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Receiving Workers’ Compensation for Mental TraumaThe injuries you receive at work can go beyond what can be physically diagnosed. Sometimes, an incident at work can be traumatic enough that it causes a mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety. A mental health professional can diagnose your mental disorder and state whether the work incident likely caused the disorder. Illinois law allows you to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you can prove the correlation between the work incident and your mental health. You can use a “mental-physical” claim or “mental-mental” claim.


A mental-physical claim is when a physical incident at work caused trauma that led to your mental condition. This can easily happen when you suffer a traumatic injury in the process of your normal work duties. A factory worker who was severely injured while using machinery may feel anxious about returning to work. The worker could be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder if he or she suffers panic attacks due to that anxiety.

Seemingly minor injuries can also create mental trauma depending on the nature of the incident. For instance, someone sexually assaulted by a supervisor may suffer bruises that do not require medical treatment. However, being assaulted at work is traumatic and would understandably cause the victim anxiety about returning to the workplace. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has awarded benefits in such a scenario.


Specific Incident Needed to Collect Workers' Compensation for PTSDIn 2014, an Illinois state arbitrator awarded workers’ compensation to an Illinois State Trooper as a result of his suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. What made the case unusual was the source of the PTSD was an allegedly abusive supervisor. The trooper claimed he was suffering mental and physical anguish because the supervisor had constantly berated him while he was under the supervisor’s command. However, the decision was later overturned during an appeal. Workplace stress can gradually degrade an employee’s mental health, but the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is unlikely to recognize this as a reason to award compensation.

Specific Trauma

Illinois claimants can receive workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD if they can site an event that caused the trauma. An event usually involves the claimant:

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