January 13, 2024

PTSD Presumptions Could See More Action in 2024

Over the last few years, PTSD coverage in workers’ comp has continued to grow more common, especially for first responders who are far more likely to experience a traumatic event on the job.

As 2024 kicks into gear, several states have already introduced legislation surrounding PTSD for first responder populations.

Oklahoma Senate Bill 1457 would give first responders mental-only PSTD coverage to law enforcement officers, paid or volunteer firefighters, or emergency medical technicians employed on a full-time basis by a municipality, county, or the state.

Indiana House Bill 1118 would establish a state-funded first responders mental health wellness program that provides up to 10 days of compensation and mental health services for first responders diagnosed with PTSD who do not qualify for workers comp. At this time, Indiana only provides PTSD coverage to first responders if a physical injury is present, while this bill only requires a qualifying traumatic incident – defined as witnessing a death or serious injury.

Virginia House Bill 68 was introduced to add emergency dispatchers to the list of workers who can receive PTSD coverage for traumatic experiences on the job.

Arizona House Bill 2492 would expand the state’s current PTSD presumption law. The bill changes the term “policemen” with “peace officers” to broaden scope, and would specify that EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, and public safety telecommunicators also qualify. 

Additionally, the Arizona bill would add other qualifying traumatic events to the list that would enable a first responder to receive PTSD benefits, including the use of deadly force, witnessing the death of another public safety employees, and being exposed to a psychologically traumatic event or series of events.”

Rhode Island Senate Bill 2059 would adjust current PTSD presumption to include traumatic events that occur when a first responder is off duty but still involved in the protection or rescue of human life.

West Virginia House Bill 4698 would change current PTSD presumption rules so that “mental health providers” instead of “psychiatrists” can diagnose first responders with PTSD for compensability. However, the bill specifies that a mental health provider would need to be licensed and have at least a master’s degree.

Another item of note is that PTSD legislation from 2023 has now gone into effect for 2024 – and these actions go beyond first responder populations.

In 2023, Washington Senate Bill 5454 was signed into law, adding a presumptive coverage for PTSD as an occupational disease for direct care nurses, and that rule went into effect on January 19th, 2024. This law speaks to the increased likelihood for experiencing trauma in healthcare settings, as healthcare workers are four times as likely to experience workplace violence than other workers, and 18% of nurses meet the criteria for PTSD.

Also in 2023, Connecticut saw Senate Bill 913 signed into law, making PTSD a compensable injury – without the need for accompanying physical injury – for all workers, regardless of injury, if they experience a qualifying traumatic event on the job. This law went into effect January 1, 2024. As 2024 marches on, it is very likely that more PTSD bills could be introduced to state legislature, and the scope of employees it covers could expand as well.

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