questions fear that this extremely populous generation (they didn’t call a baby “boom” for nothing) may seriously strain our national and state coffers. As more and more boomers start extracting money, can our social safety net remain solvent and productive?

A related, but also extremely crucial question, is whether North Carolina Social Security Disability will become harder and harder to qualify for because of the demographically related extra stress on the system.

In other words, as the boomers age, will eligibility requirements be ratcheted up and benefits sheared down?

And, if so, how can you anticipate heretofore as yet unwritten additional restrictions and plan your finances accordingly?

These are tricky but good questions, and unfortunately there are no simple answers. People who need SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are often under profound financial, physical, and even emotional strains. They may not have the resources, time, and stamina to delve deeply into “best practices” for financial planning.

Given this atmosphere of confusion, it’s easy to simply ignore the potential risks of increased eligibility restrictions, etc, and just “hope that the worst case doesn’t happen.”

But what if it does? You need contingencies.

Personal financial planners and other experts (such as a North Carolina Social Security Disability Law Firm) can help you strategize and even execute tactical shifts and changes in priorities.

You might also want to change your mind set about how entitlements fit into your planning. Specifically, it may be a mistake to plan from the assumption that you will get your maximum benefits. Instead, focus on what you can control – what some psychologist would describe as your “circle of influence” – and construct a plan that would work in that paradigm.

The point is, whether or not you manage to collect SSD or SSI is ultimately somewhat out of your hands. So, concentrate on what is within your control – for instance, your investment strategy or the amount of money you can generate through your job or other holdings – and then construct a few scenarios that allow you to “win” even if “lose” in your quest for SSD and SSI.

Again, developing these contingencies is easier than done. That’s why it’s helpful to consult with experts like financial planners and a North Carolina SSD Law Firm. Avail yourself of resources; make this easier for you and your family.

More Web Resources:

“Graying” of Baby Boomers

Uncertainty is Certain

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

April 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Raymond Pompey Fraud Arrest


Is the Social Security disability fund doomed?

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

How Much Longer Will North Carolina Social Security Disability Fund Last?

April 8, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On April 6th, the New York Times ran a story that petrified many in the North Carolina Social Security Disability community. “Disabled, But Looking for Work” author Motoko Rich reported that “for the last five years, Social Security has paid out more in benefits to disabled workers than it has taken in from payroll taxes. Government actuaries forecast that the Disability Trust Fund will run out of money by 2018.”

Rich reports that disabled worker benefits in 2010 totaled around $115 billion – nearly one out of every 21 Americans collects benefits. Out of context, these figures may not mean much. But the numbers have gone up significantly from a decade ago. Rich reports that a University of Maryland professor of Social Security data, Mark G. Duggan, estimates that only one out of every 30 Americans collected disability just one decade ago.

Something has changed to make North Carolina Social Security Disability (and disability throughout the U.S.) more popular and less solvent. Rich puts forth a grab bag of possible reasons for the bump in the number of beneficiaries:

1. The graying of the baby boomer generation may be to blame. Baby boomers are populous – as they get older, a greater percentage of Americans will rely on government benefits programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and SSD to survive and pay the bills.

2. An escalating number of mental illness and muscular skeletal ailment claims may be to blame.

3. Rich also suggests that “pressure [on judges] to process cases sometimes leads to more disability claims being accepted.”

Another possible explanation: repetitive computer work and increased consumption of sugary and processed foods has deteriorated our health. This might explain, for instance, the rocketing rates of obesity and diabetes in the country: people got fat and sick from eating too much sugar and doing too much repetitive work on computers — this increased the number of SSD beneficiaries.

Have you or a family member encountered trouble collecting social security disability benefits? Do you believe that the system has treated you unfairly, or you are simply confused about how to advocate for yourself to get the entitlements you need?

A North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you understand your legal rights and resources and develop a battle plan to collect money and help make the SSD system – as stressed as it is – work for your benefit.

More Web Resouces:

NYT story: “Disabled, But Looking for Work”

graying of the baby boomer generation – statistics

Is Obtaining North Carolina Social Security Disability an Impossibility?

April 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new blog post at www.walletpop.com, “Is disability insurance the post unemployment check? Not for many,” highlights a key problem that many people who apply for North Carolina Social Security Disability face. Specifically, once you suffer an illness/injury or find yourself unemployed, you may have trouble cultivating the mental and physical stamina necessary to “pick yourself up by the boot straps.”

Author Ann Brenoff explains the difficulties that many North Carolina Social Security Disability applicants face: “The screening process is so stringent that it even makes qualifying for a mortgage these days look easy. Only about 40% of those who apply get approved at the first step. And that step takes three or four months to process, although the program has a list of 88 diseases and conditions on a sort of fast track system to speed up the process for those with the most serious needs.”

Ms. Brenoff points out, however, it’s not just that the system is calcified and difficult to manage – even for people who are healthy and mentally adept. It’s that unemployment and disability tend to feed on one another. Numerous studies suggest that unemployment lowers self esteem, degrades health, chips away your confidence, and causes or exacerbates other deep seated problems. If you are unemployed, it’s more difficult to afford healthy food. You thus may be tempted to purchase foods like raisins and pasta and cheap sugary drinks – all of which contain nutrients that will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels and potentially cause or exacerbate obesity and diabetes. Hence, unemployment feeds your disability and vice-a-versa. If you’re sick and heavy due to a poor nutrition, you will be less likely to have the energy, stamina and charisma to land and keep a good job.

How does the cycle end? What can break it? The answer is obviously very complex, and a single blog post is not going to magically come up with the answer. But one key is getting help.

If you’re sick and financially struggling and otherwise unwell, there is no reason for you to struggle through your problems on your own. A North Carolina social security disability law firm can help you understand your rights and can develop a blueprint for to help you get back on track with your recovery and job search.

More Web Resources:

“Is disability insurance the post unemployment check? Not for many,”


88 diseases and conditions on the SSD fast track

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

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

April 1, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

www.socialsecurity.gov

 
 

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