Most people need some time off work after sustaining an injury. If this injury occurred at work or in the course of your employment, you would likely be entitled to WorkCover payments of weekly compensation. But what happens if you can’t get back to work for a very long time or can’t go back to work at all? This article will examine how long your entitlement to weekly payments will last and what happens once you’ve been on WorkCover in Victoria for more than 130 weeks.
How long can I claim payments of weekly compensation for?
Your entitlement to weekly payments of compensation lasts for 130 weeks, which is about 2 and a half years.
This period of time does not need to be used consecutively. For example, you may injure your knee at work and take a couple off weeks off to rest it before going back to work. However, you might later require surgery on the knee and then need a further period of time off work to recuperate. As long as your incapacity for work is still materially or significantly contributed to by your work-related injury, you can continue to access your pool of 130 weeks of payments.
There are some exceptions to this.
Generally, your entitlement to weekly payments ends once you reach retirement age, unless you were injured within 130 weeks of, or after, your legal retirement age.
Furthermore, if you reach a common law settlement (a claim available to injured workers where someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to their injury) or another type of agreement in relation to your entitlement to weekly payments, you may not be able to access the full 130 weeks. Also, if your WorkCover claim was made before 1 January 2005, your total pool of payments will be 104 weeks, not 130.
What happens after 130 weeks on WorkCover in Victoria?
Once you have received 130 weeks of payments, your entitlement stops. Your payments can’t just abruptly end. You need to be given 13 weeks’ notice before your weekly payments are terminated.
There are however some circumstances where you can continue to receive weekly payments of compensation after you have received your 130 weeks of payments.
No work capacity for any work
If you have received 130 weeks of payments, you may still be able to receive weekly payments of compensation if you can show that you have “no current work capacity that is likely to continue indefinitely.” This is a very difficult test to meet.
There are two main parts to the test.
- “No current work capacity” means that you have no capacity to work at all in suitable employment. It is not limited to the work you were performing before your injury. It includes any suitable work. Along with your injury, factors such as your age, where you live, your skills and experience and your ability to retrain will be considered when assessing what employment might be suitable for you.
- “Likely to continue indefinitely” means that your current incapacity to work is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. For example, if you currently have no capacity for suitable work, but your doctors anticipate you will be able to work in 6 months’ time, you would not meet this test.
Reduced capacity for work
You can apply for WorkCover weekly payments of compensation after 130 weeks if you meet ALL of the following criteria:
- You are working at least 15 hours per week;
- You are receiving weekly earnings of at least $220 per week (this amount is indexed annually);
- You are incapable of completing any additional work which would increase your weekly earnings; and
- This incapacity (to increase your weekly earnings) is likely to continue indefinitely.
If you meet ALL of the above criteria, you can continue to receive weekly payments. Your payment amount would be the difference between 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings (known as your “PIAWE”) and 80% of your actual weekly earnings.
Consider this scenario as an example:
- You hurt your back at work.
- Your pre-injury average weekly earnings were $1,000.
- Due to your age, education and skills, your suitable employment options are limited to manual labour type roles.
- However, due to your back injury, you can only work up to 20 hours per week so that you can space out your hours and rest your back between shifts.
- Your doctor tells you that you will not improve any further and that this is the most you will be able to work for the foreseeable future.
- You are currently working 20 hours per week and earning $500 per week for this work.
In these circumstances, you could apply to continue receiving weekly payments of compensation after 130 weeks. If your application is successful, you would receive WorkCover weekly payments of $400 (the difference between 80% of $1,000 and 80% of $500). You may also be entitled to superannuation contributions.
If you have received 130 weeks of payments, you may be entitled to further payments of compensation if you require surgery. There are several criteria you need to meet to be entitled to these extra payments. If entitled, you can receive up to 13 weeks of payments. This period needs to be used consecutively.
At Polaris, we are experts in WorkCover compensation claims. We’ve successfully represented many clients in relation to their workers’ compensation claims.
For advice or assistance with any aspect of your WorkCover claim, please get in touch directly with Polaris Lawyers. It doesn’t cost you anything to find out if you have a claim.