Can I get workers’ comp benefits for mental health issues?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

When you think of a workplace injury, physical accidents or trauma likely come to mind first. However, the toll that certain jobs can take on mental health is very real. For example, many Philadelphia blue-collar jobs come with inherent stresses, but sometimes, work environments can become so stressful that they cause mental health problems.

If you’re struggling with any mental health condition due to your job, you might wonder if you’re eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The answer is likely yes, but specific legal situations and requirements must be met first.

Physical injury causing mental health issues

Suppose you sustain a physical workplace injury, like a back injury from a fall, and subsequently develop conditions like depression or PTSD. In that case, you can claim benefits for the mental health impacts. In these situations, the physical injury is the primary cause, and the psychological condition is a direct consequence. As long as the mental health issue can be directly linked to the physical workplace injury, workers’ compensation benefits could cover treatment and lost wages.

Mental distress causing physical injury

Severe work-related stress, harassment or trauma that leads to physical manifestations like heart attacks, migraines or ulcers can also qualify for coverage. In these cases, psychological distress is the primary factor, triggering physical symptoms or conditions. If a medical report can establish a clear connection between work-related mental anguish and your physical ailment, you may be entitled to compensation.

Psychological trauma leading to mental health conditions

Purely psychological injuries with no physical component may be covered if caused by extraordinarily abnormal working conditions like workplace violence, disasters or prolonged abuse. These claims can be challenging to substantiate, as the injury is entirely mental or emotional. You must demonstrate that the psychological injury resulted from truly abnormal circumstances beyond typical job duties.

Strengthening your claim

There are key steps to take to help give your mental health claim the best legal chance:

  • Seek an official diagnosis from a mental health service
  • Carefully document any relevant workplace incidents or stressors
  • Provide written notice to your employer
  • Seek legal representation

Even with a legitimate claim, getting it approved can be difficult because mental health cases generally face higher scrutiny than physical ones do. If your claim is denied or benefits terminated prematurely, you have the legal right to appeal with the help of a skilled legal team.