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Photo of David Dopkin
Photo of David Dopkin

PTSD diagnosis has prison guard seeking disability benefits

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2014 | Social Security Disability Benefits for Mental Conditions

In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at a very interesting case out of the state of Illinois concerning one man’s quest for disability benefits after being diagnosed with a very serious mental condition that has compromised his ability to perform the job he has held for several years.

While the story concerns disability benefits at the state level rather than the federal level (i.e., Social Security Disability benefits), it does serve to illustrate the uphill battle that many people in this position commonly face.

The 35-year-old man, we’ll call him Brad, has been employed as a prison guard at the state’s largest prison for several years, performing his job in accordance with expectations. However, that all changed in 2011 after his brother was convicted of the gruesome murders of his family.

In the aftermath of a long and painful trial, Brad began experiencing crippling anxiety and mental anguish while working at the prison, as the constant exposure to inmates caused him to think constantly about his brother who is now incarcerated outside the state.

“It’s the (prison) environment. It weighs on you,” he said of his ordeal. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this.”

As it turns out, Brad was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that the Department of Veterans affairs states is typically associated with such reoccurring symptoms as strong feelings of anxiety or constant danger, flashbacks and depression to name only a few. Indeed, medical experts have indicated that soldiers, victims of sexual assault and those who have been traumatic experiences are frequently diagnosed with PTSD.

In the aftermath of this diagnosis, Brad filed a disability application with the state, which if approved, would pay him half his salary for seven years via funds from Illinois’ State Employees Retirement System.

While his application has yet to be approved, Brad has already encountered some skepticism concerning the validity of his claim. As in all cases like these, this is truly unfortunate as those passing judgment are lacking a full understanding of his individual circumstances and just how difficult it can be to manage a serious mental disability.

Brad is currently on unpaid leave from the prison, but is able to make ends meet via various part-time occupations, including work as a barber and police officer.

If you would like to learn more about securing Social Security Disability benefits for mental conditions, consider speaking with an experienced attorney dedicated to providing the assistance you need and deserve.

Source: The Belleville News-Democrat, “‘It weighs on you’: Prison guard brother seeks PTSD payout,” George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, Feb. 8, 2014