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Can You Get Workers' Comp for PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects many working Americans, and in many cases, workers’ comp can potentially cover their symptoms.

According to the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD in their lifetimes, which can stand in direct opposition to earning a living wage. The workers’ compensation system is designed to accommodate persons with PTSD, which can affect individuals in various ways.

So how can you get workers’ comp for your PTSD? Here’s a general overview:

You Don’t Have to Be a Veteran to Have PTSD

You may think that you’d have to survive some sort of war zone in order to have a legitimate workers’ compensation claim for PTSD. Wrong. While PTSD does affect many military service members, it also affects those who suffer traumatic events, either as adults or as children. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that about 5.2 million adults will have PTSD during a given year, and even more will suffer traumatic events.

If you’re the victim of rape, molestation, childhood physical abuse, physical attack, or even being threatened with a weapon, you may develop PTSD.

For Workers’ Comp, PTSD Must Be ‘Work-Related’

Most claims for workers’ comp relating to PTSD fall into two categories:

  • PTSD which is brought on by a traumatic experience while in the scope of employment (for example, cops witnessing deaths, teachers witnessing school shootings, etc.); or
  • PTSD due to out-of-work trauma which is triggered by circumstances at work.

The former line of claims is somewhat easier to spell out in a workers’ comp claim, since trauma while on the job is the direct cause of the physical and mental symptoms associated with PTSD. However, workers’ comp only handles “work-related” injuries, so you must prove that there is a sufficient legal link between your current symptoms and your work conditions. And each state has its own standards for determining whether your PTSD claim is work-related enough to be eligible for compensation.

Varying State Standards

Similar to filing a workers’ comp claim based on depression, PTSD-related workers’ comp claims have to contend with skeptical insurance agents and claims evaluators. Especially if you claim your PTSD symptoms were triggered by a work event (and their origin is a childhood trauma), you may have a hard time proving that the work event was “material” or even “substantially related” to your symptoms.

These nebulous standards are just one reason why you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your PTSD claim.

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