New PTSD Presumption Law Effective as of Jan. 1

The new law establishes a presumption that post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses are work-related for employees working in specific jobs.
(Published Jan 7, 2019)

The 2018 omnibus workers’ compensation bill, now Session Laws 2018, Chapter 185, included a change to the workers’ compensation statutes that adds a work-related injury presumption for certain types of employees, including public safety personnel, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Under the new law, when an employee is diagnosed with PTSD, the condition is presumed to be due to the nature of employment if the employee: (1) works in one of a defined list of positions (see below); (2) is on active duty; and (3) has not been previously diagnosed with PTSD. The law is effective for employees with dates of injury on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

Specifically, the PTSD presumption applies to the following employees:

  • Licensed police officer.
  • Firefighter.
  • Paramedic.
  • Emergency medical technician.
  • Licensed nurse employed to provide emergency medical services outside of a medical facility.
  • Public safety dispatcher.
  • Officer employed by the state or a political subdivision at a corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility.
  • Sheriff or full-time deputy sheriff of any county.
  • Member of the Minnesota State Patrol.

Diagnosis can be rebutted

A diagnosis of PTSD can be rebutted by “substantial factors” brought by the employer or insurer. Any substantial factors that are used to rebut this presumption, and that are known to the employer or insurer at the time of the denial of liability, shall be communicated to the employee on the denial of liability.

The new law excludes from the presumption any diagnosed PTSD mental impairment related to a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement, or similar action taken in good faith by the employer.

PTSD treatment criteria not yet adopted

Chapter 185 also directs the Medical Services Review Board (MSRB), which operates under the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), to develop criteria for treatment of PTSD. The MSRB is required to consider guidance on PTSD treatment from the American Psychological Association’s most recently adopted Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Adults.

The DLI is required to adopt rules using the state’s expedited rulemaking process. Although the Board began the process last summer, the rules have not yet been adopted. The adopted rules will apply to employees with all dates of injury who receive treatment after the commissioner adopts the rules. The treatment criteria and rulemaking process were effective June 1, 2018.

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