WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: FINANCIAL SURVIVAL
What financial dramas could I face under a workers’ compensation claim?
Unfortunately, there is a number of potential delays involved in claiming Workers’ Compensation that could cause you financial hardship. The two most common sources of delays in payments are:-
- Waiting for the decision on your claim application. While the Workers’ Compensation legislation states that a decision must be made by the Insurer within 20 business days after the claim has been submitted, unfortunately, there are a number of valid reasons why the Insurer may not be able to make their decision on your claim for much longer than that. For example, waiting to get a Specialist’s medical appointment to determine the nature and work relatedness of your injury.
- Waiting for the outcome of a Review/Appeal of an unfavourable decision on your claim such as the premature closing of your claim in circumstances where you are still not well enough to go back to work.
Either of these scenarios can, and do occur, putting the claimant in a precarious situation with no income or ability to work for (in some cases) months.
The following are measures to help you to financially survive such delays without income:-
Access available leave entitlements
If you have any sick, annual and/or long service leave entitlements available to you, you can apply to your employer to use these to provide you with income while you wait for Workers’ Compensation benefits to be paid. Most large retailers are quite agreeable to you doing this.
If and when your claim is accepted or reinstated after a Review/Appeal, the period in question will be regarded as ‘absence on Workers’ Compensation’ and you will be re-credited with the leave entitlements that you ‘borrowed’ until the Workers’ Compensation benefits came through. Make sure that your employer does re-credit this borrowed leave to your available leave entitlements.
The downside of accessing your leave entitlements in such circumstances is that if your claim is rejected and/or your Review/Appeal fails, then these ‘borrowed’ leave entitlements have been used and cannot, under such circumstances, be retrieved to be used again later on.
If you have no available leave entitlements to ‘borrow’, then you can approach Centrelink and explain your circumstances in relation to your Workers’ Compensation claim. If you meet their criteria, you may be eligible for Sickness Benefits (or part benefits) until your Workers’ Compensation benefits are paid.
Bear in mind that Centrelink will probably not pay you Sickness Benefits if you have available leave entitlements that you have not used. Also, the ‘Means Test’ they apply to you to establish eligibility for Sickness Benefits will include any other ‘household income’ you have, including income of your spouse. This usually means that if your spouse is in full-time work, you may not qualify for Sickness Benefits, regardless of your family’s financial commitments.
Apply for ‘Income Protection Insurance’ under REST Superannuation.
When you joined REST, you would have been offered certain types of insurance coverage under your membership, one of which is ‘Income Protection Insurance’ which is designed to cover total and temporary periods of incapacity to work.
If you took out this type of cover when it was offered, make a claim to REST.
Other helpful hints
If none of the above avenues for temporary financial support are available to you, it is worthwhile to go to your creditors and explain the situation that you are temporarily in.
It is important to contact, for example, your bank and explain your financial situation. They can be helpful and may reduce or even suspend your repayments until your Workers’ Compensation Claim/Review/Appeal gets resolved.
Finally, remember to keep getting Workers’ Compensation Medical Certificates while you wait for your Claim/Review/Appeal decision.