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Patton's First Responders PTSD Benefits Bill Signed into Law

January 11, 2021
Thomas F. Patton News

State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) announces his legislation, House Bill 308, was signed into law over the weekend. The bill allows peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers who have PTSD due to employment to be eligible for compensation and benefits regardless if they already suffer from an accompanying injury or not. Patton is a primary sponsor of the bill.

Previously, the 2013 Supreme Court of Ohio determined that an individual seeking workers’ compensation for a PTSD claim was ineligible to receive those benefits if they did not have a compensable physical injury that caused their PTSD.

“I’m grateful to see this bill signed into law to help with the unintended consequences that police officers, firefighters, and medical workers face while serving in the line of duty,” said Patton. “Moving forward, these heroes have dealt with some traumatic events and they should be rightfully compensated even though a physical injury may not be present – mental illness can be just as devastating to an individual.”

Additionally, the legislation clarifies that claimants will not be able to receive benefits for PTSD while simultaneously receiving disability benefits from a state retirement system for that injury.

The Senate added amendments including the following:

  • Establishes a fund created by the state treasury and the director of budget and management shall be the trustee of the fund.
  • Creates a committee to study the financial and administrative requirements for the fund and should consult the several organizations. An analysis of the fund shall be made, which will determine the costs and who should be responsible for it by Oct. 1, 2021.

Several groups have come to the Statehouse to testify in support of House Bill 308 during its time in committee including the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, Safety Forces Support Center, Ohio State Medical Association, Northern Ohio Fire Fighters (NOFF), Columbus Fire Fighters IAFF Local 67, Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association, Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio and Paramedic 398 Cleveland Division of EMS.

It was reported previously this year that a young Cleveland police officer tragically took her own life only 24 hours after witnessing a gruesome crime scene.

“I’ve had discussions with many police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers about this issue since I started working on this around eight years ago,” said Patton. “Based off their personal experiences, it’s definitely an issue I believe is absolutely necessary to address and I’m very pleased to get this bill over the finish line for them.”

Patton has also noted untreated PTSD symptoms can negatively impact these individuals. According to the Coalition for Healthy Communities, traumatic events causing PTSD symptoms can cause increased anxiety, sleeplessness, anger, substance and alcohol abuse, negative job performance, and suicidal thoughts. Additionally, a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation and reported by USA Today, first responders are more likely to commit suicide than to die in the line of duty and are approximately far more likely to commit suicide than the general public. 

House Bill 308 originally passed in the House back in February while the Senate passed the legislation with amendments back in December.