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Can I get workers' comp benefits for anxiety?

If you work in any industry in New Jersey, you will likely suffer work-related stress. This is a natural and unavoidable part of being responsible for doing your job as your employer expects you to do it. However, something may happen at work that transforms your stress into anxiety, which may require medical treatment and even time off work.

Severe anxiety may compromise your safety -- and that of others -- if it prevents you from focusing on your job and following safety rules. Furthermore, if it causes absence from work, it might jeopardize your ability to care for your family. If you face these unfortunate circumstances, one of your main concerns might be whether you will be able to collect workers' compensation benefits.

Requirements for eligibility

The first rule to determine the validity of a workers' compensation claim is whether the injury or illness is work related. For that test, you will have to show that your employment duties caused your condition of anxiety -- or aggravated it. Not all states allow workers' comp benefits for anxiety, but New Jersey will consider such claims.

This state does not require one traumatic incident at work to have caused the condition but accepts that anxiety can develop over time. For example, if you witnessed a co-worker suffering a catastrophic or fatal workplace injury, such a traumatic scene could cause severe anxiety. Also, constant exposure to life-threatening conditions can lead to elevated levels of stress and ultimately cause anxiety.

Providing proof

Although the New Jersey workers' compensation insurance system allows benefits claims for anxiety, there is no guarantee that your claim will be successful. If it lacks sufficient proof to show the condition is work related, it can be denied. The evidence you offer will have to show that you endured circumstances that caused a level of stress that substantially exceeded typical work-related stress, and that it was the primary reason for your state of anxiety.

You will need to attach medical bills and doctors' reports to your benefits claim. If your condition requires ongoing therapy and medication, you might want to include such reports from your doctor. This may serve as justification for wage-loss claims due to absences.

Seek support

Unlike an obvious injury that followed a workplace accident, anxiety is one of those conditions that is invisible and therefore typically questioned or viewed with suspicion. For that reason, you might be better off seeking the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. He or she can explain the requirements and assist with obtaining the necessary proof before the navigation of the administrative and legal processes of filing benefits claims with the workers' compensation insurance system for the state.

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