Five-year limit placed on compensation payments

Angela Catallo
Professional Support Officer

The 260-week rule is a blow to injured workers

Injured workers in NSW continue to face the negative effects of the legislative changes implemented by the state government with the latest known change being cessation of weekly payments after 260 weeks or five years.

The 2012 legislation set artificial cut-off points for access to weekly payments and medical expenses that disregarded the needs of the injured worker.

These changes are found in Section 39 of the legislation. Any affected injured workers should be contacted by the insurer with sufficient notice to seek advice from their union and lawyer. Any members who receive such letters or believe they are affected should contact the Federation’s Professional Support Section on 1300 654 367 or email pso@nswtf.org.au.

Section 39 states that weekly payments can only be claimed for a maximum of 260 weeks (five years) unless the injured worker has medical evidence of a whole person impairment (WPI) of more than 20 per cent. For injuries on or after 1 October 2012 the 260 weeks begins on the date of injury and for workers injured prior to that, their 260 weeks began on 1 January 2012.

The 260-week rule overrides earlier decisions of the Workers Compensation Commission, especially determinations to pay weekly payments until retirement age. Any workers who were on weekly payments prior to October 2012 and take no action to show they are suffering from over 20 per cent WPI will find their payments cease around Boxing Day 2017.

The only way to ascertain your WPI is by attending a medical assessment. Workers who are close to the 260-week cut-off need to seek legal advice as funding can be arranged for this medical appointment. Federation provides legal advice for members who were financial at the time of the injury, if members have retired, they can still seek advice from Federation about existing claims.