Kunkel Law Firm - January 2020

JANUARY 2020 KunkelCase Files 800-467-5272 • www.KunkelLawFirm.com • GKunkel@KunkelLawFirm.com

FROM THE DESK OF

ARE YOUR ‘HEALTHY’ NEWYEAR’S RESOLUTIONS DOOMEDTO FAIL?

Gregory Kunkel, Esq.

HAPPY NEW YEAR’S!

As I write this month’s column, we are quickly approaching the end of 2019 and anticipating the joys and challenges that the new year will bring. On a personal note, 2020 will mark my 32nd year practicing law and the seventh year since Kunkel Law Firm was established. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to represent clients throughout western Pennsylvania in workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, and employment rights cases this past year, and I look forward to continuing to provide quality legal representation to injured and disabled workers in 2020. It is incredibly gratifying to help individuals obtain the benefits they are entitled to receive under the law. Most of all, I would like to thank our clients for their continued support and trust that they place in our firm. I am especially honored and grateful for the trust so many of you expressed in referring family and friends in their time of need. I wish all of our clients and friends a happy and prosperous 2020.

How to Upgrade Your Goals for 2020

When January hits, it’s easy to tell yourself that last year’s holiday treats and days of sitting on the couch marathoning Hallmark Christmas movies are things of the past. Every time a new year arrives, a fresh start comes with it, which is probably why New Year’s resolutions are so popular, particularly in the health and fitness space. That said, it’s hard to ignore the dismal statistics. According to U.S. News & World Report, a heartbreaking 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. So what are we doing wrong? Diet and exercise experts suggest it might not be the concept of making resolutions that’s faulty, but the particular resolutions we choose. To set yourself up for success in 2020, check out these smart resolution swaps below.

DON’T RESOLVE TO EAT LESS.

DO RESOLVE TO EAT MORE VEGGIES.

–Gregory

The goal to “eat less” is not only vague (where does one start?) but it can also lead to disordered eating when taken too far. Instead, try setting yourself up for a healthy long-term diet by eating more of a nutrient-dense food group. Your vitamin intake will go up, and you’ll be too full to eat that second slice of cake. “We’re big fans of goals that start with ‘eat more,’” Lauren Slayton, the director of the nutrition counseling service

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be easier to stick to, and once you have a streak going, you can move your goal back another 15 minutes until you reach the ideal amount of rest!

like age, gender, and height, one person’s healthy, ideal weight can be another person’s underweight or overweight. Instead of resolving to lose a set number of pounds this year, aim to bring your body fat percentage into the “fitness” range for your gender and age group. Websites like BMI-Calories.com can help you calculate your current body fat and give you a reasonable goal to shoot for.

Foodtrainers, told TheHealthy.com. If you already have plenty of vegetables in your diet but are still struggling to eat healthily, try resolving to eat more fruit and probiotic foods, or drink more water.

DON’T RESOLVE TO BE MORE ORGANIZED.

DON’T RESOLVE TO LOSE WEIGHT.

DO RESOLVE TO MEDITATE EVERY DAY.

DO RESOLVE TO REACH A HEALTHY BODY FAT PERCENTAGE.

Resolving to get organized without a road map to get there is setting yourself up for failure. If you’ve always been prone to clutter and procrastination, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to change your decades-long habits and become a neat freak all at once. Instead, focus on one area of your life you want to organize, like keeping your desk mess- free, or resolve to change your mindset by adding meditation to your daily routine. According to psychology professor Susan K. Whitbourne, mental and physical clutter are psychologically linked. If you can get your mind organized with a few minutes of peaceful meditation each day, it will be easier to manage the rest of your life.

DON’T RESOLVE TO GET 8 HOURS OF SLEEP.

As the body-positivity movement is constantly reminding us, there is no one- size-fits-all number on the scale that we should strive for. Depending on factors

DO RESOLVE TO GO TO BED 15 MINUTES EARLIER.

