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Costs covered by ACC: Treatment, compensation and other support

Loss of income

Weekly compensation (weekly ACC payments)

Accident Compensation Act 2001, ss 97–106, 112, 113; Schedule 1, clauses 32–53

Weekly compensation is compensation for loss of income or loss of the ability to earn money as a result of your injury. You’re paid 80 percent of your pre-injury weekly earnings, up to a weekly maximum.

ACC starts paying weekly compensation only after your first week of being off work. However, if you were injured at work, your boss has to pay you compensation in the first week. If your injury didn’t happen at work, you don’t get any compensation for the first week, either from ACC or your boss.

If you have some income during the period of incapacity from your injury, ACC will reduce the amount of weekly compensation they pay you.

You qualify for weekly compensation both if you’re an employee and if you’re self-employed. (This includes independent contractors.).

You may also qualify for weekly compensation even though you recently stopped working. This applies if:

  • your final pay covers the period since you stopped work
  • you were injured within four weeks after stopping work and you’d arranged to return or start a new job within three months (or within 12 months if you’re a seasonal worker)
  • you were injured while on parental leave.

Qualifying for weekly compensation: The “incapacity” test

If you were working when you were injured and you’re unable to work because of the injury, you’ll qualify for weekly compensation.

You’ll also qualify if you were on parental leave when you were injured, if your injury means you’re unable to go back to work when your parental leave ends. Your entitlement to weekly compensation begins from the date you would otherwise have had to go back to work at the end of the parental leave.

The test is different if:

  • you had stopped working for a short time
  • you had bought the right to weekly compensation
  • you were under 18 when you were injured, or were in full-time study that you began when you were still under 18 (you’re called a “potential earner” in those situations).

In those cases, the test for whether you’ll get weekly compensation is: Does your injury stop you doing the kind of work you’re qualified for?

How long will I get weekly compensation for?

Usually, you’ll get weekly compensation until you’re able to do your job again. But if you’re permanently incapable of doing your pre-injury job, ACC doesn’t usually allow you to get weekly compensation indefinitely (although this does happen in some cases – for example, with serious brain or spinal injuries).

Instead, when your vocational rehabilitation is finished, you’re assessed on the basis of the “vocational independence” test – that is, whether you’re capable of working full-time in a job for which you’re suited by your experience, education or training. In deciding what kinds of jobs you’re suited for, the assessors have to take into account how much you were earning before you were injured.

If the assessors decide you do have vocational independence, your weekly compensation will continue for another three months and then it will stop.

If you can’t find a job during those three months, you’ll need to register with Work and Income to apply for a benefit, such as jobseeker support (see the chapter “Dealing with Work and Income”).

If your condition gets worse later on, so that you no longer have vocational independence, you can reapply to ACC for weekly compensation.

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