PTSD for Emergency Responders

March 7, 2019

Historically, post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI), including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were not covered by workers’ compensation in all states; some still require that specific conditions be met in order to collect benefits. However, many states are beginning to loosen the criteria for PTSI to be covered by workers’ compensation, especially for emergency responders.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering a proposal to expand post-traumatic stress injury benefits for first responders in the state.

Can Workers Get Benefits for PTSI?

Some states do not provide workers’ compensation for mental stress injuries, while others have prerequisites to eligibility for benefits, such as a physical manifestation of the otherwise mental injury.

Workers may generally collect benefits for work-related PTSI in Pennsylvania if they can meet one of three standards: the physical/mental standard, the mental/physical standard, or the mental/mental standard.

  • Physical/Mental: This standard requires workers to prove that a physical work-related injury caused their mental injury.
  • Mental/Physical: Workers must show that a work-related psychological stimulus caused them to suffer a physical injury that endures even after the stimulus is removed.
  • Mental/Mental: PTSI claims will generally fall under this standard, which requires a worker to prove that an extraordinary psychologically traumatic event or abnormal working condition caused their PTSI.

First Responder Benefits for PTSI

Workers’ compensation cases for PTSI can be complex, because according to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, “abnormal working conditions” means that the triggering event must be extraordinary and unusual for the job.

Therefore, firefighterslaw enforcement officers, and other emergency personnel are often precluded from collecting workers’ compensation benefits for PTSI because the traumatic events they experience are part of the job, and not considered to be abnormal.

Lawmakers’ Efforts to Loosen the Workers’ Compensation Requirements for PTSI

The Republican Representative of Delaware and Chester counties is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow first responders to collect workers’ compensation for PTSI. Workers would be allowed to collect benefits for PTSI that arose from their employment, regardless of whether the condition is accompanied by physical injuries requiring medical treatment.

The Representative emphasizes the need to change both the culture and the law associated with PTSI, noting that first responders who are exposed to traumatic events are hesitant to talk about their experiences due to the stigma that is often attached. According to the Representative, whether PTSD is triggered by one shocking event or it is the result of cumulative exposure, emergency responders should be able to receive benefits for their work-related injuries.

A Democratic Representative of Lehigh County supports the bill and also plans to revive a previously-failed proposal to increase fees on speeding tickets and DUIs – a main source of funding for ambulance companies. The measure would also allocate at least $250,000 of the funds for a mental wellness and stress management program.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help First Responders with Mental Stress Injuries Obtain Benefits

If you suffer from PTSD as a result of something you experienced as an emergency responder, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We represent emergency responders in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, and we can help you obtain the benefits you deserve. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

We proudly represent workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.