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When can PTSD be considered an occupational disease?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2023 | WC - Injuries And Illnesses |

According to Minnesota law, an occupational disease is a condition “peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged and due to causes in excess of the hazards ordinary of employment….” For example, for firefighters, certain types of cancer can be considered occupational diseases because they are exposed to materials known to cause cancer as part of their job duties.

It’s important to know what is considered an occupational disease in your job because if you do suffer related harm, you’ll benefit from a presumption that your condition is related to your occupation.

In what jobs is PTSD an occupational disease under Minnesota law?

In recent years, Minnesota has added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of occupational diseases for first responders like police officers, firefighters and paramedics. This list also includes corrections employees, dispatchers and others whose job often involves handling life-and-death matters and threats of violence.

If a person in a job included in the law doesn’t have a history of PTSD and is diagnosed with it, it’s “presumed to have been due to the nature of employment,” according to Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry. Like any condition covered by workers’ compensation, it has to be diagnosed by a licensed professional. It also must result from something that happened on the job. However, qualifying incidents don’t include things like being the subject of a disciplinary action, demotion, layoff or some other personnel-related event.

Why could a workers’ comp claim still be denied?

Unfortunately, insurers and employers can still dispute that a worker’s PTSD was caused by their job. However, they have to present a case to back up their denial of benefits. This could happen, for example, if there were conflicting diagnoses.

If you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease for your type of job and your workers’ comp claim has still been denied, it’s important to know that you have a right to dispute that denial. You will need to provide evidence that your condition, whether it’s physical or mental, was caused by your job – even if it was one traumatic event that occurred on the job. The more you know about your rights and your options, the better your chances are of getting the workers’ comp benefits you deserve.


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