PTSD, Mental Health Issues and Disability Coverage

An Ontario private member’s bill got a recent boost in public visibility thanks to the efforts of paramedics. The bill proposes to recognize Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) automatically as a work-related injury for first responders. Paramedics participating in the annual Canadian Paramedic Memorial Ride took the opportunity to draw attention to the proposed legislation.

To the average person, the recognition just seems to make sense. Paramedics and other first responders are constantly exposed to all kinds of stress and trauma that most of us (hopefully) rarely see and it would seem inevitable that some – estimates are up to a quarter – of them would fall prey to at least some form of psychological stress as a result.

The Two-Year Review

The proposed legislation would actually change parts of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to automatically classify PTSD as a workplace injury for first responders unless there is evidence to the contrary. As the legislation stands now, if a paramedic has been diagnosed with PTSD and is off work, benefits are generally payable for a period of up to two years (if approved) but after that point, cases are re-evaluated and PTSD is no longer recognized as a workplace injury.

While this particular instance involves the WSIB, private insurance companies and both group and individual disabilities insurance policies typically include similar clauses. The definition of “disability” changes after the first two-year period of benefits and becomes much more restrictive. Your condition may not have changed, but all of a sudden the way it is viewed has.

PTSD and other Mental Health Issues

It’s no secret that it can be an uphill struggle to have PTSD and other mental health issues recognized as workplace injuries – or even recognized as disabilities at all. If paramedics have trouble getting their claims recognized, what does that say about the climate for all of these issues and the kind of struggle its victims face?

Claims for conditions which are complicated to assess, such as PTSD, are often rejected by an insurance company at first, with benefits only paid after an appeal. You need someone in your corner. Contact Petrillo Law today by calling (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

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