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Dealing with Your Social Security Disability Journey: Imagining the Obstacles

Imagining the Worst Case Scenario For Your Case and Health — And Planning Backwards to Deal With It

Anxiety is a normal part of recovery, but it’s also (perhaps surprisingly, given the intensity of the emotion) one of the easiest roadblocks to overcome. Although common advice indicates that you should simply visualize positive outcomes, you may actually benefit more from vividly imagining the worst-case scenarios—along with plausible solutions. Sounds counterintuitive, but there’s a method to this particular madness. Here’s how (and why) to consider this regimen:

List Specific Scenarios

Instead of allowing nebulous images or ruminations to cloud your thinking, highlight a few specific scenarios. Write them down, and get specific. What exactly could happen, and how would it impact your future? For example, if you’re denied Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, how will that affect your day-to-day life? Explain the expected financial strain in detail, highlighting the bills you may struggle to pay without that extra check in the mail.

Develop Contingencies

Putting pen to paper quickly gives you an idea of how realistic your greatest fears really are. Take it a step further, and develop specific plans you’ll put into place if any of your outlined fears come true. Looking back to the example of a claim denial: you could contact a lawyer to begin the appeals process. In the meantime, you might move in with a family member to save money on rent.

Catastrophic thinking may not be as damaging as previously assumed; the real problem lies in rumination, in which reoccurring thoughts make it impossible to focus on anything else. If, however, you take a realistic look at worst-case ideas, you’ll realize that you are probably perfectly capable of handling even devastating scenarios. You’ll feel even more capable after you prepare a plan B.

Ultimately, it all comes down to a single cliche: “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Once you’ve tackled the first part of these instructions, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to take future issues head-on—and you’ll feel that much more grateful if those problems fail to arise in the first place.

Effective legal representation can ease a lot of your disability-related anxiety. This is a great time to turn to Smith, Wallis, and Scott for relief. Call us to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Trigger Point Resources for Injured Georgia Workers

Workers’ Compensation Claimants: Bookmark These Resources on Trigger Point Treatment for Your Back

If you suspect trigger points (TPS) are responsible for your current work-related back pain, the following resources offer useful insight:

The Concise Book of Trigger Points

A classic in the growing trigger point field, this essential guide has been translated into over twenty languages. Although published over a decade ago, the manual has been updated on numerous occasions with the latest research. Detailed information and illustrations will help your (and your doctor) navigate TPS and referred pain.

Trigger Points Explained With Animation

Looking for a simplified explanation of trigger points, accompanied by easy-to-understand visuals? Check out this YouTube video, which breaks down all the terminology you struggle to keep straight.

What Is a Trigger Point? Trigger Points Explained

Wizard of Health offers a simple trigger point 101 video on YouTube. The four-minute clip provides a basic definition of trigger points, along with a break-down of the confusing terms included in the typical medical definition. The video also provides a valuable analogy involving an adapter plugged into a socket, which makes it easier to grasp confusing concepts.

Needling Therapies in the Management of Myofascial Trigger Point Pain

Interested in dry needling or acupuncture? This notable study explores the expanding role of these therapies in TPS pain management. Further insight into dry needling can be found in an additional study from the APTA’s Physical Therapy journal.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome Support Group

Finding social support for your condition can be a real struggle. Thankfully, multiple support groups exist online. This group from DailyStrength is especially valuable. Browse existing threads or ask the group’s 200+ members for input. (Of course, do not engage in any therapy without first consulting a qualified physician.)

The better you understand trigger point induced pain, the better you can advocate for yourself as a workers’ compensation claimant. Smith, Wallis, and Scott can help you every step of the way; contact us today to learn more.

Treating Trigger Points After a Work Related Back Injury

Trigger Points and Back Injuries: Which Treatments Actually Work?

Myofascial trigger points (TPS) remain shrouded in mystery; while recent research has uncovered many possible causes and treatment approaches, no one solution applies to all TPS sufferers. Some patients may be forced to try several approaches before finding one that works consistently. The following are a few of the best options for trigger point relief. (Please note that this is not a health blog, and we are not attempting to diagnose or treat you here! See your physician if you’re in pain and before you start any medical treatment.)

Strength Training

Many patients suffer TPS due to muscle overload. Strength training prevents new trigger points by reducing the risk of overexertion. However, to be effective, strength training generally must be undertaken on a gradual basis. An overly ambitious regimen could lead to far worse trigger point pain.

Soft Tissue Massage

In the short-term, self-massage can often provide significant relief. However, a certified massage therapist can better target problem areas. Look for a therapist experienced in trigger point therapy.

Dry Needling

Sometimes referred to as intramuscular stimulation, dry needling stimulates myofascial trigger points, allowing physical therapists to reach areas that cannot be manually targeted.

