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Georgia legislators pass PTSD Disability Insurance Bill with reduced benefits

Disability Law book and stethoscope on the desk.

The Georgia General Assembly recently gave the green light to a revised version of a bill aimed at extending disability insurance coverage to first responders grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), albeit with a scaled-down payout.

House Bill 451 received unanimous support from the state Senate last week, paving the way for potential enactment into law. If signed, the bill mandates local governments to implement insurance schemes offering a one-time payment of $3,000 to diagnosed first responders. This sum, a notable reduction from the initially proposed $10,000 lump sum, is anticipated to be sourced from municipal budgets rather than workers’ compensation insurance. Modeled after existing firefighters’ cancer benefits initiatives in Georgia and other states, the legislation aims to provide financial support to responders coping with PTSD, a condition not currently covered under Georgia’s workers’ compensation unless accompanied by a physical injury.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Devan Seabaugh and others, also mandates monthly benefits equating to 60% of the responder’s monthly salary, capped at $5,000 monthly for 36 months. Termed the Ashley Wilson Act, in honor of a Gwinnett police officer, the bill’s progress marks a significant stride, following three years of prior unsuccessful attempts to advance similar measures in the Capitol.

The final bill outlines provisions for reassessment of beneficiaries’ conditions and requires annual data collection. Insurer interest, notably from MetLife, has emerged, with premiums exempted from state premium tax.

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