Can Mental Health Issues Be Covered Under Workers Comp?

stressed woman with head on her desk

Some level of job-related stress is normal and even expected. However, if a job leads to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress, can those issues be covered under workers comp? Well, according to NYS Workers’ Compensation Laws, they might be.

Jobs Causing The Most Stress

As more and more members of our community are returning to somewhat normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, job-related stress is at an all-time high.  Every job has its share of stress and stressful situations, but for some jobs, higher levels of stress come with the territory. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics some of the most stressful jobs in 2021 are:

  • Physician
  • IT Manager
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Financial Manager
  • Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Lawyer
  • Surgeon
  • Compliance Officer

Workers Compensation Laws in New York State For Mental Health

Under New York State Workers Compensation Law, it can be difficult to win claims for mental stress, but it’s not impossible. The main reason such claims can be challenging is that it can be hard to prove the issues stem from the job itself. Additionally, many of the claims relate to issues centering around an increase in workload or disagreements with coworkers, which are viewed as normal and expected workplace problems.

There are some exceptions in which mental health claims were successful. These claims were centered around anxiety or depression that were the result of extreme workplace situations such as sexual harassment or racial discrimination. However, proving such illnesses are the result of the workplace and not external personal life factors are often much more complex than providing proof of physical injuries that occurred at work. The burden of finding said evidence rests solely with the claimant.

These three questions must be clearly answered for a mental health claim to be considered:

  1. Has the stress caused permanent impairment?
  2. Does clear proof exist that the cause of the stress was work-related?
  3. Was the stress over the normal level for the job?

While these three questions clarify situations in which mental health claims may have a case, there are additional factors to be aware of when making claims. Section 2(7) of the New York Workers Compensation Law states that “… a mental injury is not compensable if it arose from a lawful personnel decision involving a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, demotion, or termination taken in good faith by the employer.” In short, a person can’t just claim workers comp from a lawful disciplinary action so long as the employer’s actions weren’t malicious. These claims should be taken seriously, so this section ensures that these claims are not abused.

Call Erwin, McCane & Daly Today

If you have been subject to a work environment that is causing mental health issues with long-term effects, these cases should be taken seriously. This type of worker’s compensation case can be hard to navigate and tricky to prove, but with the help of any of our workers’ comp attorney’s from EMD Law, you’ll be sure to get the help you need.  Contact us online or call (518) 449-2245.