Big News: How ACC Breaks The Law
How ACC Case Managers Break The Law
Much has been made of ACC’s “stock” comments when referring to claimants, and Scoop revealed last week that ACC – related complaints to the Ombudsman doubled in two years.
More than 170 had complained to Catalyst Injury Management Ltd, an ACC subsidiary set up to kick people off ACC, about the handling of their claims before some went to the ombudsman. Claims to the ombudsman are merely the tip of the iceberg and many more complain to the ACC complaints 0800 number sent up for the purpose.
Many complain because they are not receiving the rehabilitation they are entitled to. Here’s why: Many ACC rehabilitation plans that are drawn up by case managers and signed by claimants are illegal.
This is because the Corporation must provide appropriate vocational and social rehabilitation before a rehab plan is signed by a claimant. Yet most rehabilitation does not happen until after a rehabilitation plan is signed, if it happens at all.
Claimants can legally refuse to sign rehabilitation plans if they have not been provided rehabilitation under the Act. Some will not require rehabilitation, yet a rehabilitation plan doesn’t have to be signed until a claimant has been on ACC for 13 weeks.
Chances are some claimants may need rehabilitation long before the 13 weeks is up. Some have rehabilitation plans drafted up early some don’t. However, all claimants are pressured to sign these plans, and if they don’t, the corporation illegally docks entitlements.
So sign them they do and many still don’t receive entitled rehabilitation, which is the reason ACC CEO Gary Wilson says that half those on ACC for longer than a year are still receiving compensation. In short, ACC is failing in its responsibility to uphold provisions in the ACC Act and case managers are acting illegally by not providing necessary rehabilitation before rehabilitation plans are signed - nor are many providing claimants with the help and advice they need.
Rehabilitation plans must identify the assessments to be done, yet many assessments are a surprise to claimants and are not noted on rehabilitation plans. This too is against the law.
So if this is constantly happening, why does Catalyst boss Kaye Laurence say that ACC wants to exit 2000 claimants - 500 more than the ACC targets agreed with the Government – by providing “appropriate rehabilitation” in order that claimants can return to independence?
Apparently, the claimants targeted should be exited from ACC after 18 months as they are seen to be able to respond to rehabilitation sufficiently enough to leave the scheme.
Some claimants who have had some rehabilitation have had their ACC file forwarded to Catalyst for reassessment. This reassessment is designed to remove claimants from the scheme to exceed desired targets. There have been cases where medical assessors provided substandard examinations or have done examinations off file notes.
ACC calls it a test for work capacity but work capacity assessments are designed to assess a claimants readiness to exit the scheme and hasten it as fast as possible. If it is done with in the terms of the ACC Act it is a bonus. If not, it doesn’t matter, the claimant can always apply for review.
It would be interesting to find out how many of the 1350 people docked by Catalyst case managers received appropriate rehabilitation or returned to independence?
How many were docked after their first assessment? No statistics have been done on claimants who have ended up on benefits.
What should really be reviewed is ACC’s methods and procedures for assessing claimants’ needs for rehabilitation. The way ACC staff request and conduct assessments should also be reviewed. The only people who should be docked ACC entitlements are the fit and the fraudsters.