Since 2012, the Workers Compensation Act 1987 limited workers to their weekly wage entitlements to a capped maximum of 260 weeks (five years), unless they were assessed to have an impairment of greater than 20%.
Claims made before the 1 October 2012 change:
If a claim was made before the 1 October 2012, then an injured persons weekly payments made before 1 January 2013 cannot be counted towards the 260 weeks limit. The beginning of 260 weeks begins from 1 January 2013.
Claims made after 1 October 2012:
If a claim was made on or after the 1 October 2012, weekly payments will commence from the 1 October 2012 and the weekly payments will be counted from the first day of paid incapacity results or was entitled to be received by the worker.
Following the above, a worker has no entitlement to weekly compensation after an aggregate period of 260 weeks, unless they have sustained more than 20% whole person impairment (WPI), pursuant to Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (WCA 1987).
Ongoing weekly payments can only be re-instated following a whole person assessment which also entail a worker to back payments for the period between the date the compensation ceased after being paid to 260 weeks for the period to the date a worker has been assessed and having a whole person impairment of greater than 20%.
Should you a be an exempt category of workers such as police officers, paramedics or fire fighters, coal miners or volunteers the maximum (aggregate) period of 260 weeks (five years) of weekly payments does not apply to you.
An insurers must notify an injured worker well before the 260-week end of weekly payments to ensure appropriate support is provided t in a timely manner in writing, at least 13 weeks before the cessation of benefits.
How is 260 weeks counted? The 260 weeks of entitlement may be consecutive or non-consecutive weekly payment. Any week in which a payment of weekly compensation has been made or is payable, will be counted as one week of entitlement.
Insurers must communicate regularly with workers and must always consider the worker’s individual circumstances and support requirements. These requirements may become more critical in the lead-up to the end of the entitlement period and in setting up access to ongoing support thereafter.
Permanent impairment and weekly payments after 260 weeks
Should an injured worker be assessed as having more than 20% permanent impairment, they may be entitled to weekly payments beyond the 260-week limit. Insurers or your lawyers at Turner Freeman Lawyers need to engage with the injured worker well before this deadline so they can determine whether a permanent impairment assessment is required, and make any necessary arrangements.
The insurer must communicate the outcome of the permanent impairment assessment to the worker. They must also explain what it means for the worker’s entitlement to weekly payments, as well as reasonably necessary medical treatment and services thereafter
If you are approaching the end of a total of 260 weeks (five years) of weekly payments, contact our lawyers at Turner Freeman on what you need to know and do. At Turner Freeman, we have specialist workers compensation lawyers who will assess your case and provide personalised advice regarding your legal entitlements. Our lawyers are located across NSW including Penrith, Parramatta, Wollongong, Toronto, Newcastle, Sydney and Windsor. Contact us today on 02 4729 5200.