Police Officer Requests Workers Comp for PTSD from Newton School Shooting
A Newton police officer has suffered such severe PTSD after responding to the Sandy Hook School shootings in 2012 that he has not yet returned to work, and says he will need workers comp to help him while he continues to recover.
Thomas Bean, a 38-year-old husband and father of two, says he faces an uncertain financial future because he does not believe he can return to his law enforcement career.
“I can’t even touch a gun,” he said.
Bean stood before members of the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee and stated that he experienced depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety, since the December 14th massacre which left 20 children and six teachers dead at the school.
Under a bill to support emergency responders who helped during the tragedy, Bean receives half his base pay under long-term disability insurance. However, the policy will end in June 2015. If Bean received workers comp instead of disability for his PTSD, he would receive 66% of his base pay, including an average of overtime, with no taxes.
Bean has been at odds with his employers and the local government since he took time off from his job to treat his PTSD. He faced a possible termination letter last year, but that was rescinded. His police union reps say that he deserves 13 years of disability pay, until he retires from the force, but Newton officials say he can only receive the disability benefits for two years.
“It’s a constant reminder of what happened to me,” Bean said of the controversy. “So I’m always being re-traumatized because I don’t know what my future is.”
Two bills going before the state legislature this session relate to the Sandy Hook school shooting. One would allow workers comp coverage for mental trauma, but only for state or municipal employees who witnessed a traumatic event and were diagnosed with PTSD caused by the event. The second bill, however, is much broader, and would require workers comp coverage for any worker who witnessed a traumatic event while on the job and who then suffered a mental or emotional impairment of any kind, not just PTSD.
Robert Labanara Jr., state relations manager for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, disagrees with the workers comp bils, saying that they are very expensive for cities and towns, which would have to provide full wage replacement in some cases.
“It still would cost money” he said. “These diagnoses are still subjective. It could overlap with existing symptoms of depression and other anxiety disorders.”
He added that if the state wants to expand workers comp coverage for such incidents, then a provision should be added to compensate local governments, as well.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with South Carolina Workers Comp Claims
The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800