MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers signed a bipartisan bill Tuesday that makes it easier for emergency responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to file worker’s compensation claims.
Right now, police and firefighters can claim worker’s compensation for PTSD but they must prove the condition was caused by unusual stress compared to what their co-workers regularly experience. Under the bill, a police officer or firefighter needs only a diagnosis from a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist and the diagnosis doesn’t have to be based on the employee suffering greater stress than his or her co-workers.
The bill limits compensation to 32 weeks, however, and allows responders to make only three such claims in his or her lifetime.
Police and firefighters have been pushing for the changes for several years, saying it could help prevent employee suicides. The bill failed in the Senate during the last legislative session. This time the Senate, now under control of new Republican Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, passed the measure unanimously in February. The Assembly passed it on a voice vote earlier this month.
Evers signed the bill at a Madison fire station. Democratic and Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill attended the signing along with police and firefighters.