Federal workers who have suffered from a physical, work-related injury typically have no qualms with filing for OWCP workers compensation. Physical injuries are tangible, and are relatively easy to explain to family, coworkers and supervisors. Mental and emotional disorders are a different story. Many federal workers aren’t even aware that they can file an OWCP stress claim for a mental condition. If the stress of your daily work activity causes and/or aggravates a preexisting mental or emotional condition (i.e.: anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.) your have every right to receive federal workers’ compensation. These cases, however, can be fairly convoluted, and federal workers should speak with an experienced attorney before moving forward with their claim.
Mental and emotional disorders are common and widespread. An estimated 56 million Americans suffer from some form of a mental disorder within a given year. Even though mental disorders are often just as debilitating as physical conditions, patients often face unfair scrutiny. Unlike physical ailments, which symptoms may appear obvious to the outside world, mental and emotional conditions affect the mind, and can be difficult for others to understand. For this reason, mental and emotional disorders are stigmatized in the U.S.
Mental and Emotional Illness: An Unfair Stigma
This article from the National Institute of Health describes how mental health patients have to cope with both their medical affliction, and with the resulting stereotypes caused by misconceptions of mental illness. According to the report, the public stigma of mental illness tends to fall under one of the following three categories:
- FEAR AND EXCLUSION: Persons with severe mental illness should be feared and, therefore, be kept out of most communities;
- AUTHORITARIANISM: Persons with severe mental illness are irresponsible, so life decisions should be made by others;
- BENEVOLENCE: Persons with severe mental illness are childlike and need to be cared for
This unfortunately can carryover into the workplace, causing patients to experience social isolation, which can hinder treatment efforts.
To help federal employees who are struggling with a personal or emotional issues, each federal agency is equipped with an employee assistance program (EAP), which includes confidential assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services for employees with personal and/or work-related concerns. If you or a friend seem to display symptoms associated with common mental conditions, this is a good resource to use when exploring treatment options.
OWCP Stress Claims: The Causal Factor
For any federal workers’ compensation claim to be approved, the client must provide evidence of a causal factor – meaning they must have evidence that their condition was caused and/or aggravated by a work activity. This can be tricky for OWCP stress claims. If you fall and hurt your back at work, you have the physical injury as proof. If your work supervisor verbally abuses you to the point to where you suffer from severe depression, the evidence may not be as straightforward. The OWCP will question whether your condition could have been caused by other factors, such as personal problems at home or even genetics.
This is one of several reasons why OWCP cases can be difficult to win. Seeking quality legal representation is critical for the success of your claim. If you or a friend think you may have a case for an OWCP stress claim, call Harris Federal at (877) 226-2723 to speak with an attorney.
MORE ON OWCP STRESS CLAIMS: TUNE IN FOR OUR UPCOMING WEBINAR
If you would like to learn more about what it takes to file and win an OWCP workers compensation claim for a mental or emotional disorder, tune in for our upcoming webinar. On Friday, January 16th, Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultant Bo Harris and Associate Attorney Leah Bachmeyer Kille will host a webinar on the topic at 12:00 EST. The webinar is FREE to join, and will provide further detail about OWCP stress claims.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
IMPORTANT NOTE: Keeping your personal information confidential is TOP PRIORITY at Harris Federal. Please know that the name and email you provide when registering for the webinar will NOT be shared with any outside party. Other webinar participants also will NOT be able to see your information.
We are here for your support, and we hope you tune in this Friday.