The current South Carolina workers’ compensation system covers physical injuries that are sustained while on the job. The existing policies are limited to providing benefits for physical injuries only, however, advocates are hoping for an expansion of coverage that would compensate those who developed a mental condition as a result of their work. At the center of the question of whether or not mental illness treatment should be covered by workers’ compensation policies are the state’s first responders.
A report on the issue from ABC 4 News stated, “The PTSD and depression rates among first responders are five-times higher than the civilian population, according to a recent study. It also found that first responders are more likely to die of suicide than in the line of duty.”
Despite the high rate of mental illness among firefighters and police officers, workers’ compensation benefits are not available for those who need treatment. First responders who require treatment most often have to rely on their own insurance or other methods of payment to afford mental health services, one being the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program. Through this initiative, which is separate from workers’ compensation, qualified individuals could be entitled to benefits of up to $15,000 to treat occupational mental conditions.
Some senators in South Carolina support amending the state’s workers’ compensation system to allow for the coverage of mental health conditions, but unfortunately, have been unsuccessful in their efforts to pass legislation on the subject. South Carolina state senate bill S-429 was created with the help of some of the individuals who would most benefit from its passing, and was introduced to the legislature in 2015. The legislation was supported by both parties, but sadly did not receive enough votes to become law.Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC works to help injured employees receive the benefits they deserve — contact us online or via phone at (843) 968-0886 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.