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Does workers’ compensation cover mental health concerns?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Workers who are coping with medical issues related to their jobs can sometimes obtain no-cost treatment through workers’ compensation. They can also obtain disability pay that replaces a portion of their lost wages if their medical challenges leave them unable to work. The California workers’ compensation program covers the vast majority of direct-hire employees in the state. Most businesses that have workers must provide workers’ compensation coverage in case an employee gets hurt on the job or develops a work-acquired medical issue.

Despite those requirements, workers may feel uncertain about their eligibility for benefits in certain scenarios. For example, if an employee develops a mental health issue directly related to their work, they may wonder whether coverage is available for this “invisible” concern. Does workers’ compensation apply to mental health issues in addition to physical maladies?

Psychiatric conditions may qualify for coverage

The California workers’ compensation program can provide support to workers with a broad assortment of different medical challenges. The state specifically recognizes psychiatric disorders as potentially qualifying conditions. There are certain rules that apply, such as a requirement for at least six months of work history for those making claims about work-related stress issues.

Certain types of conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may directly relate to someone’s employment. A worker who experiences criminal activity or some other traumatic incident on the job might require regular counseling and be unable to work until they get their symptoms under control. PTSD can be incredibly debilitating, especially if factors related to someone’s employment environment are known triggers for their symptoms.

Other mental health issues directly related to someone’s work could also theoretically qualify someone for medical coverage and disability benefits. Historically, first responders were less likely than other applicants to get benefits for mental health challenges. Changes to state law have improved the protection of firefighters, peace officers and emergency medical professionals.

Psychiatric disorders and mental health challenges can be more difficult to document and may, therefore, prove more challenging to address via a worker’s compensation claim. Employees who understand California’s workers’ compensation rules and the medical issues they face can potentially pursue the benefits they need for their recovery and financial stability. As such, learning more about workers’ compensation coverage – and seeking legal guidance whenever necessary – may help those coping with medical challenges related to their careers.