Acupuncture

Not to be confused with dry needling, acupuncture has relieved both acute and chronic pain for thousands of years. Acupuncturists focus on meridians, where the energy, or Qi, may be concentrated. A study published by the International Association for the Study of Pain found a high degree of correspondence between trigger points and acupuncture points.

Myopulse

A sophisticated non-invasive therapy, myopulse treatment involves application of low voltage micro-currents, which, when sent through injured areas, promote quick pain relief and long-term healing.

Trigger point sufferers typically begin with non-invasive therapies such as strength training or massage, switching to more advanced approaches if necessary. No one strategy will work equally well for all TPS patients; be open to trying unfamiliar treatments (with your physician’s careful guidance).

Call Smith, Wallis, and Scott at (770) 214-2500 to learn more about obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia.

Trigger Points and Back Injuries: the Basics

Your Injured Back and Myofascial Trigger Points: What You Need to Know

Whether you wrenched your back in a lifting accident—a single moment of agony—or hurt yourself through repetitive work over months or years, you’d like to understand the root cause of your discomfort. Why does your pain fail to correspond directly to the injured point? Why do your muscles feel tight and/or tender to the touch? Why does the right massage—done in just the right way—give you so much temporary relief?

The answer could be that your back injury has been caused by (or exacerbated by) myofascial trigger points. In today’s post and two that follow, we’ll explore these strange, poorly understood and significant sources of chronic back pain.

Defining Trigger Points

In 1942, Dr. Janet Travell coined the term “trigger point” in hopes of describing and treating a phenomenon with the following attributes:

  • Pain related to a specific point in the fascia (a type of connective tissue) not caused by inflammation or infection, or explained via a neurological examination.
  • If pressed upon, the trigger point is felt as a hardened nodule within a taut band of muscle.
  • A twitch response (but not a muscle spasm) may occur upon placing pressure on the trigger point.

Although they can appear in numerous locations, trigger points are most commonly seen in the shoulders, neck, pelvis and hips.

Referred Pain

Trigger points share some attributes with tender points, but their defining characteristic is referred pain. If pressure is placed on one point, it may refer, or transfer some of the pain to another location. For example, a trapezius-based trigger point can refer pain up the side of the neck and all the way to the head. This referred pain may ultimately lead to a severe headache.

What Causes Trigger Points to Activate?

Many factors prompt trigger point activation, including:

  • Muscle overload
  • Bad posture
  • Direct trauma to an area.

If trigger points activate in one region of the body, other areas may also activate in response.

Once you’ve identified the source of your pain and the cause, you can take steps to address and eliminate it. In our next blog, we’ll explore pain relief options—stay tuned!

Call Smith, Wallis, and Scott at (770) 214-2500 to learn more about your legal options as a trigger point patient.

Clearing Your Mind to Deal with Your Social Security Disability Case

Getting a Handle on What’s on Your Mind With Your Social Security Case—and General Situation

Social Security Disability (SSD) applicants tend to assume the worst, and with good reason: outright denial remains distressingly common, and appeals often take ages to resolve. Unfortunately, as you navigate the SSD process, you may find yourself worrying excessively about your health or finances.

Things may seem bad, but is your situation as dire as your knee-jerk reaction suggests? Could you be overreacting to a difficult, but manageable situation? Take inventory of your status to determine the reality of your heath and finances. No matter the severity of your situation, you’ll emerge feeling better equipped to handle whatever red tape lies ahead.

The Power of Thinking Clean

Steve Jobs claimed that ‘simple thinking’ was far more difficult than complex ruminations, but also more valuable. In his opinion, ordinary people could “move mountains” if they mastered the art of clean thinking.

Performing a Brain Dump

As the victim of disability, you naturally have a lot on your mind. Your best path to clean thinking involves a brain dump, in which you clear all worries so you can focus on more important matters. Find a pencil and piece of paper, and write every single thought in your head, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. Don’t judge—just write.

Master List

Once you’ve written all that occupies your mind, it’s time to channel your energy. Jot down any to-do items from your previous brain dump in a smartphone app or notebook. Add new to-do’s as they pop into your brain. Choose a time to delve through the list, and highlight five things you can tackle in the next week. Prioritize these tasks based on which will garner the most value, both now and in the long-term.

Brain dumps and master lists can help you make the most of a difficult situation. The sooner you achieve mental clarity, the more you’ll accomplish, regardless of your disability.

As you deal with the complications of everyday life, leave your SSD concerns to the experienced lawyers at Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP. Please call us today to schedule a confidential consultation.

