Approximately 23.5 million teens and adults in America required treatment for substance abuse in 2011, and that number seems to be rising every year. If you develop a drug or alcohol problem while on the job, you may be wondering if workers' compensation will pay the cost of a rehab program. Yes, the insurance provider will pay for you to get substance abuse treatment, but only under one specific condition.
Must Be Job Related
As with any injury or illness, you must have obtained the addiction to drugs and alcohol as a result of something that happened on the job for your treatment to be covered by workers' compensation. There aren't too many scenarios when this may occur, but employees have managed to connect their addictions to their jobs and win workers' comp benefits as a result.
For example, an employee at a clothing store was shot during a robbery. The employee was actually targeted by the perpetrators because he had reported another robbery previously. After the incident, the employee developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol, which he used to cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder he developed after the ordeal. Although workers' comp denied his claim requesting the insurance provider pay for rehab, the courts eventually sided with the employee, stating the addiction arose directly from the injuries he sustained while at work.
The Challenge of Getting Approved for Benefits
The most challenging part of getting workers' comp to pay for rehab is connecting the addiction to the workplace. The connection must be direct, and the court must believe it arose as a legitimate outcome to something that happened at the workplace.
Your rehab generally won't be covered if you abused drugs or alcohol to cope with the daily stress of your job, for instance, because stress is not considered a workplace injury. On the other hand, if you sustain a back injury and became addicted to the pain pills prescribed, you could make a case for rehab benefits because some pain medications are known to be addictive (e.g. opioids like oxycodone).
You may need to have a medical expert testify about your condition and how a substance addiction could have arisen as a result. For example, you could have your doctor testify that the level of pain you were experiencing necessitated using high doses of medication which caused you to become addicted.
For more information about this issue or help with a workers' compensation claim, contact an attorney such as those found at The Reed Noble Law Firm PLLC.