Gambling addiction is a major addictive illness, with the most at-risk group being those between the ages 18 through 24. At Share Lawyers, we know how disability and illness can affect all kinds of people and we are here to help those whose disability claims that have been denied. Below is Tina’s story, a 22 year old dealing with a gambling addiction.
When she turned 18, Tina thought it would be fun to start buying lottery tickets for herself. Especially since growing up, both of her parents had “their numbers” and played every single week. They were always anxious that if they didn’t buy a ticket, then that would be the one time those number would be called. That made sense to Tina, and hey, it’d be really cool to win right?
Tina was really passionate about working with people and started a full time job at a medical supply company. Her goal was to save up enough money to enter a college program for social work. She enjoyed her work, volunteered at a retirement community on the weekends, and liked to go out and sing karaoke with her friends when she could.
For Tina, $1000 Was A Lot Of Money
After a couple years of buying a lottery ticket every week, Tina actually won $1,000. Tina had never gotten that much money at one time before and could not believe what a rush it gave her. For her, $1,000 was a lot of money - especially since she was saving up for school! She began wondering: if she just bought more tickets, then maybe she could win even more money to fully support herself through the program.
She started buying ten tickets a week so she could improve her odds and maybe win again. There were a few 20 dollar winnings, maybe 10 here and there, but nothing close to the grand she had won before. Tina started getting too anxious to wait a whole week before hearing the results, so she started buying scratch lotto tickets daily.
Tina Noticed She Was Losing Money
She noticed she was losing money, and started to distrust the random nature of the lotto. She decided it would be smarter for her to play online poker or a new sports betting feature on her phone, where she could at least be in a little bit more control.
Tina was mostly online gambling in the evenings and spare moments, but then she won a huge jackpot of $20,000. She was so excited! In her mind, one thousand had turned into twenty and if she kept playing she would be able to turn that money into twenty times more!
Tina lost her winnings within a day, and ended up owing $5,000. She really didn’t think it was that big of a deal because the odds were that she would win it back.
Controlling Food Made Her Feel Powerful
Over the next few months she began to gamble more and more frequently, with the margins between wins and losses growing exponentially. She stopped volunteering and her friends rarely saw her. She started to get crying spells and really didn’t like to eat around her gambling times. Controlling what she ate made her feel more powerful.
Her employer began to notice that she seemed down and distracted, and was on her phone quite often. Tina had no savings for school, and borrowed money from an aunt under the pretense it was for tuition. She gambled it away, thinking that she would have been able to double it.
It wasn’t until her friends finally stepped in and told her how much gambling was getting in the way of her aspirations. Tina really didn’t think she was hurting anyone with gambling. It was just her money, what business was it of theirs? They challenged her just to take a break, and she said sure, she could quit anytime she wanted.
If She Could Win - All Problems Would Be Solved
Tina was only able to be away from her online gambling for a few days. She just thought all of her problems would be solved if she could win enough to get her back into a place where she could go to school. She kept it a secret from her friends and family, and didn’t talk to anyone about it at work - but every moment she had alone was spent online gambling.
Finally, after an entire weekend of gambling and ending up thousands of dollars in debt, Tina broke down sobbing. She felt helpless and small under the enormous pressure of what seemed like an unsolvable problem.
She reached out to the aunt that lent her the money and told her she needed help. Then, she went to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. After hearing the stories of others, she realized she needed to take some time off work to deal with the depression and anxiety, as well as eating disorder behaviour that had developed around her gambling addiction problem.
Disability for Gambling Addiction Denied
Tina had the courage to approach her company and let them know how she needed to proceed with her journey to wellness. The insurance company through her employer denied her application for short-term benefits under the pretense what she was suffering, gambling addiction, did not constitute a medical disability. She was totally crushed, but her aunt was not going to give up on her. After reading the testimonials on Share Lawyers website, she helped Tina book a free consultation.
After reviewing Tina’s application for benefits the Share Lawyers team suggested that Tina needed to see a specialist in gambling addiction and helped her enter a rehabilitation program. The specialist supported Tina that she needed time off work to manage her addiction and eating disorder. Several months later, at mediation, Share Lawyers helped Tina negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. Her settlement was the right decision for Tina so she could take the time off work to recover and manage her addiction. She was able to channel her energy into other activities like cooking healthy meals and hiking. Eventually, she was able to return to work and get ready to apply to the college program she wanted.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.
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