Change to Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits – PTSD

As we enter a new year, new statutes are taking effect. One of those changes affects the Minnesota workers’ compensation area.

What is this new law?

Under the new statute, it is determined that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will be considered an occupational disease in certain employment areas effective for employees with dates of injury on or after Jan. 1, 2019. The changes to the workers’ compensation statute include that if an employee, from the listed occupations below, is diagnosed with a mental impairment and has not been diagnosed with PTSD previously, then the PTSD is presumptively an occupational disease that is presumed to have been due to the nature of their employment. §299A.475, https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/299A.475

Who does this law help?

These are currently the occupation areas that include the presumption as noted above:

  • Licensed police officer;
  • Firefighter;
  • Paramedic;
  • Emergency medical technician;
  • Licensed nurse employed to provide emergency medical services outside of a medical facility;
  • Public safety dispatcher;
  • Officer employed by the state or a political subdivision at corrections, detention or secure treatment facility;
  • Sheriff or full-time deputy sheriff of any county; and
  • Member of the Minnesota State Patrol.

What qualifies as PTSD?

Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15(d), “mental impairment” means a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist, as described in the most recently published edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/176.011

Can the presumption be rebutted/denied?

As is with any injury, the PTSD presumption can be denied by the Employer and Insurer should they provide substantial factors. At this time, “substantial factors” have not been statutorily defined. This reasoning must be communicated to the employee, as with any other workers’ compensation denial. What we do know is that PTSD is not considered a compensable occupational disease if it results from a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement or similar action taken in good faith by the employer.

What are the PTSD treatment parameters under MN Workers’ Compensation?

Criteria for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is provided for in Minn. Stat. 176.83 subd. 5(8). In developing such treatment criteria, the commissioner and the Medical Services Review Board shall consider the guidance set forth in the American Psychological Association’s most recently adopted Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Adults. The commissioner shall review and update the rules governing criteria for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder each time the American Psychological Association adopts a significant change to their Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of PTSD in Adults. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/176.83

Why is this important?

An onset of post-traumatic stress disorder can be random and unpredictable. It can occur right after a traumatic event or may not appear until years in the future. It can be a result of one single event, or exposure to many upsetting occurrences. This change to the law allows many more public employees access to the protection of workers’ compensation. The PTSD law for workers’ compensation in Minnesota is new and will continue to evolve. Like much of workers’ compensation law, it can be intricate and confusing. Walther Goss Law can help guide you through applying and obtaining the benefits you are entitled to. We can also help educate you with our knowledge of the workers’ compensation system and help you through the workers’ compensation process.   

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