Should first responders be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder? State Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie) says yes, and has filed legislation that would extend these benefits.
Wray pointed to shortcomings in the current workers’ comp system that discourage officers from seeking benefits for their PTSD. The only way that officers can currently seek workers’ comp coverage for PTSD is to assert that they have mental impairments. But claiming mental impairments can be grounds for dismissal of employment, not to mention the stigma that it carries. Because of these factors, Wray claims that mental health problems are underreported in first responders.
Kevin Lawrence of the Texas Municipal Police Association weighed in as well, citing recent incidents in Dallas and Baton Rouge that had the potential to cause PTSD in first responders. He also pointed to the suicide rate for Texas officers, the highest in the nation. By passing HB-1983, officers would have access to compensation for their mental health problems without having to risk their own financial security or face the stigma of their peers.
Mental Health Workers’ Comp Claims
There are three broad categories for mental health claims under workers’ comp: physical-mental, mental-physical and mental-mental. PTSD would fall under the mental-mental category, the hardest of the three to prove. And unfortunately, many states require traumatic events causing PTSD to be unusual for the line of work that caused the condition. This, tragically, often hurts first responders who have suffered traumatic events. You should not have to suffer alone with PTSD. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you fight for the benefits you need.