WORKERS COMPENSATION: ARE YOUR WEEKLY PAYMENTS AT RISK?

WORKERS COMPENSATION: ARE YOUR WEEKLY PAYMENTS AT RISK?

Megaphone-iStock-515223892

– By Glen Pearce –

If you’ve been receiving workers compensation weekly payments for up to 2 years, you need to be aware that 30 June 2017 is a significant date. Not only is it the end of the financial year, but for many people it also marks the cut-off point for these payments.

If you are currently receiving weekly payments, you need to know what’s happening and what you can do to clarify your financial and medical position.

What are weekly payments?

Weekly payments are also known as income maintenance payments. They are a form of workers compensation payments. The law says that:

  • If a worker injures themselves because of or in the course of employment; and
  • They are incapacitated (meaning that they are injured at work and can’t properly perform their job requirements because of the injury); and
  • After the injury they can’t work and are earning less than their average weekly earnings; then
  • They are entitled to weekly payments.

Average weekly earnings may include income from a second job and in some cases overtime payments.

New legislation

On 1 July 2015, new workers compensation laws came into effect. The new laws say that anyone who was receiving weekly payments on or before this date will have their payments cut off from 30 June 2017, unless they’re a seriously injured worker.

Under the old law, workers compensation weekly payments could continue for as long as the worker was incapacitated for work.

But for these workers, the new limit gives no consideration to whether the worker was capable of returning to work or earning any sort of income. Weekly payments will be cut off from 30 June 2017 regardless of whether the worker has any capacity to work.

This has the potential to cause severe financial hardship to many workers who rely on the payments for their economic survival.

Whole Person Impairment

The exception to this is workers who are seriously injured. That is, they are assessed as having a whole person impairment of at least 30 percent.

All injuries arising from the original workplace trauma must be medically stable, meaning that they’re not going to get any better or any worse. Once this has happened, an accredited doctor (who can be chosen by the worker) will assess how much of the worker’s body has been permanently impaired (meaning damaged or injured). The doctor will make the assessment, and express the impairment as a percentage of the whole body, for example 30 percent whole person impairment.

30 percent is a very high hurdle. Typically this means that a person is impaired to the extent that they have suffered significant injury or amputation to one or more limbs.

For these workers, their workers compensation weekly payments could continue until retirement age, and they could receive payment of medical and other expenses until death. Also, they aren’t obliged to participate in rehabilitation or return to work plans.

What will happen to me?

Most people on weekly payments will not be assessed as 30 percent whole person impairment.

They will fall in the gap between being too incapacitated to resume their normal work and being “seriously injured.” For these workers, discontinuance of weekly payments may mean that they must rely on Centrelink payments to meet all of their financial obligations. If Centrelink payments are significantly lower than the weekly payments, this has the potential to cause severe financial hardship.

However, the law may allow an injured worker to make an application requiring their employer to give them work that suits their medical restrictions and abilities. Anyone considering this should seek legal advice before deciding what to do.

Injured workers may also be able to rely on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS has received much publicity over the past number of months.

It is a federal government scheme that provides assistance to people living with a disability, including:

  • Access to medical and educational support services.
  • Access to community support services.
  • Support for the people who care for them.
  • Financial support.

From 1 July 2017, the NDIS will apply to South Australian adults aged 18 to 64. It is to be rolled out region by region.

As part of the 2017 Budget, the federal government announced an increase in the Medicare levy to ensure adequate funding for the NDIS. There remains significant speculation about whether the public purse is capable of funding the NDIS because the forecast costs are huge.

Medical treatment expenses

Of further concern for workers on weekly payments is that from 1 July 2018, medical treatment expenses will be stopped for anyone who received workers compensation weekly payments but were not assessed as having 30 percent or more whole person impairment. Again, the consequences of this may be incredibly serious for incapacitated workers who rely on payment of the expenses to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. For example, just think of the hardship that may be caused if a person could no longer access expensive but vital prescription medication.

Redemption of medical expenses

As a claim comes to an end, there may be a possibility of redemption of medical expenses.

This is a one-off lump sum payment to buy off any future entitlements that a person may have to reasonably and necessarily incurred medical and other expenses. As the payment is usually calculated by the case manager, it might be worth talking to a lawyer about whether the offer is reasonable in consideration of what future medical treatment or surgery you might require.

Income protection claims

Many superannuation policies include an insurance policy for income protection or total and permanent disablement. As each insurance policy is different, we recommend getting legal advice about whether these entitlements can be claimed.

Future surgery

If a person’s doctor has told them that they might need future surgery in relation to workplace injuries, they must make an application to the case manager before their entitlements to medical and other expenses run out. If the application isn’t made or isn’t successful, they will not be entitled to the cost of the future surgery, or any time off work that they have had because of the surgery.

This doesn’t apply to knee replacements, hearing aids and other therapeutic appliances and prostheses. You should seek legal advice for further information in respect of these things.

What should I do?

Workers compensation is a complex legal area and if you are receiving weekly payments, you really need to know your rights so that you can act to protect your interests. Getting good legal advice is essential to this.

If you have any concerns or questions about the upcoming deadline, Websters Lawyers can help. We have an outstanding team of highly experienced workers compensation lawyers who can discuss your options and help you to identify what entitlements you may be able to pursue. Contact us today for a free first interview. Because the sooner you act, often the better off you’ll be.

FREE FIRST INTERVIEW

NO WIN NO FEE

LOCAL LAWYERS FOR LOCAL NEEDS

GET THE RIGHT LAWYER FIRST

call now

Testimonials

Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner

Sebastian

Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.

Nicholas

West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.

Kerry

Ridgehaven

Patient and helpful in explaining the process.

Brian

Ridgehaven

Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.

Christine

Magill

Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.

Christina

Highbury

Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.

Garth

Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.

Jeffrey

Brompton

Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.

Alexis

Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.

Christina

Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.

Mary

Ridgehaven

Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed

John

Ridgehaven

I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.

Diane 

Ridgehaven

The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.

Julie

Yorketown

[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.

Craig

Golden Grove

 

I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.

Rod

Dernancourt

It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.

Kathleen

Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.

John

Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 

Gordon

Glengowrie

Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!

Phillip

Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].

Janet

Adelaide

[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.

Jonathan

Greenwith

[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.

Rachel

Greenwith

Professional. Smooth Transaction. 

Luke

Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.

Ethel

Smithfield

This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.

Stephen

Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair

 

With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park

 

Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys

 

I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact Us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright WebstersLawyers.com 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing