Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover Mental Illnesses?


Posted by: Chris

The workers’ compensation system was established to provide for individuals that are injured at work. But, does workers’ compensation only cover employees that have suffered physical injuries? It depends.

According to 85A OK Stat § 85A-13 (2016), employees cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits for a mental illness unless it is related to a physical injury sustained at work. For example, an employee that develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being involved in a catastrophic car accident while on the job could be compensated for his mental illness. However, an employee who is working in a stressful work environment who is diagnosed with depression or anxiety does not qualify for worker’s compensation benefits since there has been no physical injury.

If you believe that you have a mental illness caused by a work-related physical injury, it’s important to see a psychologist or psychiatrist as soon as possible. A qualified healthcare provider must evaluate your condition and confirm that you have a mental illness or you will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, you must be able to provide evidence that clearly shows the link between your mental illness and the physical injury that occurred at work. This evidence typically includes medical records and statements from your healthcare provider.

Limitations on Compensation For Mental Illnesses

In general, an employee with a physical injury can be compensated for up to 104 weeks, but the rules are different when it comes to mental illnesses. Most workers that have mental illnesses will only receive workers’ compensation benefits for 26 weeks, but this can be extended to a maximum of 52 weeks in some cases.

Death Benefits For Mental Illnesses

If an employee is killed because of a physical injury, his family is typically compensated for their loss. But, what happens when an employee’s death is caused by a mental illness? It depends on when the physical injury that led to the mental illness happened. The law states that the family members will only be compensated if the victim’s death occurs within one year from the date of the physical injury. Using the example above, the family members would be compensated if the victim with PTSD died as a result of this mental illness within one year from the date of the car accident.

If you have a mental illness that was caused by a work-related accident, speak to one of our attorneys as soon as possible. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation for your mental and physical pain. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.