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Ohio woman denied workers' compensation for depression

Ohio workers can receive workers' compensation benefits for injuries or illnesses such as depression that arise out of job-related accidents. Such benefits may cover loss of wages and related medical expenses.

However, the Industrial Commission of Ohio recently ruled that one woman could not receive temporary total disability compensation because, allegedly, her injury-related depression did not result in a total inability to work.

In 2004, the woman had suffered a back injury while on the job. The injury prevented her from working as she underwent treatment to achieve maximum recovery. During this time, she received workers' compensation benefits.

Upon completing her back-related medical treatment in 2006, she filed for continued benefits because the ordeal continued to inflict crippling depression that prevented her from working.

After listening to conflicting expert testimony, the Commission determined that the woman's failure to re-enter the workforce was adequate grounds for denying the continued benefits. While her own doctor said that her depression constituted a total disability, another doctor said that the depression was only partially disabling. This latter doctor contended that the injured woman could still perform sedentary work.

In other words, this professional said that the woman should not receive disability benefits because her depression allowed her to work in jobs that she could perform sitting down, even if the depression prevented her from engaging in more strenuous activity. It is unclear why the Commission gave higher regard to this doctor than to the woman's own doctor.

Based on the latter doctor's testimony, the Commission decided that the woman wrongly failed to re-enter the workforce, and thus proceeded to deny her continued benefits. The woman was 65 years old at the time of the 2009 decision.

In March 2012, the 10th District Ohio Court of Appeals upheld the Commission's ruling on the basis that that the Commission did not abuse its discretion.

Source: workforce.com, "Injured Worker's Depression not Compensable Because She did not Return to Work," Sheena Harrison, April 2, 2012

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