Not always felt immediately after a tragic event or a number of traumatic experiences, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental injury that is not always recognized by the Minnesota workers’ compensation system.
Defined as a mental condition that produces symptoms of:
• Extreme anxiety
• Uncontrollable thoughts about the trauma experienced
• Nightmares and flashbacks
PTSD can take over a person’s life and make it difficult or impossible to function at home and on the job.
The coverage by workers’ compensation systems around the country is uneven at best. For example, the state of Florida allows workers that get work-related PTSD to have medical coverage, but no paid time off for treatment. That may change in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry currently denies workers’ compensation coverage for mental stress that causes a mental injury but does make a narrow exception for some PTSD injuries that happened after 2013.
A New Development
There may be a positive development on the way for Minnesota’s workers. A bill to officially change the designation of PTSD to “a presumptive, on-the-job injury” was introduced in the Spring legislative session. Supporters of the bill state that it will promote job retention, especially in first responder professions such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and police.
The ability to have workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD may even save lives of those affected. Workers injured on the job have the right to access care and compensation whether the injury is physical or mental.