Gillette Law - November 2017

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Thanksgiving is the season of gratitude and a perfect time to ask these questions:

We can make you a HERO! Tell us about individuals, groups, organizations, or other resources that have helped you navigate your disability journey. We can help you ease the struggles of others!

What are we grateful for?

Who should we recognize in our lives?

What stories should we tell?

As I’ve written before, I’m grateful for my outstanding team who help me to serve our clients. In our work, we encounter many people struggling to survive difficult times. Their stories can be heart-wrenching. This month, we would like to make you a HERO! Tell us about individuals, groups, organizations, or other resources that have helped you navigate your disability journey. We can help you ease the struggles of others! While we have a great deal of experience guiding folks through the disability process, we are always looking for new and improved solutions to the problems our clients frequently face. Who has helped you obtain the treatment or medications you need? Where did you get assistance with food, housing, or transportation? Is there a medical support group that you found to be a great source of hope and encouragement, as well as helpful in referrals?

Tell us about those who have made a difference in your life. Who or what are you grateful for?

I’ll give you an example. We have a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) ( here in Williamsburg. NAMI is a place for people with mental illness, or their family members, to get together to talk about the challenges they face. It also provides resources and counseling. NAMI has been a tremendous help to many of my clients and their families. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to the Williamsburg NAMI group. I spoke with them about the Social Security disability application and appeals process. At the end of my presentation, I was happy to address questions of attendees. It’s the least I can do for a group that’s been so helpful to so many of my clients. If you know of any other group that needs a speaker and could benefit from my knowledge and experience, please let me know. I’d love to help! We all face challenges in life, some bigger than others, but we don’t have to go through them alone. Let us make you a HERO! Happy Thanksgiving!

N e x t D o o r Bu

–Brian Gillette

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THE DISABILITY BACKLOG: WHAT CAN YOU DO? Five short years ago, an individual would wait about twelve months from the time they requested a hearing in their Social Security claim before a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge. Of course, this wait was quite a hardship for those who needed their disability check to pay for rent, groceries, and other bills. Unfortunately, the average wait for a hearing is now 20–23 months! Why the increase? Social Security Administration hearing office staff are working harder than ever. However, a string of budget cuts has caused SSA to reduce their staff and hours of operation, which makes it increasingly difficult to handle the growing volume of SSD cases. Currently, over 70,000 individuals who have had a disability hearing are waiting for their written decision. They likely will wait more than four months to receive the decision and longer before their payments begin if they are approved. The Associated Press recently reported the story of Chris Hoffman, a former bricklayer, who worked through chronic pain his whole life, until a series of heart attacks benched him for good. He applied for Disability Insurance Benefits in 2014 but was denied, as many initially are. He appealed to an Administrative Law Judge, but by the time the judge ruled he was entitled to benefits, he had been dead for 10 months. COLORING-BOOK TABLECLOTHS If you have a big family, you are probably familiar with the Thanksgiving tradition of the kids’ table. It may be smaller than the grown-ups’ seating arrangement, but it doesn’t have to be any less special. Turn your kids’ table into a canvas for a colorful, creative dining experience. To do this, use craft or art paper to cover the table. Tape everything down tightly and provide crayons and colored pencils for every place setting. If you want to add some extra holiday spirit, put the drawing supplies in empty cranberry sauce and pumpkin cans. GRATITUDE MOBILES Of course, Thanksgiving isn’t just about delicious food. It’s also about reflecting on the parts of our lives we are grateful for. Teaching kids Unless you have a child auditioning for “MasterChef Junior,” you’re probably not going to let the little ones cook the turkey this Thanksgiving. Just because the kitchen might be off limits, though, doesn’t mean you can’t find a few creative ways to make the holiday extra special for your kids or grandkids. Spice up Thanksgiving with these fun, family-friendly activities.

about gratitude is the most valuable Thanksgiving lesson. Bring that concept to life with a gratitude mobile.

Grab some colored paper circles — or cut them out — and have your children write down things that they are thankful for. Punch holes in the tops of the circles and run string through them. Tie the other end of the string to a coat hanger or embroidery hoop and hang it from the ceiling. STUFF THE TURKEY GAME Want to get the kids outside so you can get to work in the kitchen? Create a Thanksgiving-themed game to get them playing outside while you get the stuffing prepped and the turkey in the oven. To create a holiday-themed “Stuff the Turkey” game, all you need is a few paper bags. We’ll bet you have some left over from shopping. Use two small bags stuffed with scrap paper to create legs and glue them to a larger bag folded to look like the body of a turkey. Now that you have your turkey, you need some balls to stuff it with. Anything soft and baseball-sized will work, even some balled-up paper. Kids will take turns trying to toss the balls into the turkey, scoring points for every shot made.

