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State Senator

Cathy Osten

Representing Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich & Sprague

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As PTSD Coverage Gains National Attention, Senator Osten Once Again Seeks to Modify Worker’s Comp Law

As the issue of workers’ compensation coverage for standalone mental injuries like PTSD has become a legislative issue for about half of all American states, state Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) is once again introducing legislation this year to expand Connecticut’s workers’ compensation laws to cover—in certain situations—injuries that result in mental or emotional impairment.

According to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), four states enacted new laws in 2017 to expand workers’ compensation coverage to cover PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) injuries for first responders; 16 other states considered similar legislation in 2018, and three other states—including Connecticut—have considered the issue for several years.

Sen. Osten has championed such proposed legislation in Connecticut for several years.

“Other states are finding a way to get it done,” Sen. Osten said. “My hope is that this is the year that the Connecticut legislature realizes this is a national issue, that horrific events like the shootings at Sandy Hook and San Bernardino and the Pulse Nightclub are no longer abnormal but are becoming the new normal, and that we as a people have an obligation to our first responders to offer them the medical attention that they deserve when they experience wounds that are not physical, but psychological.”

“I’m also confident that we’ll see an end to repeated assertions that mental health coverage under worker’s comp is supposedly too expensive,” Sen. Osten continued. “The Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims reviewed 70,000 claims and found that just 10 of them sought benefits for mental health injuries without a covered physical injury. That’s just fourteen thousandths of one percent. It’s really a non-issue.”

Sen. Osten’s proposed bill, Senate Bill 164, “AN ACT INCLUDING CERTAIN MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS WITHIN THE DEFINITION OF “PERSONAL INJURY” UNDER THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION STATUTES,” has been submitted to the Labor & Public Employees Committee, where Sen. Osten serves as vice-chair.

The bill seeks to amend Chapter 568 of the Connecticut General Statutes to include job-related mental or emotional impairments resulting directly from visually witnessing the death or aftermath of death that was caused by another human being, within the definition of “personal injury,” so that affected individuals may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

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