Workers’ compensation insurance is a crucial safety net for employed Americans. Even seemingly simple jobs like office work or retail customer service could result in someone suffering severe injuries that leave them needing health care and without income.
Many people who need to claim workers’ compensation benefits experience a major incident on the job, like a fall or a machinery malfunction, which can leave them with serious injuries. Other people may acquire physical injuries over time, like carpal tunnel.
However, not all work-related injuries are physical. People could also suffer psychological damage because of their jobs. Those who witness workplace accidents, an act of violence or a similar traumatic incident could develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Can you apply for workers’ compensation benefits due to PTSD?
Mental health claims have more complex rules
Getting benefits for physical injury is a straightforward process. You just need to be able to show that the injury or medical condition is the direct result of your job responsibilities or something that happened at work.
The rules are a bit different when it comes to mental health conditions. You may need to show that you experienced something extraordinary and unusual on the job, such as witnessing an accident where a co-worker lost their life. Alternatively, you may also be able to claim benefits if you became traumatized after suffering a physical injury yourself while working.
If you are the victim of some kind of criminal activity on the job or if you endured workplace abuse or harassment because of your sex or race, the trauma that results could eventually lead to a successful benefits claim. You will need a formal diagnosis and will need to connect that diagnosis to experiences you have had on the job in order to get benefits.
Mental health conditions can be absolutely debilitating
PTSD is a serious mental health condition that sometimes responds to treatment but can also prove intractable.
You may require significant medical support to address your symptoms. It could also be prohibitively difficult for you to go into a triggering environment, like the place where you got hurt before. Especially if you require treatment and you cannot work, workers’ compensation could help protect you.
Understanding your rights as an injured worker can make it easier for you to claim workers’ compensation benefits.