ACC bullies claimants before Christmas
By Dave Crampton
ACC Case Managers and staff at ACC subsidiary Catalyst are sending illegal rehabilitation plans to claimants asking for them to be signed and returned by Christmas. If they are not signed the implication is that entitlements could be cut. One claimant received a letter on the 13th December and was asked to return it by the 19th December.
Scoop had earlier warned that ACC may attempt to disentitle claimants before Christmas and some claimants think that their possible disentitlement could lead to Christmas bonuses for ACC staff.
Rehabilitation plans are a legislative requirement for all claimants who have been on ACC for more than 13 weeks. These plans are designed to assist claimants off the scheme and back to work – or if they had no job prior to the accident, fully rehabilitated. One claimant, who has been on ACC for 10 years, says he has never signed a rehabilitation plan and received his first one last week – and it came as a bit of a surprise.
Yet rehabilitation plans are supposed to be a collaboration between claimants and case managers in a joint effort to rehabilitate claimants off ACC. Claimants say the plans sent last week are shonky as there are relevant details missing from the documents. Claimants are worried they will be kicked off ACC if they don’t sign the plans and say it amounts to nothing less than bullying.
This writer has corresponded with at least three people over the weekend who have received letters from ACC with a return date of either 19 or 21 December. This writer has seen the letter and notes that ACC says that as a rehabilitation plan is a legislative requirement, it has to be returned by 21 December, implying that the date is also part of the legislative requirement – which of course it isn’t.
ACC believes it has the authority to suspend entitlements if claimants refuse to agree to or comply with a rehabilitation plan. Yet ACC claimants have the right to be involved in developing rehabilitation plans, they have a right to be involved in the plan process and preparation and they have a right to refer that plan to their doctor.
However, Schedule 1 clause 8 (2) & (3) confers discretionary power on ACC to implement the plan with or without the claimant's agreement or signature after a reasonable time period. This may negate ACC's power to suspend because it has the power to implement the plan regardless.
Even if some claimants sign the rehabilitation plans they have the right to go to review on these plans if they later do not agree with them. If they were found to have signed under duress and with no adequate time frame to refer the plans to a GP or lawyer, they would most likely win the review and waste ACC’s time. The case manager will have to draft up another rehabilitation plan and go through the process correctly.
So why the haste before Christmas? Six days is not a reasonable time period to sign and return a rehabilitation plan, discuss it with a doctor, a case manager and an advocate merely because case managers want to “sort it out” before they go on Christmas leave with good exit figures.
Maybe all claimants who have
no rehabilitation plan should go to review on their file and
those who are getting rushed rehabilitation plans should
request a copy of their file and find out why, all of a
sudden, their file needs a rehabilitation plan.