New Minnesota Law to Help First Responders Get Workers' Comp for PTSD

The new law states that if a public safety employee such as a firefighter, corrections officer, or paramedic is diagnosed with PTSD, it will be presumed that the disorder is work-related.

A new law taking effect this year in Minnesota will help first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) get coverage through workers’ compensation.

According to KIMT3 News, the new law states that if a public safety employee such as a firefighter, corrections officer, or paramedic is diagnosed with PTSD, it will be presumed that the disorder is work-related. As a result, if a public safety employee is newly diagnosed with PTSD, they will receive workers’ compensation.

“It’s a change in the workers’ comp law that creates a presumption that when they’re diagnosed with it, it comes from work,” Senator Nick Frentz said. “They can be covered under workers’ comp, get treatment, hopefully get better and also help us recruit to the profession.”

The new law will allow more first responders to get the support they need to handle their PTSD, according to Frentz.

“This is going to be a change that’s very good for Minnesota police, fire first responders and others in dealing with PTSD,” Frentz said.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 50 percent of firefighter deaths are from stress or exhaustion, not fires, and about 30 percent of firefighters report having depression or PTSD compared to 20 percent of the general population. In addition, SAMHSA reports that about 47 percent of police officers have reported having anxiety or depression in the post-9/11 era.

Rochester Fire Department’s Captain Caleb Feine told KIMT3 News that the new law is a step in the right direction for supporting the health of first responders and other public safety employees.

“We see some things sometime, they're not easy to handle. And everybody handles those things differently so, you know, it's important that we take care of our own in that aspect,” Capt. Feine said.

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