New amendments to the Workers Compensation Regulation 2010 have resulted in a limited “ return”, for some workers of their former entitlements prior to the amendments made to the Act.
While several new amendment were made that main two that will impact on the majority of workers will be an amendment allowing injured workers to continue to have access to claiming medical expenses until retirement age if their whole person impairment is between 21% and 30%. There will also be access till retirement age for crutches, artificial members, eyes or teeth, and other artificial aids, spectacles and hearing aids.
CHANGES TO BENEFITS FOR INJURED WORKERS EFFECTIVE ON 1 SEPTEMBER
The Minister for Finance & Services announced on 26 June 2014 that he proposed to introduce five enhancements to benefits for injured workers and these would be introduced by an amendment to the Workers Compensation Regulation 2010.
The amendment to the Regulation was gazetted on 3 September 2014.
The five changes apply only to injured workers with a claim for compensation in respect of an injury made before 1 October 2012 and provide:
- Access to medical benefits until retirement for workers with a whole person impairment between 21% and 30% without regard to the time limit in section 59A of the 1987 Act.
- Access to crutches, artificial members, eyes or teeth, and other artificial aids and spectacles as well as hearing aids and batteries as well as home and vehicle modification until retirement.
- Workers injured in the 12 months before retirement age will have the same entitlements as those who were injured at or after retirement age.
- The time limit under section 59A will not apply to secondary surgery (where it is consequential on earlier surgery and affects a part of the body affected by the earlier surgery) and was approved by the insurer within 2 years after the initial surgery.
- Work Capacity decisions of insurers are stayed until conclusion of the review process providing that the original application for review of the insurer’s decision is made within 30 days.In addition Work Capacity decisions for workers who were being transitioned (existing weekly recipients as at 1 October 2012) must now be made before 31 August 2015. Work Capacity Decisions made between 31 March 2014 and 1 September 2014 are retrospectively validated as being in time.
Your attention is drawn in particular to the description of “existing claim” which should not be confused with the definition of “existing claim” in the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.
There is also the use of the words “existing claimants” in clause 6 of Part 19H of the 1987 Act. That refers to existing recipients of weekly payments and that is different to the latest definition of “existing claim”.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
WorkCover Independent Review Officer
Issued 4 September 2014