TGB’s Comcare Claims team has successfully managed permanent impairment claims for injured Commonwealth employees right across the country. TGB Partner and experienced Comcare Claims lawyer, Tim White answers our clients’ seven most frequently asked questions and raises things you need to be aware of.
1. What is a permanent impairment claim?
Commonwealth employees that have a work injury are entitled to a permanent impairment payment under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (SRCA). The injury must be permanent and stable or likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Although there is no set period of time that must pass before an injury can be considered ‘permanent’, these conditions usually mean that often 12 months or more must pass after the injury or any surgery for it to be able to be considered stable and ‘permanent’.
2. How do I know if an offer that has been made for my permanent impairment claim is fair and reasonable?
If you have an injury accepted under the SRCA, you may be entitled to a permanent impairment claim. Such payments are made in relation to both physical and psychological conditions. This payment is typically only made once so it is vital that the amount paid is fair and reasonable. Unfortunately, we frequently see Commonwealth employees accepting permanent impairment payments that are too low. The only way to be sure is to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
3. Is there a threshold for receiving a permanent impairment payment?
Yes. In order to receive a permanent impairment payment you must have an injury that equates to an impairment of at least 10%.
The percentage assessment is done using tables in the Guide to the assessment of the degree of permanent impairment. There are a variety of different tables that apply depending on the nature of the injury you have.
The greater the extent of your permanent impairment, the larger the amount of compensation payable to you. For an injury that has a 10% permanent impairment, the amount payable is approximately $40,000.
4. Does my claim finish if I receive this permanent impairment payment? Does my employment finish?
No, your claim does not cease just because you receive this payment. Your claim continues, as this payment is made in addition to other entitlements that you may have under the SRCA, such as weekly payments and medical expenses. Your employment also continues – you are not required to resign or leave your employment just because you receive this payment.
5. Is a permanent impairment payment payable for a psychological injury?
Yes. If an employee has an accepted psychological injury, they are entitled to a permanent impairment payment. For conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions, if you exceed the 10% impairment, you are entitled to a permanent impairment payment. The threshold for such a payment in relation to a psychological condition is not actually that high, and your condition has to be assessed in comparison with the relevant table in the guide, which is Table 5.1 found on page 66 of the Permanent Impairment Guide.
6. Is a permanent impairment payment taxed?
The permanent impairment payment is not taxed. It is one of the few payments that you can receive as a result of your employment that is not taxed.
7. Can I have a second permanent impairment claim?
You are usually only entitled to one permanent impairment claim for each specific injury. Given this, it is important that you seek legal advice when you are proceeding with this type of claim to ensure that the amount payable is appropriate, and not too low.
If you have multiple work injuries that are accepted, you may be entitled to more than one permanent impairment payment. As an example, if you have injuries to your neck, lower back, and right knee, if you have a 10% permanent impairment for each of those three injuries, you would be entitled to three separate permanent impairment payments. In this example, the amount payable could exceed $120,000.00 (3 x 10% permanent injury claims at $40,000 each).
A permanent impairment claim can be complex and involves a number of important considerations – and a permanent impairment payment is usually only paid once. Frequently, when asked to assess permanent injury claims, insurers understate the extent of a worker’s injury and the extent of the impairment. If you disagree with a decision you have received, you are entitled to challenge the decision. We frequently assist people with these disputes.
Get in Touch!
Tim and his team advise Commonwealth employees across Australia on their entitlement to compensation and making Comcare claims.
To discuss anything in this article, for help securing your entitlements or if you believe you may be eligible for a permanent impairment payment, please get in touch with Tim on 1800 730 842 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.