Minnesota Enhances Work Comp Coverage for PTSD and Increases Certain Benefits for Everyone

The 2018 Minnesota Legislature passed a bill making critical substantive changes to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Statute.  These changes help employees in certain industries establish their PTSD diagnosi while also increasing certain payouts available to everyone.

PTSD Presumed to be Occupational Disease for Certain Occupations

In cases involving claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in certain occupations, the diagnosis of PTSD is presumed to be an occupational disease that is the result of the nature of the employment.  This provision is effective for injuries on or after January 1, 2019.

⇒ Occupations include a worker employed on active duty as a licensed police officer; firefighter; paramedic; emergency medical technician; licensed nurse employed to provide emergency medical services outside of a medical facility; public safety dispatcher; officers employed by the state or a political subdivision at a corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility; sheriff or full-time deputy sheriff; or member of the Minnesota State Patrol.

⇒ The presumption is rebuttable by the employer or insurer by presenting “substantial factors.” However, substantial factors are not defined by the statute.  Any substantial factors used to rebut this presumption and are known to the employer or insurer at the time of denial of liability must be communicated to the employee on the denial of liability.

⇒ PTSD as a result of disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement, or similar action taken in good faith by the employer is not considered to be an occupational disease.

Benefit Changes for injuries occurring on or after October 1, 2018

The legislature also upped the ante for employers who are on the hook for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) and Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits:

⇒ The 225-week cap on Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits increases to 275 weeks.

⇒The dollar values in the compensation schedule for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits increases by 5%.

The rebuttable presumption of retirement at 67 regarding payment of Permanent Total Disability (PTD) has been repealed and PTD is now payable until age 72. If an employee is injured after age 67, the employee will receive PTD benefits for five year.

Bottom Line

The new legislative changes for resumed PTSD  for occupations named in the statute essential puts the burden on the employer/insurer to disprove the diagnosis of PTSD.  In addition, the employer/insurer will be required to disclose the substantial reasons for a denial therefore extensive initial investigation will be necessary to defend claims of PTSD in certain occupations.

The new legislation changes the structure and time limits for various benefits, therefore employer/insurers need to be aware of increases in potential exposure for workers compensation benefits.