According to The American Institute of Stress, numerous studies have shown that one of the top causes of stress in adults is their work environment. While this might seem normal, the fact is that advances in technology and general greediness has lead to an environment where Americans are expected to work harder and longer than ever before, often with little to no support – all of which causes stress that can easily lead to serious mental health issues.
How Stress Impacts The Body
Whenever a worker perceives that they have a high number of demands but little control over the situation, they may experience stress. Add in a micromanaging employer, a feeling of a lack of job security, unhappy or nasty coworkers, a lack of personal / work life balance, physical pain caused by a workplace accident and stress levels can increase exponentially. Of course, personal stress often factors into this, whether it is due to the loss of a loved one, financial strain, or even simple housekeeping can make day to day living seem overwhelming.
Common symptoms of high-stress levels include:
- chronic headache
- jaw pain
- upset stomach
- changes in sex drive
- muscle tension
- difficulty sleeping
If the stress is constant and long term, it is not uncommon for a worker to develop one or both of the most common mental health disorders in the country: depression and anxiety.
How Depression & Anxiety Affect Day To Day Life
These two mental health disorders should never be taken lightly and if an employee believes they may be suffering from one or both of these conditions, they should seek a doctor’s opinion as soon as possible.
Depression and anxiety are both disabling disorders that leave a patient with feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and disinterest in life. This can result in an inability to work, eat, sleep, or even enjoy activities that they would normally participate in. If left untreated, suicidal thoughts may occur.
Unfortunately, due to the stigmas associated with depression and anxiety and the cost of treatment, many workers don’t seek the care that they so desperately need. This is, in part, because many don’t realize that treatment for their mental health disorder can be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. But in order to obtain coverage, many need to seek the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
When approved, a claim can provide the employee with payments for the medical treatments they receive that directly relate to the medical condition they have due to their job. In cases of mental health disorders, this may include financial coverage for:
- antidepressants or other medications
- treatments for conditions that are secondary to the mental health condition – such as hypertension
Workers’ comp also provides a fraction of lost income if the worker is unable to return to work for an extended period of time.
In order to obtain an approval, however, the worker must prove that their condition was caused because of their job and with mental health disorders, this can be very difficult to do. The best chance a worker has is to contact an experienced attorney.
How Can An Attorney Help Me?
Not only can an attorney assist you with filling out the necessary claim forms, but they can also help you collect the evidence you need to prove your case, through careful research, the collect of witness statements, documents, and consultation with medical experts.
When workers don’t initially seek the assistance of an attorney, the majority of workers’ compensation claims are denied outright and before a claim is ultimately paid, the applicant frequently must go through the appeal process, including a hearing. The evidence that has been collected will be presented, making the case much stronger.
In addition to this, if the depression and anxiety result in an inability to work for a long period of time, an attorney can help identify if you may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Social security isn’t just for retirees. The program also exists to protect New Yorkers who suffer from a lack of income due to various health reasons which prevent them from returning to work. The financial support provided by this program can be invaluable.
It is difficult, unfortunately, to obtain these benefits and not everyone who is diagnosed with depression or anxiety qualifies.
To qualify for disability benefits for major depression, at a minimum:
- You must be seeing a mental health professional on a regular basis
- You must show that your symptoms of depression have lasted or will last at least 12 months
- You must have documented records of these visits
- There cannot be missed visits or gaps in your medical records
- You must comply with treatment prescribed by your medical professional
- Your records must show that you have symptoms of major depression that continue despite treatment and regular appointments (symptoms include sleep disturbance, loss of interest in all activities, difficulty concentrating or thinking, thought of suicide, hallucination, and more).
- You must prove that depression is having a marked impact on your daily life
- You must show that you are not contributing to your depression with behaviors like drinking or drugs.
Research has shown that an applicant is much more likely to successfully obtain these benefits from the initial application if they work with an experienced attorney.
How Much Does An Attorney Cost?
At Markhoff & Mittman we completely understand that you are already under enough stress and we certainly don’t want to add to it. That’s why we present all of our fees upfront and those fees are taken directly out of any compensation that you obtain. If we don’t win your case then we don’t get paid. This way, you have absolutely everything to gain and nothing to lose. Contact us today to learn more.