What the Stockdale Paradox Teaches Us about Social Security Disability Claims

The Stockdale Paradox: Persevering Through the Challenges of Disability

Your Social Security Disability (SSD) battle is just beginning; your future may include a bitter fight for benefits, plus ongoing medical and financial struggles. Don’t lose hope; the Stockdale Paradox can prepare you for the challenges ahead. Named after the inspiring admiral Jim Stockdale, this revolutionary concept forces you to maintain two seemingly conflicting ideas, as outlined below:

Idea 1: Accepting the Brutal Facts of Your Situation and Abandoning Fantasyland

You may be tempted to adopt a pie in the sky attitude towards recovery. Although commendable, this optimism sets you up for considerable disappointment down the road. There is only so much you can reasonably accomplish. Stop discounting your physician or physical therapist’s assessment. Accept that you are severely injured and that you face a long and painful recovery process.

Stockdale—who among other things served as a Vice Presidential candidate for Ross Perot in the 1990’s—developed his idea while imprisoned during the Vietnam War. Despite being tortured regularly, he motivated the men under him and kept everyone focused on the long game. Stockdale noted something counterintuitive: the most optimistic prisoners typically perished first. After deluding themselves for months that they would get out by Christmas—and when Christmas came and went without hope, by Easter; and when Easter came and went without hope, by July 4th; and so on—they eventually broke down under the burden of inflated expectations.

Idea 2: Faith That You Will Prevail in the End

The Stockdale Paradox’s first idea may cause feelings of despair, but don’t give in to hopelessness just yet; the paradox also mandates that you maintain faith in a positive outcome. (Those who survived the prison believed in their hearts that they would somehow make it.)

Yes, your ordeal will be difficult, but you have tools to make it through. You must take action, however, or nothing will change. For example, Stockdale made every effort to raise morale among fellow prisoners; he developed a tapping code for communication purposes and a milestone system to get through torture.

Accept the gritty reality, but don’t stand still. You can take action to change things positively. Begin by making a list of things you can do right now to improve your wellbeing.

As you face the physical and mental anguish of recovery, let Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP take care of the legal aspects of your SSD case. Call us for a confidential strategy session.

A New Way to Think about Your Social Security Disability Case

Introduction to Our Blog-to-Book Series: Thriving During Your Social Security Disability Case

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. –Isak Dinesen
Social Security Disability (SSD) cases can take months, even years to resolve. During that time, you must continue to handle everyday concerns. From paying the bills to recovering some semblance of mobility, many challenges lie ahead. These difficulties are by no means impossible to overcome, but the feelings of helplessness created by the illness create their own challenges. Sitting around and waiting can be agonizing, because you don’t feel in control of your destiny.

Monetary benefits definitely make life easier, and they’re worth the fight. But how should you deal with the purgatory of waiting? How can you not just survive but actually thrive, despite your physical, mental, and financial limitations?

The Problem With Typical SSD Resources

Most Social Security Disability resources—and there are tens of thousands of them on the web alone—focus on process questions only. How do you obtain benefits? How much should I expect? What’s a strategic way to deal with appeals? Etc.

These questions are certainly important, but they neglect deeper needs related to the purgatory we discussed. For instance: How should I make ends meet in the meantime? How can I process the wait, psychologically? What tricks or “hacks” can I use to reduce expenses, live fully, and reach life goals?

The few guides that acknowledge this difficult transition generally only focus on reaching a minimum level of health and wellbeing while you wait. But why be so limited? You shouldn’t take it for granted that you’re doomed to misery as you wait for financial relief. Why not do everything in your power to build a satisfying life, disability and all?

Creating the Life You Want

In this blog post series, we’ll help you make the most of this in-between time. We’ll teach you how to handle the challenges of living with a disability and without benefits. You’ll remain realistic about what you can accomplish while disabled and not covered by SSD, but you’ll also gain the courage to overcome assumed limitations.

We’ll provide the tools and knowledge you need to create a new life for yourself as you manage your symptoms and rebuild your life. It’ll take hard work, but if you follow through, you should emerge stronger and happier than you ever thought possible.

The team at Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP offers support through all phases of the SSD claims process; get in touch today to learn more.

5 Steps to Regain Control After a Loved One’s Car Crash

What to Do After a Loved One Has Been in a Car Accident: A Checklist (Part 2)

In a previous post, we catalogued seven smart steps to take after a loved one is hurt in a Georgia car accident. The first several days after this trauma can be disorienting. To that end, we’ve assembled a few more resourceful steps you can take to feel in control:

 

  1. Document what happened—to the best of your ability.

How did the crash occur? Who caused it? What’s the status of the car now… and what happened to the others involved? If your loved one is conscious, you may be able to obtain answers. Write down any information you get.

2. Collect witness statements.

 Can you reach/call people who saw the accident—or who experienced it as passengers or pedestrians? If so, get their names and contact information. Ask for their stories and copies of any cell phone pictures they took. The human memory is notoriously malleable: witness statements recorded right after a crash tend to be much more accurate than those remembered days or weeks afterwards.

