Octuplets Mom Collected $168,000 in Disability Payments

Octuplets Mom Collected $168,000 in Disability Payments
Nadya Suleman (left) and Ann Curry
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

02/06/2009 AT 04:50 PM EST

Octuplets mom Nadya Suleman had more to worry about than the demands of her ever-growing family: records reveals she was injured in a 1999 riot at a psychiatric hospital and got disability benefits from the state of California totaling nearly $168,000.

Suleman, 33 – who said in her first TV interview that she had always dreamed of having "a huge family" – received the payments as part of a workers' compensation settlement stemming from injuries she suffered during the disturbance, which left her with chronic back pain.

On Sept. 18, 1999, while on duty as a psychiatric technician at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, Calif., Suleman responded to an emergency alert called when 20 patients rioted.

"While she attempted to hold down a female patient, she was struck on her back by a desk that was thrown by another patient in the ward," according to a document submitted last year to a state claims examiner. "She experienced the onset of immediate pain in her low back."

Permanent Damage

Doctors advised her against taking a job that involved "prolonged sitting, standing and walking," according to the workers' comp documents.

The State Compensation Insurance Fund's liability to Suleman ended on Aug. 28, 2008, after she had became pregnant with octuplets by in-vitro fertilization. (By then, she had already given birth to six other children.) Suleman had been paid $168,000 in disability benefits since August 2001.

Doctors concluded Suleman had suffered permanent damage to the lumbar area of her spine that could become more painful "with heavy lifting, repetitive bending, prolonged sitting, standing or walking."

Noting that she was pregnant, the doctors estimated 10 percent of her pain at the time was due to her pregnancy, and 90 percent was due to the injuries from the riot and a subsequent car accident.

A Second Claim

In 2001, while Suleman was leaving a doctor's office for treatment of the injury, her car was rear-ended, according to the records.

Suleman hurt her neck, back and shoulders, and filed an additional claim for workers' compensation, arguing the accident would not have occurred had she not been going for medical treatment for the earlier injury. It was unclear if she received funds for that claim.

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