Chris Hoffman’s son said that the lack of income didn’t just limit his father — it kept him from doing anything . That’s no way to live your last days. According to the SSA’s own figures, in 2016, there were 7,400 dead people on hearing waiting lists. WHAT WE CAN DO Social Security says it plans to add 500 administrative law judges and 600 new support staff, but with proposed budget cuts, you have to wonder how that will be possible. We encourage you to write or call Congress and ask them to hold off on cuts to the Social Security Administration’s operating budget. You can also ask your congress person to support an increase in the service hours of the SSA offices, which are reduced at this time. The current Administrative Law Judges, and their decision writers, are trying their hardest to provide decisions for everyone, and we commend them for it. Unfortunately, they can only do so much with the ever- tightening budget.

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Virginia has a deep, long-standing legacy of brave soldiers fighting for the cause of freedom. May we honor their memories this month and always. To all men and women in uniform, happy Veterans Day, and thank you for your service!




CAKE • 1 cup salted butter, softened • 1 cup granulated sugar • 1 cup packed light brown sugar • 4 large eggs • 1½ cups canned pumpkin • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan • 1 tablespoon baking powder • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice • ½ teaspoon baking soda • ½ teaspoon salt • 1 cup whole buttermilk • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans • Shortening CANDIED PECANS • ¼ cup granulated sugar • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice • Pinch of salt • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans BROWN SUGAR ICING • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. With a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. Add pumpkin and vanilla, beating just until blended. 2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in chopped pecans. Spoon batter into a greased (with shortening) and floured 12-cup Bundt pan. 3. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. While cake bakes, prepare candied pecans. pie spice, and a pinch of salt over medium heat. Add 1 cup roughly chopped pecans and cook, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the pecans, 7–8 minutes. (Sugar will appear grainy before it melts and coats pecans.) With cooking spray, lightly grease wax paper. Spread the pecans onto wax paper and let cool for 20 minutes. 4. Prepare the candied pecans: In a heavy saucepan, stir together ¼ cup granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon pumpkin 5. Prepare the brown sugar icing: In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup packed light brown sugar, ⅓ cup heavy cream, and 1 cup salted butter to a boil, stirring often. Boil, stirring often, for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Gradually whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth.

PUMPKIN SPICE BUNDT WITH BROWN SUGAR ICING AND CANDIED PECANS This recipe was contributed by Williamsburg attorney, Kelli King, Esq.

• ⅓ cup heavy cream • ¼ cup salted butter • 1 cup powdered sugar • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Koda, Christopher’s 9-month-old German shepherd, is our legal assistant. Isn’t he a handsome boy?

6. Spoon icing over top of cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Top with candied pecans while icing is still soft.

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1315 Jamestown Rd. Suite 102 Williamsburg, VA 23185


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INSIDE this issue

I Have a Question for You page 1

Thank You Veterans! page 3 Pumpkin Spice Bundt page 3

3 Family Activities for Thanksgiving page 2 What to Do About the SSD Backlog page 2

The Las Vegas Tragedy page 4


On October 4, 2015, my husband, Brandon, and I attended the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. We flew out to Las Vegas a couple of days before, just seven months after we welcomed our twin boys into this world. We were eager to get away and go somewhere we could have fun and relax. When we got off the plane in Las Vegas, one of the first things we noticed was advertising for the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. As huge country music fans, we immediately decided to buy tickets online to attend the last day of the concert. When we arrived at the concert venue, we were surrounded by hundreds of people who were all enjoying the concert. They were singing, dancing, and having the time of their lives. The energy at the concert was hard to describe, but everyone was so full of life and excitement. I remember feeling as though I didn’t want the concert to end, and I wanted to come back next year and the following years to attend this concert. I didn’t want this to

be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When the horrible news broke of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, I thought, “No way this is true!” My heart instantly sank, and I felt a rush of emotions — anger being one of them. As the death toll rose every time I heard an update, I felt more and more anger. I truly don’t understand why a person would want to take the lives of so many people. My heart aches for the families and loved ones affected by this horrible tragedy. I want to raise my children in a world where they feel safe and never feel the anger and heartache that many people have experienced. Sadly, this is the reality of the world we live in, but I will teach my children to live a life of happiness. I will teach them to love one another and not to be afraid or live in fear. We all have a chance to spread happiness and joy in this world, and I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of others.


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