Gutting ACC – it’s just not fair: Vocational independence

This is the first in a series of blog posts I’m doing to explain National’s plans to gut ACC and highlight how unfair they are.

One of the proposed changes is to vocational independence assessments.  These assessments are used by ACC to decide if an ACC claimant receiving weekly compensation for loss of earnings is fit to return to suitable work.  If a claimant is found to be fit to return to suitable work, his or her weekly compensation stops three months later if the claimant has not already gone back to his or her pre-injury job or found another one.

The assessment consists of two parts.  Currently, these are:

  • A vocational assessment to determine what types of work are suitable for the claimant on the basis of the claimant’s skills, experience and earnings before his or her incapacity.
  • A medical assessment to determine whether the claimant is fit to work at least 35 hours in any of those types of work.

ACC Minister Nick Smith is proposing to remove the requirement that the vocational assessment of suitable work takes into account a claimant’s earnings before his or her incapacity, and to reduce to 30 the minimum number of hours a claimant must assessed under the medical assessment as being able to work to be considered vocationally independent.

So, under Smith’s proposal, a claimant who was earning, say, $1500 a week before his or her injury will be booted off weekly compensation if he or she is found to be able to do some  job for 30 hours a week that pays only the minimum wage.  That’s just $375 a week.

As Sue Bradford pointed out a couple of days ago, an injured aircraft engineer will lose his or her weekly compensation if found to be able to work as a carpark attendant.

I can’t see how that fits under the purpose clause in the legislation that governs ACC, which requires that “…during their rehabilitation, claimants receive fair compensation for loss from injury…”

It’s just not fair!

9 thoughts on “Gutting ACC – it’s just not fair: Vocational independence

  1. Nope – not fair, but surely that is the Govt’s aim? then thay can scrap it all together in favour of private medical insurance.

    Now that would make bigs bucks for a few people! And SME’s would be screwed by insurance premiums, which in Ireland’s system are sometimes equivalent to the wages bill.

    Also in Ireland, citizens are ever alert for an opportunity to sue one another.

    Great for insurance companies and lawyers! But like NZ Inc.’s property investment bent, it distorts and hinders the productive sector.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 (+6)

  2. Yep, McTap, I’m very suspicious of the underlying agenda here too. I think frog is pretty much spot on with the spoof logo he or she is using for these posts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 (+4)

  3. ACC is one melting mucous covered mammoth, drifting up from the big melt in Antarctica – something must be done.
    Can the Nat/Act/Maori alliance see it? – not a chance frog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  4. It beggars belief that when Obama is attempting to bring in some ‘public option’ to repair the damage being done to the fabric of society,in the widest sense, in America, that National seem hellbent on taking NZ down the suicidal road to ‘Private Health Care’. So private that only the well-off can afford to have good cover, while the doctors, hospitals, Big Pharma, lawyers, plus several types of hangers-on make mega bucks.

    Don’t see the US House & Senate doing ANYTHING under ‘urgency’ – do we ?
    Oh, except go to war perhaps now the Pres. has the power with both Houses letting him, ‘on the nod’ – thanks G Dubbya.

    Thought I’d never have to dirty my hands with that name again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  5. @toad 10:07 AM – Yep, that one’s on my list, but probably not till next week. You make some pretty good points about it on your g.blog post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  6. Frog. Its not fair now.
    Can I ask why, in complaining about this, you didnt likewise complain when this was already happening under a Labour government – people were being forced off ACC to do menial jobs in the very ways you criticise National of. Of course its not fair – but its hypocritical for you to complain now without addressing the current situation which is even worse – not only does ACC ignore earnings in a vocab assessment, it is attempting to avoid taking into account skills and experience as well. Instead, claimants are deemed to be able to work 35 hours a week on a menial job which doesnt exist, subsequently gets kicked off,ACC, goes on the sickness benefit, where you cant be on if WINZ assesses you to be able to work 30 hours a week. One govt departments says one thing, a second says another and the injured lose out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  7. davec, the Greens did complain about it when Labour was in government.

    Here, here, here and here – just for starters.

    Sue Bradford has also had a Bill that would abolish the vocational independence exiting process in the Members’ ballot on several occasions, but has never had the luck to have it drawn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

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