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Older workers to benefit from ACC law change

Hon Maryan Street
Minister for ACC

!1 October 2008 Media Statement
Older workers to benefit from ACC law change
Under embargo until 12.30am

Injured New Zealanders who are over 65 and want to return to the workforce will have better access to vocational rehabilitation under a law change which comes into effect today, says ACC Minister Maryan Street.

This follows changes made to the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001 earlier this year which extended or improved ACC cover on a number of fronts – most of which are already in force.

“The improved access to vocational rehabilitation for older New Zealanders recognises that increasing numbers of people over 65 still wish to work and should be given the same support as other workers,” Maryan Street said.

“People over 65 who are working are entitled to weekly compensation for up to two years if they are injured. Over 65s are eligible for both compensation and superannuation for the first year, but have to elect one or the other for the second year,” Maryan Street said.

“People who become entitled to weekly compensation in the two years leading to the age of 65 are also entitled to receive it for a period afterwards, but there are similar phase-out clauses.

“However before today, only over 65s already receiving weekly compensation were entitled to vocational rehabilitation – or return to work assistance. This was generally for no longer than two years,” Maryan Street said.

“From today, they will also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation if they are on superannuation and that period of entitlement will extend to three years and beyond if ACC determines it will help them back into the workforce.”

“So greater numbers of over 65s will be able to get vocational rehabilitation and for longer periods, which is great news.”

“About 2000 new weekly compensation claimants each year are over 65. The majority return to work after injury,” Maryan Street said.

“The change comes into effect on the same day that superannuation increases by $45.88 a fortnight for a married couple and free off-peak public transport becomes available. It is further evidence that the Labour-led government can be trusted to deliver for older New Zealanders.

“Unsurprisingly, National voted against the ACC law changes. It is somewhat ironic given National was happy to be led into the last election by a leader who was over 65 - yet appears to think that other older New Zealanders either shouldn’t work, or shouldn’t gain similar entitlements to others.

“Of course, if National is able to privatise the scheme we will see significantly reduced cover, entitlements and services for all New Zealanders,” Maryan Street said.


ENDS

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