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WorkSafeBC and Your Psychological Diagnosis

Are you experiencing psychological symptoms (such as depression or PTSD) after a workplace injury?

With work incidents having mental health effects as well as physical effects, it is very common for workers to develop psychological conditions as a result.  You should know that WorkSafeBC tends to avoid formally accepting a worker’s psychological condition.  Even when a condition is acknowledged, it will often be erroneously misdiagnosed in order to minimize a worker’s symptoms and compensation.  

The first step in obtaining compensation for a psychological condition is to have Wformally accept the condition on your claim.  Your claim might include references to things like depression, anxiety, low mood, and suicidal ideation, but, based on our experience, WorkSafeBC will routinely fail to accept a psychological condition on the claim unless they are asked.  Similarly, WorkSafeBC will usually refer physical impairments for a disability award assessment, but often does not do the same for psychological impairments.  WorkSafeBC may even offer psychological treatment and health care for the psychological condition, but this is not the same as formally accepting it, and compensating for it, on the claim. 

The second step is rating the impairment from the psychological condition, in order to calculate the disability award.  Psychological disability awards can be quite significant; they are rated in 5% increments, and range from 0%-100%, depending on severity.  Unfortunately, WorkSafeBC will often accept a milder or more vague diagnosis, such as “Adjustment Disorder” (“AD”) or “Somatic Symptom Disorder” (“SSD”), rather than more serious diagnoses such as “Major Depressive Disorder” (“MDD”) and “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (“PTSD”).  This is often an intentional misdiagnosis (for claims management or compensation reduction purposes), in order to downplay the seriousness of the condition and reduce a worker’s disability award. 

WorkSafeBC guidelines provide four categories for psychological conditions: minor (0%); mild (5%-25%); moderate (30%-70%); and marked-extreme (75%-100%).  We have found that diagnoses such as AD and SSD tend to be grouped in the “mild” category, starting at a rating of about 5%-10%.  In contrast, the same worker with an MDD or PTSD diagnosis could be placed in the “moderate” category, which starts at a 30% impairment rating. 

In short, the acceptance of a formal psychological condition, and the diagnosis that is accepted, can make a significant difference in a worker’s compensation for a mental health condition. 

If you would like to schedule a consultation appointment to discuss your claim, please contact Gosal & Company at or (604) 591-8187.

Written by Kate Elperin, Associate Lawyer