Workers’ Comp for Mental Illness

Workers Comp for Mental Illness

What Is Workers’ Comp for Mental Illness?

Have you sustained an injury at work? Has your mental health been negatively affected by your job duties? Call now or use the online contact form below to reach an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in your area.

Mental disorders and psychological impairments can interfere with anyone’s quality of life. They can also make performing job duties virtually impossible. Fortunately, if you have developed some type of job-related mental illness, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides financial compensation to individuals who have sustained injuries at work. Still, workers’ comp operates pursuant to state law. If you have suffered an on-the-job injury or developed occupational illness, it is critical to understand the law where you live and work.

What Mental Illnesses Workers’ Comp Usually Covers

Work can be a stressful place that can take a tremendous toll on a person’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. When you are performing your job duties, you may develop anxiety, depression, stress or post-traumatic stress disorder. While workers’ comp benefits typically go to workers who have sustained a physical injury at work, they are also often available to those who have developed a work-related mental illness.

If you qualify for workers’ comp benefits for your work-related mental illness, you may be eligible for both wage replacement and medical expense reimbursement. Before approval, though, you likely must demonstrate some connection between your job and your mental illness.

The Psychological Evaluation Process

If you suspect you have developed a mental illness or a psychological disorder because of your job, you must notify your employer. Your employer may then refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis or treatment. In some places, a person can pick the professional he or she sees. In others, the employer or his or her workers’ comp insurer assigns one. While state laws may allow you to change providers, you should check as this varies from state to state.

Regardless of where you live, you are likely to go through a psychological evaluation as part of your workers’ comp claim. This evaluation gives your employer’s workers’ comp insurer the information needed to either approve or deny your claim.

Your psychological evaluation has three purposes:

  • Diagnosing your mental illness
  • Determining the extent of your mental illness
  • Investigating where you developed your mental illness

The Format of the Psychological Evaluation

The exact format of your psychological evaluation probably depends on where you live, your employer’s insurer’s requirements and the mental health professional’s method.

Nevertheless, most psychological evaluations are structured like therapy sessions. That is, you are likely to meet with a psychologist or another mental health professional in a therapy-like setting. The therapist will probably ask you to sit down and have a conversation.

During this conversation, the mental health professional may ask you a series of questions. Expect the professional to listen carefully to your responses and to make notes.

Prepare yourself to provide information about one or more of the following topics:

  • Your overall mental health
  • Personal mental health history
  • Your family’s mental health history
  • Explaining your personality
  • Your ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Your job and job duties

The Aftermath of the Psychological Evaluation

When your psychological evaluation concludes, the mental health professional discusses your mental health with you. He or she may diagnose you with mental illness and recommend treatment options.

The evaluator also prepares a report for your employer’s workers’ comp insurer. This report details whether your mental illness occurred at work or somewhere else. The insurer should then review the report and decide whether you need to pay your claim in full.

Your Legal and Privacy Rights

It is perfectly normal to feel some trepidation about discussing your mental health with an evaluator who intends to report his or her findings to your employer. Luckily, privacy laws and professional responsibility provide you with extensive protections.

Because mental health evaluators are licensed professionals, they are bound by a code of ethics. This code prohibits the evaluator from divulging your conversation with others. Most states also have laws that protect your privacy.

Consequently, you should not have to worry about a mental health professional discussing sensitive information with your employer or its workers’ comp insurer. Instead, the professional should only relay his or her findings, which are necessary for processing your workers’ comp claim.

The Intersection of Mental and Physical Health

If you have developed a mental illness at work, you may also have a physical injury. This is particularly true if you have PTSD that stems from an on-the-job physical injury. If so, you may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits for both your physical injury and mental illness. That is, your mental illness claim should not affect your physical injury claim. If a mental health professional decides you do not have a mental illness, you are probably still eligible for workers’ comp for your physical injury. The reverse is likely also true.

Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer

Workers’ comp law is both state-specific and complex. Qualifying for workers’ comp benefits is not always easy. In fact, providing a connection between your job and your mental illness can be difficult. An experienced local lawyer can investigate your mental illness and help you complete the paperwork necessary to receive workers’ comp benefits. He or he can also help you prepare for your psychological evaluation.

If you receive a denial of your initial worker’s comp claim, your attorney can help you through the appeals process. A skilled workers’ comp attorney can also connect you with professionals who can help you through the recovery process. You do not want to leave your mental health or your professional future to chance. After all, if you have a serious mental disorder, you may never be able to work again.

While returning to work can be challenging, a good lawyer may boost your odds of rejoining the workforce.

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