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Can You Receive Workers Compensation For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

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If you work in a fast-paced, high-risk environment -- such as a police or fire department, prison, or emergency room -- you may occasionally find yourself feeling stressed, depressed, or jumpy. But when these feelings begin to overshadow your normal mental state, it could be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Are you able to submit a workers compensation claim to your employer for the infliction of this emotional distress, or is it merely an unfortunate side effect of a high-stress job? Read on to learn more about your options if your PTSD is making it difficult to continue working.

What jobs may be eligible for PTSD workers comp payments?

Some states are considering legislation that would allow certain high-risk professions to receive workers comp if diagnosed with job-related PTSD. Other states already have these types of provisions for specific categories of workers, while a few states don't recognize PTSD as a work-related injury at all.

However, even in the states that permit workers compensation claims for PTSD, there must be a certain identifiable event that led to the PTSD diagnosis -- such as a particularly traumatic fire or rescue, a death, or a murder. This traumatic event (and its aftereffects on your mental and physical health) must be reported to your employer relatively quickly after its occurrence, as your claim will be denied if it is submitted by your employer once the fairly brief statute of limitations expires.

What are your options if you can't currently receive workers comp?

Even if your PTSD does not render you eligible for workers comp benefits in your state, you may still be able to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits through the federal government. And depending upon your employer's insurance policy, you could also receive short-term or long-term disability payments, which generally cover a certain portion of your income while you are unable to work. 

Another option -- particularly if you work in a job that is not traditionally a high-stress position -- is to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. Unlike federal, state, or employer disability payments, a personal injury lawsuit may be able to recover enough to pay for past, current, and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other ongoing expenses. 

If you believe you're suffering from PTSD and have reported this to your employer, consult an experienced workers compensation attorney as soon as you can. Even if you're unable to receive workers comp benefits, there may be other legal options available.