Governors Expand PTSD Coverage for First Responders

20 Jun, 2019 Nancy Grover

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Police officers, firefighters and some parole officers in Connecticut will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for work-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as of July 1. Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation making Connecticut the latest state to provide coverage for PTSD to first responders regardless of whether they sustain a physical injury.

The bill requires payers to provide benefits for up to 52 weeks after the diagnosis date, and prohibits benefits from being awarded more than four years after the qualifying event. The benefits must include any combination of: 

  • Medical treatment prescribed by a board-certified psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist
  • Temporary total incapacity benefits (i.e., wage replacement)
  • Temporary partial incapacity benefits (i.e., benefits to make up the difference between the employee’s regular wage and what he/she earns by working at a reduced capacity) 

The bill limits benefits to the first responders by “potentially offsetting their amount of weekly benefits by the amount of their other benefits, including those received from contributory and noncontributory retirement systems, Social Security, and long-term or short-term disability plans,” according to the bill’s language. “Under the bill, the officer’s or firefighter’s weekly PTSD benefits, excluding medical care payments, combined with their other benefits, cannot exceed the officer’s or firefighter’s average weekly wage. The bill also prohibits an officer or firefighter receiving PTSD benefits from receiving workers’ compensation permanent partial disability benefits.”

While paramedics and ambulance drivers are excluded from coverage, the bill calls for a study of the feasibility of expanding benefits to cover EMS personnel and Department of Corrections’ employees who are not included. The Labor and Public Employees Committee has until Feb. 2020 to conduct its analysis.

The governor’s signature comes nearly seven years after the Newtown school shootings, and almost 10 years after a police officer who witnessed a chimpanzee’s brutal attack on a woman was denied benefits for his PTSD.

“It is great to see the support legislators are providing for first responders recognizing the severity of the situation when a first responder does not have access to quality psychological care,” said Michael Coupland, chief executive officer and network medical director of the IMCS Group, Inc., which provides services to first responders with PTSD. “As a psychologist embedded in police and fire departments for 20 years I want to reassure the employer/insurance community that first responders are a resilient group, and prevention and appropriate treatment significantly mitigates the time off work and return to full active duty.”

Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown recently signed legislation to provide PTSD coverage for Oregon’s full-time firefighters, police officers, corrections and youth correction officers, parole and probation officers, and paid emergency dispatchers or 9-1-1- emergency operators who have served at least 5 years and experienced a single traumatic event.

Those seeking benefits must show “through a ponderance of persuasive medical evidence from a psychiatrist or psychologist” that their condition meets the criteria in the DSM-5 for PTSD or acute stress disorder,” the bill states.

It allows an insurer or self-insured employer to rebut the presumption “only by establishing through clear and convincing medical evidence that duties as a covered employee were not of real importance or great consequence in causing the diagnosed condition.”

The governor signed the measure last week. It takes effect on the 91st day after the regular session of the Legislature ends, June 30.

 


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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for WorkersCompensation.com. She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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