It’s hard to change a habit, which is why most people who set ambitious sleep goals are doomed to fail. If you normally go to bed at midnight but need to hit the sack at 10 p.m. in order to get your full eight hours, it will be extremely difficult to shift your routine overnight to make that happen. Instead, try resolving to go to bed just 15 minutes earlier. Such a small change to your routine should

If you’re in the appropriate age bracket, Social Security may play a major role in your finances. So, it’s important to know how Social Security will be changing in 2020. TRUST FUND Unless Congress takes some drastic actions in the coming months, the current excess trust fund revenue will be depleted by the year 2034. If that happens, Social Security will only be able to pay 79% of the promised benefits from ongoing payroll taxes. You may need to think about what your financial plan would be like with 21% less income. RETIREMENT AGE If you haven’t reached retirement yet, this one is important to consider. If you were born after 1959, the full retirement age is now 67 for you. You’ll still be able to start taking some benefits at age 62, but they’ll be at reduced monthly payments. COST OF LIVING Low inflation means that Social Security benefits will only see a minor cost of living increase. This year, it’s expected to be around 1.6%. It’s not major, but if you’re living off Social Security alone, every penny is important. SOCIAL SECURITY IN 2020 Know What’s Changing

MAXIMUM BENEFITS Those near the top of the Social Security income scale in 2019 will see an increase in their maximum payout in 2020. The maximum payout for an individual will be capped at $2,861 per month. That translates to $34,332 per year, so consider how that may impact your finances. TAXES How much your benefits are taxed depends on your household income levels. For example, 50% of your benefits will be taxed if you make between $25,000–$34,000 individually or $32,000–$44,000 for married couples. If you’re above that income bracket, then 85% of your benefits will be taxable.

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CTRL, ALT, DELETE YOUR CLUTTER Tips for National Clean Up Your Computer Month

ORGANIZE YOUR FILES Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need. BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important files without having to worry about how much room is left. CLEAN UP SPACE Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check

your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin — it’s easy to forget just how much goes in there.

Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order. START BY DUSTING Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removing most of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean them better. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing them back into your computer.

Inspired by FoodNetwork.com

Take a Break!

EASY TOMATO SOUP

Who doesn’t love a bowl of tomato soup on a cold winter’s day? This recipe packs a lot more flavor—and a lot fewer additives— than your average store-bought soup without requiring hours of hard labor over the stove.

Ingredients

Directions

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2 tbsp coconut oil 4 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 28-oz can roasted and diced tomatoes (Muir Glen Organic is a good brand) 1 cup chicken broth 8.5 oz coconut milk

1. In a skillet over mediumheat, sauté leeks in coconut oil until softened and translucent, about 7–10 minutes. 2. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Remove fromheat. 3. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée entire can of tomatoes, including juice, until smooth. 4. Add sautéed leeks and garlic and purée again. 5. 5. Transfer purée to a saucepan and add chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then drop to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. 6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

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After losing an article of clothing from a dry cleaner, most would say “c’est la vie” and move on. At most, someone might leave a bad review and ask for a few dollars to cover the loss, but for one administrative law judge, that wasn’t enough. He decided instead to launch an all-out legal battle. Roy Pearson, a Washington, D.C., judge at the time, sought $54 million to cover the loss of his pants after his dry cleaner lost them. He argued that the “same-day service” sign located in the window of the dry cleaners meant that the company had to provide same-day service. However, Pearson never specified a specific time he needed his clothes returned. He also insisted that the “satisfaction guaranteed” sign meant that the cleaners had to satisfy a customer’s wishes without limit. Based on those arguments, he claimed the signs were fraudulent. INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of Gregory Kunkel, Esq. PAGE 1 How to Upgrade Your New Year’s Resolutions PAGE 1 Changes to Social Security in 2020 PAGE 2 Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 Easy Tomato Soup PAGE 3 The Curious Case of Roy Pearson’s Pants PAGE 4

Published by The Newsletter Pro • www.NewsletterPro.com

How One Judge Lost a Frivolous Lawsuit and His Dignity WhoWears the Pants? Lady Justice!

After the initial allegations, the dry cleaners scoured their business to find the pants and, to their credit, found the judge’s trousers untarnished. Even so, Pearson argued that he didn’t need to prove the pants were lost or damaged to satisfy his “satisfaction guaranteed” claim. Unfortunately for the judge, the court found his position to be ridiculous and ordered him to pay the dry cleaner’s attorneys’ fees. In response, Pearson sought that his own attorneys’ fees be covered to oppose this motion. In the end, Pearson did pay the dry cleaner’s legal fees, but the case isn’t the only thing he lost. The verdict also cost the judge his job and any semblance of professional dignity. Ten years after the case closed, the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility

sought a 90-day suspension. As the board put it, Pearson “failed to conduct an objective appraisal of the legal merits of his position. He made and continues to make arguments that no reasonable attorney would think had even a faint hope of success on the legal merits.” From a legal standpoint, we’d call this judge’s behavior “dissatisfaction guaranteed.”

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