File A PTSD Claim Under The DBA Today
Civilian contract workers suffering from PTSD can file claims for benefits under the Defense Base Act (DBA) and receive future compensation upon proving the your injuries were caused by work-related conditions.
If you need help filing a PTSD claim for wage loss and medical benefits in relation to your time spent overseas for a government contractor, the information on this page will help. Filing a PTSD claim under the Defense Base Act is not easy and proving your time spent while employed caused the condition can be difficult.
On this page you'll learn how to file a DBA claim for PTSD in 2022, what evidence is needed to prove that shows how your employment caused post-traumatic stress, and what you can expect to experience during the claim process with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Overview of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event, such as a natural disaster, a car accident, or a violent attack. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. People with PTSD may also feel emotionally numb and have difficulty sleeping. In some cases, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. PTSD can occur immediately after the traumatic event, or it may not appear until months or even years later. The disorder can cause long-term problems and disrupt a person's ability to live a normal life. If you think you might have PTSD, it's important to seek professional help through a mental health counselor or psychologist. Treatment for PTSD often includes therapy and medication. With treatment, most people with PTSD are able to manage their symptoms and live normal lives.
How to File a Defense Base Act (DBA) Claim for PTSD
To get medical benefits and wage compensation, civilian contractors should submit a PTSD claim with U.S. Department of Labor. First, employees can download and fill out LS-201 form (Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death). This can be submitted via mail to the OWCP, it can be uploaded electronically through the SEAPortal.
In addition to this form, The U.S. Department of Labor also requires that civilian contractors specifically seeking PTSD benefits provide the following information:
Proof of employment (ex: employment contract or agreement)
Medical documentation with the diagnosis of PTSD
Proof that experiences within the warzone caused the emotional stress disorder
What Is The Cost of Filing A PTSD Claim?
There is no cost to filing a Defense Base Act claim. All costs associated with the claim will be borne by the employer. However, before workers file a claim they often experience some medical costs, such as the possible charge to see a psychologist to determine if they suffer from an emotional stress condition. However, the DBA entitles claimants to select a physician of your choice to treat the conditions, so any charges are also reimbursed.
What Happens When A PTSD Claim Is Denied?
When a PTSD claim for benefits is denied under the Defense Base Act, the injured worker or their legal counsel has the right to appeal the decision. The first step in the appeals process is to file a written request for a hearing with the Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. Once the request is received, a hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge. At the hearing, both the claimant and employer will have the opportunity to present testimony and evidence regarding the validity of the PTSD diagnosis and the at-work factors that may, or may not, have caused the stress condition to develop.
The evidence supporting a claim of PTSD generally includes the psychologist's report making the determination of the clinical diagnosis of PTSD. Additionally, the doctors ongoing patients records are helpful in detailing symptom frequency and severity, along with forms of therapy used to aid the claimant. If a civilian contractor required the assistance of a physiatrist, evidence of the psychiatric drugs should be provided to the to the judge in the hearing.
The judge will later issue a written decision. If either party is dissatisfied with the judge's decision, they can appeal to the Benefits Review Board. The Board is composed of three members, who will review the case and issue a final decision regarding the PTSD claim. Once a decision has been made by the Board, it is final and cannot be appealed.
What Types of Compensation Can I Obtain In A Successful PTSD Claim?
The types workers' compensation benefits obtainable through a successful PTSD claim under the DBA include medical expenses, income replacement, and death benefits. In order to receive these benefits, workers must file a claim with the OWCP and prove that their stress condition was caused by their job. The DBA also provides coverage for certain contractors and subcontractors working on U.S. military base or facilities. Claims of PTSD are often paid in a lump sum settlement, which is an agreement between the worker and the employer (or insurance company) to pay all remaining benefits in one lump sum payment, rather than in periodic payments over time.
Structured Settlements Versus Lump Sum Settlements
There are two types of settlements under the Defense Base Act: structured settlements and lump sum settlements. Structured settlements are paid out in periodic payments over time, while lump sum settlements are paid out in one single payment. This type of settlement is typically only offered when the worker has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning that their condition is not expected to improve any further with treatment. Lump sum settlements can be a great way for injured workers to receive a large sum of money all at once, but it is important to make sure that you are fully aware of the implications before agreeing to one.
Which type of settlement is best for you will depend on your individual situation. For example, if you need the money right away to cover medical expenses, a lump sum settlement may be more advantageous. On the other hand, if you are unable to work and need income to support yourself and your family, a structured settlement may be a better option. Ultimately, it is important to speak with an experienced DBA lawyer to discuss your options and decide which type of settlement is best for you.
The DBA Connection With PTSD
Many civilian contractors and federal employees that fulfilled government contracts on U.S. military bases in warzones suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). n fact, studies have shown that approximately 20% of people who have worked on bases in in Iraq and Afghanistan have symptoms of PTSD. This mental stress condition can be caused by a number of factors within a combat zone, including exposure to missile attacks, explosions, terrorist threats, bombings, or other forms of severe personal loss. Psychiatrists refers to these PTSD-causing events as combat-related “stressors.” Some additional examples include exposure to death or injury, or consistent threat of great peril.
Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and isolation. For many federal contract workers, these symptoms can be debilitating and make it difficult to lead a normal life. When working on an base that is under consistent attack, the body is also in a fight or flight condition for an extended time, which makes returning to normal life a difficult adjustment. Overseas Civilian contract worker can be an incredibly stressful experience, and it is not surprising that so many veterans struggle with PTSD. However, there are psychological treatments and medications available that can help claimants manage their symptoms and live healthy, productive lives. With the right support, many PTSD victims are able to overcome PTSD and build successful careers, families, and relationships.
Start Your PTSD Claim Today
Do not wait to file and open a PTSD claim through the Defense Base Act with U.S. Department of Labor. If you were a federal employee or contract employee and believe you suffer from symptoms of emotional distress or post-traumatic stress disorder due to your time spent overseas, there is help available, you just have to contact a DBA attorney and have them start the process for you. For more information on the claims process, read of guide on filing PTSD claims for additional insight.