3. Be a patient advocate.

 Depending on your relationship with the injured person, you may be barred from learning about the medical treatment or prognosis. (If you’re a spouse who has legal authority over your husband’s care, you’ll obviously have more power than if you’re just a good friend.) If possible, observe the care provided, take notes and ask good questions. Make sure that your loved one isn’t being ignored, and communicate any questions or concerns with staff. Be assertive (but avoid being rude).

4. Take care of yourself.

Eat healthy meals (i.e. “real food” with good fats, healthy protein and vegetables)—and don’t fill up on junk food from the hospital vending machine. Rest if and when possible. Even a 20 minute nap is better than nothing. Get fresh air; talk to people you trust about your feelings related to the crash; and practice mindful breathing.

  1. Make a list of questions to ask a Georgia car accident attorney

Aside from the medical/rehab challenges that lay ahead, your loved one will also likely need to deal with the insurance company, work, finances and beyond. Write down everything on your mind about the situation, and compile a list to ask an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer. The clearer your perspective, the better aid you can give to your loved one.

Call the Smith, Wallis and Scott LLP team for insight about what to do now. We offer free, no obligation, confidential consultations at (770) 214-2500.

7 Things to Do After a Loved One Gets Hurt in a Car Accident

What to Do After a Loved One Has Been in a Car Accident: A Checklist (Part 1)

A dear friend or loved one is hurt, and you want to help. What constructive steps can you take? We’ll explore your options in a two-part post. (These are not presented in time-sensitive order, nor are they comprehensive. For insight into a legal case, consult an experienced car accident attorney. For medical advice, speak with a qualified doctor.)

  1. Go to the hospital to visit her.

 If possible, get a ride to the hospital from a friend. Science suggests that learning about trauma can impair your driving ability, so play it safe. If necessary, use public transportation or a ride-share service.

      2.  Get help with your children.

If you have babies, toddlers or young kids, make arrangements for them as soon as possible against all else, so you can concentrate on your hurt loved one. You may need to notify school and have someone collect your children. Ask a relative or friend to take care of them for a few days.

  1. Keep friends and family in the loop.

Ask one or two people to spread the word, so you do not have to rehash the news repeatedly.

  1. Tell the boss.

You may need to inform both your boss and your loved one’s employer of the situation. If you can’t be at work for a while, ask your Human Resources (HR) person about the company leave policy.

  1. Call in favors from your own friends.

Be direct, and be specific. What do you need to serve your loved one, to coordinate with doctors and to stay comfortable? For instance: get fresh clothes, toiletries, medications, your cell phone charger and your tablet.

  1. Check in with law enforcement.

Get the report number and the name of the officer who went to the scene of the accident.

  1. Find an experienced Georgia car accident attorney,

Time may be of the essence to preserve critical evidence from the scene of the crash before it gets cleaned up or forensic clues get lost. Our team at Smith, Wallis and Scott LLP can help you develop a battle plan. Call us at (770) 214-2500 for insight about your next steps.

After a Georgia Car Accident: A Guide for Friends and Family

Someone You Love Was Hurt in a Georgia Car Accident: What Now?

 You’ll never forget the phone call. Your day was going along like any other; then you got the news. A catastrophic car accident severely hurt someone you love. Perhaps a runaway truck veered into your mother’s car’s lane; or maybe a teen driver immersed in text messaging T-boned the vehicle.

In any case, the situation has probably been quite overwhelming. Hopefully, your loved one survived. But no matter what happened, you face many challenges in the weeks ahead.

To that end, in this and upcoming posts, we’ll discuss strategies, tactics and resources to cope with the aftermath of a loved one’s car crash. Please bookmark this series, or call us for immediate, personal assistance.

The Next Several Days and Weeks

In the short-term, your to-do list will likely be packed. (And it’s not like you didn’t already have a tremendous amount on your plate.) Among many other projects, you might have to notify employers, friends, and relatives; help with the immediate medical crisis; keep the family going with meals, clean clothes, and school; deal with insurance issues; and find a good lawyer. We’ll explore challenges related to all these problems.

Beyond Triage—Coping with a New Normal

Depending on what happened, the echo of the accident could ring for some time. Over the long haul, you may need to deal with costly rehab; psychological fallout; loss of income to the family; and legal and financial crises. We’ll walk you through what to expect and connect you with powerful resources to weather the storms ahead.

Undoubtedly, you’re feeling strong emotions—overwhelm, anxiety, dread, perhaps numbness. But you don’t have to go through these challenges alone! The experienced team at Smith, Wallis and Scott LLP is standing by to help your family understand and protect your rights. Call us at (770) 214-2500 for a confidential free consultation. We can help you reclaim control.