Denied Long-Term Disability: Living with Schizoaffective Disorder
8 Minute Read.
Meet John – a young man that suffers from Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type…and who was denied disability insurance.
John is 38 year old man that suffered from a a history of bipolar disorder with medically documented manic episodes. He was medicated for this condition at the time of disability. One time, for example, he took his brother’s car with the intention to drive to Manitoba to meet a woman he met on the Internet hours prior. He had driven for 14 straight hours before getting into a serious accident. He was flown back to Hamilton, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, treated for injuries and discharge with anti-psychotics – which changed his life for the better.
Eventually, John attended the University of Ottawa and graduated with an honors’ degree in environmental consulting. He started his first job in 2010. The position required relocation to Alberta. He worked hard for several years and was promoted in the company. He did well and was well paid – and he was happy. He started putting money into retirement savings, made great friends and was doing very well.
Unfortunately, when John was about 35 years old, he started to slowly but suddenly experience very serious mental issues – which included:
- paranoid delusions
- he felt like God was talking to him
- he had disordered and muddled thinking
- he had lack of concentration
- lack of focus
- he felt like someone was inserting thoughts in his mind
- he had symptoms of serious depression
- loss of facial expression, confusion
- he had difficulty being around others
- difficulty in the workplace and disorganized behavior
- he felt paranoid around electronic devices, including cell phones, smart phones, monitors ect
- he felt like there was no doubt he was bring watched
He explained his symptoms to his employer who suggested that John take some time off and fly back to Ontario to get help – but he never made it home.
John had a total breakdown at the Calgary airport. He felt like he was being watched. He collapsed in fear and was inconsolable. Airport arrival and departure monitors were secretively watching him. People all around him were texting about him. All he could see and focus on was the hundreds of devices in the busy airport around him.
John was gently taken by RCMP to a local hospital where he was admitted and eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. He remained in a hospital for many months, before being flown back home.
Denied by his own insurance company
In the midst of all these issues, John had applied and was denied his long-term disability benefits. He was offered his jab back out west months later, when he was released from hospital but his condition was highly unpredictable. He was accused by his disability carrier of abandoning his position.
Over the next year John lived alone on government assistance, in a tiny basement apartment. He barely had enough money for food or gas. Despite being newly medicated, he was afraid to leave home. He still felt like he was being watched. At night, John would put his iPhone in a freezer bag filled with rice, just in case he was being recorded. The rice would surely muffle the sound. No one could hear him at night.
Living with schizoaffective disorder is like living life on a roller coaster that never ends.
Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental disorder in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, and mood disorder symptoms such as depression or mania. There are typically two types of schizoaffective disorders – a bipolar type and depressive type. John was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar type.
Since September 2013, John has lived with ongoing difficulty dealing with delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, and symptoms of depression, loss of enjoyment of activities, difficulty with memory, he has been socially isolated, fearful of devices, and fearful of cell phones and recording devices. Schizoaffective disorder, like schizophrenia, is not curable. It is eminently treatable and a somewhat manageable chronic illness, however its psychotic symptoms are unpredictable. His disability carrier could have easily researched the disorder and could have easily discovered that schizoaffective disorder, bipolar, is comparable to life on a roller coaster that never ends.
Symptoms come and go. It is possible to live in peace for several days and weeks however if not properly monitored, psychotic and schizophrenic symptoms, as well as manic depressive symptoms, could strike again with overwhelming suddenness.
John sued for denied disability benefits
John sought our assistance. He found us online, filled in a contact form and met us for a free consultation. He was desperate for income. Within 24 hours our law firm sued his disability carrier.
The insurance company eventually did the right thing and together, we worked out a plan to give John the option to either have his benefits reinstated or accept a lump sum of money to invest as he saw fit.
The settlement took close to a year. In the meantime, we were able to secure CPP disability for him, which gave him a bit more money every month.
Today, John is no longer an engineer. He volunteers for several hours once a week at value village. His manager understands his condition and makes him feel comfortable. He can come in when he wants, for as long as he wants. He is now also able to go to church on Sunday mornings and walk his dog. He spends most weekends with his brother and father. John continues to live with severe social anxiety, paranoid about being in public and he remains afraid of devices, cell phones and recording devices – but now John has enough money to live, eat and pay his bills.
He is doing much, much better.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.
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