Does Workers Compensation Cover Psychological Treatment?
Serious workers compensation injuries are life changing. They cause pain. They affect your ability to make a living. It is not unusual that a serious work injury can cause you to need some treatment for depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition.
Sometimes, you may develop a mental health condition without suffering a physical injury. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a classic example of this situation. When someone is exposed to a traumatic event while performing their job, that individual may develop PTSD.
As it currently stands, Georgia workers compensation law covers mental health conditions in one of these situations but not the other. This article will discuss the Georgia’s workers compensation rules for coverage of mental health conditions.
Does Georgia’s workers compensation law cover depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions which develop from a physical injury?
Generally, yes. When you have a physical injury and then become depressed as a result of that physical injury, treatment for the depression or other mental health condition is generally covered. Several different factors can lead to depression or another mental health condition arising after a serious work injury:
- Inability to work as a result of an injury
- Limitations on activities as a result of the injury
- The traumatic event of the injury itself
If you develop depression or another mental health condition in this situation, you will likely need to see a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor. Because of the Georgia workers compensation rules about payment of medical treatment, the treatment will need to be provided by an authorized medical provider. If you do not have this, then the workers compensation insurance company will likely be able to avoid paying for the treatment.
What happens if I develop a mental health condition as a result of my work but do not have a physical injury?
Unfortunately, this happens fairly often. Stress or other work factors may lead you to develop a mental health condition that needs treatment. Sometimes, that stress comes from one particularly traumatic event.
Unfortunately, Georgia’s workers compensation law currently does not cover a mental health condition that develops when an individual does not suffer a physical injury. This leaves out many people who develop disabling conditions that require medical treatment as a result of their job.
This creates some strange situations. Someone who develops PTSD as a result of an extremely traumatic event but suffers no physical injury does not get workers compensation coverage for that PTSD. But, an individual who has a physical injury and develops PTSD could have that PTSD covered under workers compensation, even if the event was not nearly as traumatic.
I think Georgia law on this point should be changed. I do not think it makes any sense that someone who suffers a clearly traumatic event like being robbed at gunpoint should not be covered for the psychological condition that they develop just because they are not physically injured as well.
But this is the law as it currently stands in Georgia. Until it is changed by the Georgia legislature or Georgia courts, you are not going to be able to get coverage for that psychological condition unless you also suffered a physical injury at work.
What if I have questions?
Georgia’s workers compensation law can be very confusing. Coverage for mental health conditions is probably one of the more confusing parts of that law. If you have questions, I am happy to talk to you for free to see if I can clear them up. Just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit this form to set up a time to do that.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
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