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Can I still claim my TAC benefits if travelling outside Australia?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many visiting tourists and newly unemployed overseas workers to either leave or consider leaving Australia prematurely. In this article we look at what happens for people currently on TAC benefits or considering lodging a TAC claim for injuries sustained in a transport accident if they have to leave the country; whether as a visa holder or as an Australian resident or citizen temporarily leaving the country.

I have an accepted TAC claim. Can the TAC pay for my medical and like expenses when I leave Australia?

Generally, the TAC will only pay for medical and like expenses when you are within Australia.

For example, the TAC will not pay for your consultations with your treating doctors outside of Australia. However, the TAC will pay for medical consultations if they require you to have a medical examination for the purposes of determining your work capacity and entitlements to loss of earnings benefits.

If your accident related injuries have stabilised and you lodged an impairment claim for a lump sum payment, the TAC will pay for medical examinations to assess your degree of permanent impairment.

As an overseas visitor, when I leave Australia and cannot return to work, can I claim loss of earning payments from the TAC?  

If you are unable to return to your pre-injury work duties as a result of a transport accident in Victoria, the TAC can pay you loss of earning (LOE) benefits.

The TAC will generally pay your LOE at the rate of 80% of pre-injury average weekly earnings. If you were a low-income earner and have dependents, the TAC can pay you 100% of your pre-injury earnings. The TAC can pay you up to 3 years of loss of earning and/or your loss of earning capacity.

To allow the TAC to calculate your LOE benefit, you will need to provide copies of official financial documents to prove your pre-injury earnings. For example, Tax Returns, Notices of Assessment and payslips).

You are also required to provide the TAC with certificates of capacity from your treating doctor confirming your incapacity to return to work. This requirement will continue for as long as you are claiming LOE benefits. Please refer to the TAC Certificate of Capacity policy to ensure your certificates comply with TAC requirements.

The TAC can pay you LOE for up to 18 months and loss of earning capacity (LOEC) benefits for a further 18 months after the date of your accident. If you have suffered an injury which results in a whole person impairment rating of 50% or more and your capacity for work remains reduced compared to your pre-injury capacity, the TAC can continue paying your LOEC until pension age.

If your financial documents or certificates of capacity are in a language other than English, you will need provide the TAC with a certified translated copy. The TAC can pay for interpreting and translating services according to their fee schedule. To minimise any out of pocket expenses, see ‘Interpreter services payment rates’.

Without this, there may by a delay in your payments or the TAC may cease paying you LOE benefits. Also, where necessary, the TAC may require you to be medically examined overseas to determine whether you are still entitled to LOE/C benefits.

As an Australian resident or citizen, can I travel overseas whilst receiving ongoing LOE benefits?

When you leave Australia, your treating health professional in the country you are travelling to must continue providing you with medical certificates confirming the same information as the TAC certificate of capacity. Please refer to the Certificate of Capacity policy.

If the certificates of capacity are in a language other than English, you must provide the TAC with a certified translated copy. Without this, the TAC may suspend, reduce or cease paying your LOE benefits.

Before I travel overseas (either temporarily or permanently), what information do I need to provide the TAC?

You should inform the TAC of the following:

  • Your departure and/or return dates in advance or as soon as practical.
  • Your contact details when you are overseas.

As an Australian resident, can I move overseas permanently and still be entitled to LOE benefits?

The TAC can continue paying your LOE benefits as long as certificates of capacity or medical certificates from a qualified overseas medical practitioner are submitted on an ongoing basis.

The TAC may require you to be medically examined overseas to determine whether you are still entitled to LOE benefits.

How are TAC payments made to people who are outside of Australia?

If you’re a permanent Australian resident temporarily outside of Australia, the TAC will make EFT payments into your Australian bank account.

If you’re an overseas visitor or Australian resident who has permanently moved overseas, the TAC will convert your LOE benefits (assessed in Australian dollars) into the currency of the country you have moved to or originally reside in.

TAC will be responsible for all the charges relating to the conversion. Under Australian taxation law, the TAC must deduct tax for those who are overseas residents, or who do not usually live in Australia at the ‘non-resident’ tax rate.

Also, the TAC will request you to provide your overseas residential or postal address and bank account details to deposit the benefits.

Can I lodge an impairment claim whilst I am overseas?

Yes.

Either you or your lawyer can arrange to lodge your impairment claim electronically. If you are unable to return to Australia for the required medical assessment appointment(s), the TAC can pay for you to be examined in either your home country or a neighbouring country with a qualified independent medical examiner.

It is crucial that you or your lawyer receive approval from the TAC for these assessment appointment(s).

What is an impairment claim?

If you do not fully recover from your accident injuries, you may be entitled to a lump sum amount. Your injury will need to be assessed by an independent medical examiner under the AMA guides.

If you receive a permanent impairment score of more than 11%, you will receive approximately $7,880. This amount is indexed each year.

An additional amount will be paid for every 1% of impairment greater than 11%. A 50% impairment entitles you to $86,000 (as at 1 July 2019).

TAC can assess your level of impairment as soon as 3 months after your accident.

If your injuries have not stabilised, TAC can make a part payment of your impairment benefit until your injuries have healed and stabilised; i.e. your injury is unlikely to get any better or worse.

Your right to apply for an impairment assessment may expire 6 years from the date of the accident.

If you have any further questions about how your TAC benefits are impacted when you leave Australia (permanently or temporarily), please do not hesitate to contact Yen Tran at Polaris Lawyers.

Legal advice and assistance during COVID-19

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We are working closely with the courts and our colleagues to ensure services to all new and existing clients are delivered efficiently and with as little disruption as possible.

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