PTSD Claims

PTSD Claims are covered under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder & First Responders

Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders put themselves in harm’s way every day to serve and protect their communities. First responders often see the very worst of humanity—such as fatal accidents, suicides, overdoses, domestics, homicides, sexual assaults, and death scenes, among many others. It is therefore unsurprising that first responders are uniquely susceptible to developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many people still believe that you have to shoot a suspect or be shot at in order to meet the standard for PTSD and qualify for workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability benefits. This could not be further from the truth. Most of the police officers and other first responders I have represented did not get PTSD from a single event. Rather, their PTSD came on over time, as a result of multiple traumatic events.

The Minnesota Legislature recognizes the dangers inherent in police work and firefighting, and recently adopted a presumption into the law, which recognizes this fact. This law has changed the way that work-related PTSD claims are handled in Minnesota. Now, if a first responder is diagnosed with PTSD, it is presumed to be caused by their work duties. This means that first responders no longer need to prove that their PTSD is the direct result of their work duties.

PTSD is a relatively new area of the law, just becoming compensable in Minnesota on October 1, 2013. Because PTSD workers’ compensation law is still developing, employers and insurers often deny these claims at the onset. This, however, has no bearing on the value of your claim and our ability to establish benefits on your behalf. But, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced PTSD attorney at the beginning of your claim to ensure your claim is being properly handled. It is also crucial that you seek advice from an attorney who is well-versed in both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability benefits so you can be sure you aren’t leaving any money on the table.

At Osterbauer Law Firm, we have 76 years of combined experience and understand how to establish a PTSD claim. Attorney Ashley Biermann has handled more first responder PTSD cases than nearly any other attorney in the State of Minnesota. She understands the nuances of these claims and will guide you through the workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability process every step of the way. 

Who is covered by the PTSD presumption?

In Minnesota, anyone that meets the DSM-V criteria for PTSD may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits; however, civilian employees must prove that their diagnosis was the direct and proximate cause of their work duties. For first responders, this standard is different. First responders still must receive a PTSD diagnosis using the DSM-V standard but if they do so, their PTSD is presumed to be caused by their work duties. For purposes of this statute “first responder” positions include:

  • licensed police officers 
  • sheriff deputies 
  • state troopers 
  • firefighters 
  • paramedics 
  • correctional officers 
  • emergency medical technicians
  • dispatchers

Will I qualify for a PERA or MSRS disability benefit with a PTSD diagnosis?

If you are a member of the PERA Police and Fire or the MSRS State Trooper plan, you may qualify for a duty disability benefits if you were diagnosed with PTSD as a result of your work duties. PERA and MSRS have long recognized PTSD as a disabling condition within the meaning of the duty disability statute. PERA and MSRS treat PTSD claims the same way they treat a physical injury claim, such as a back or neck injury.

If you are a first responder who has been diagnosed with PTSD, it is important that you find out your options from an experienced PERA/MSRS attorney. Attorney Ashley Biermann has handled hundreds of PERA/MSRS disability claims and is here to answer your questions. 

Death and dependency benefits for first responder families.

There is nothing more devastating than losing a loved one too early. That is even more difficult if you lose your loved one to PTSD and suicide. Unfortunately, in Minnesota this is becoming more and more common. Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders aren’t getting the help they need to deal with the traumatic events they see on the job, and as a result, they may try to cope in unhealthy, reckless or even devastating ways.

Over the course of my career, I have had the unfortunate experience of losing several first responder clients to suicide. The families of these individuals need help picking up the pieces following this tragic event and it’s important that they seek the advice of a workers’ compensation and a PERA/MSRS attorney to make sure their family is financially secure moving forward. There are death and dependency benefits available to families who lose their loved ones by suicide. Attorney Ashley Biermann will guide you through this process and ensure that you and your family have the financial stability you need in order to heal.

I’m not a first responder, can I still qualify for PTSD workers’ compensation benefits?

The short answer is yes.

PTSD is an injury that effects people from all walks of life, and if your PTSD was caused by your work duties, it can be a compensable workers’ compensation claim. Over the years, I have represented many teachers with PTSD, who have been physically assaulted by students. I have also represented office workers who have been threatened with serious physical violence at work and developed PTSD as a result. PTSD is not an injury that solely exists in the realm of the military and police work. Many other people are affected by the debilitating effects of PTSD and may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact Attorney Joe Osterbauer for PTSD injuries

Joe Osterbauer is an experienced PTSD workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability attorney. He has handled hundreds of first responder cases and understands the interplay between workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. He is also recognized as one of the most experienced PTSD attorneys in the State of Minnesota. Attorney Joe Osterbauer will ensure that you understand your rights and help you determine the best option for you and your family.

Contact Joe Osterbauer for a free and confidential consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

PTSD is a recognized mental health condition that is seen with first responders and those that experience or witness violence in the workplace. Filing a PTSD claim is the same as filing other workers’ compensation claims, and it starts with notifying the employer and then meeting with the required medical professionals to get the documentation needed for the claim.
As with any type of workers’ compensation claim or claims through other plans such as PERA or MSRS, the time to process the claim differs based on the number of claims in the system and if your claim is missing any required information. Most claims are processed in four to eight weeks from the application date.
Once the application is processed, successful applicants will immediately begin receiving regular compensation based on the specifics of their case and claim. Working with an attorney from Osterbauer Law Firm helps to ensure all required documentation and forms are completed and submitted within the required timelines, helping to speed up the process.
The first step in any type of PTSD claim is to notify the employer of the diagnosis. In addition, the employee must demonstrate how the PTSD was caused by an issue in the workplace and have the specific documentation from a mental or medical health professional. In some cases, PTSD may be a standalone claim, while in others, it may be part of a larger physical injury claim.
While this is a case by case determination, it is generally considered that either PERA or MSRS disability benefits or wage loss benefits can be paid to an individual, but not both.
Yes. However, it is more challenging to prove the PTSD is linked to your job than a physical injury, so legal representation is highly recommended.
Yes, people with PTSD related to their work are eligible to file for benefits. The benefit amount varies base on the severity of the PTSD if it is treated, or for long term benefits if there is a permanent mental health impairment due to trauma that occurred on the job.
People with severe PTSD that are not able to return to work and are considered disabled due to the diagnosis may be entitled to SSDI or SSI. This can be difficult to prove, and it is important to work with experienced PTSD lawyers to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to after a traumatic event.
Yes, PTSD is covered by workers’ compensation, but there must be evidence that the trauma was a work-related event. This is often a challenge and working closely with mental health professions and following all treatment recommendations will be essential in proving your case and receiving benefits.
The attorneys at Osterbauer Law Firm can assist you in applying for PTSD benefits. We review your options and determine the best process for you to receive fair compensation for your medical treatment and related costs.
Yes, people with PTSD can qualify for disability benefits if they meet specific requirements. The challenge with PTSD claims is to prove the cause of the stress was work-related and not something that happened prior to employment or outside of the job.