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Can I Obtain Worker's Comp for Stress and Anxiety?

Can I Obtain Worker's Comp for Stress and Anxiety?

Everyone deals with at least a small amount of stress from work, whether due to a boss with high standards, a demanding workload, or inconsiderate coworkers. These day-to-day difficulties are expected, even if unwelcome. More than half of overwrought Americans say work issues contribute to their stress. When the problem spills over into anxiety or mood disorders, can you turn to workers’ compensation insurance for help? That depends on how severe your stress is, and what caused it.

About Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Stress

Workers’ comp claims for breaks, sprains, or other serious wounds are often challenged despite clear proof of the accident and damage. When it comes to mental injury claims, victims have less tangible proof to support them. Yet, New Mexico workers’ comp laws only allow compensation for stress and anxiety for employees who can prove that they have suffered substantial harm directly related to a stressful episode at work. If your benefits have been denied or withheld by an insurer, we recommend bringing an experienced workers’ comp attorney onto your case.

What Benefits Can I Receive?

All workers’ comp awards cover medical and treatment-related expenses to help the injured employee regain their health. With mental health claim, the victim is also eligible for indemnity benefits, or compensation for missed work or loss of ability to perform their job. Insurers offer the following benefits to mental health claimants:

  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
  • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

Two Types of Mental Health Claims

If you’re suffering mental complications that are interfering with your ability to engage in day-to-day actions, treatments are available to help. Many of them are expensive, which may lead you to wonder whether you’re eligible for workers’ comp. Mental illnesses can also be caused by circumstances unrelated to work. New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation Guidebook defines the cause and circumstances of eligible mental impairment claims.

Primary mental impairment refers to an event that affected an employee’s mental health but did not necessarily result in physical injury. If the victim’s mental or emotional capabilities decline as a result of the trauma, they may be able to file for workers’ comp benefits. The event must be:

  • Psychologically traumatic
  • Not typical to the field/position
  • Severe enough that it would traumatize another, similar worker
  • Not related to punitive measures including firings

Therefore, a slow buildup of stress or emotional difficulty that cumulates in mental illness will not be covered by worker’s comp insurance, even if the victim’s job is 100% responsible.

Secondary mental impairment, on the other hand, is the result of a physical injury that happened on the job. Disability, even when temporary, can trigger changes in one’s mental state. These changes may outlast the disability, qualifying the victim for further workers’ compensation benefits.

Proving Eligibility

In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits for anxiety, you must first prove that your difficulties stem from work-related issues. You will likely need a formal diagnosis from a mental health professional to support your case. Conditions like depression, generalized anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often impact workplace performance—so documentation of changes in productivity and capability may also help you make your case.

What Next?

If you are suffering from severe stress or anxiety due to traumatic work events, you may have a right to seek recompense through workers’ comp. Mental illness can decrease your productivity and/or create obstacles to certain job duties. It can also decrease the quality of your non-work life. If you need help after an on-the-job shock, make sure you get in touch with a knowledgeable New Mexico workers’ compensation attorney.

Contact Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law today to discuss your case with our Albuquerque workers' compensation lawyer.

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