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Communtity Law Manual | Accident compensation (ACC) | Rehabilitation: Helping you regain your independence

Costs covered by ACC: Treatment, compensation and other support

Rehabilitation: Helping you regain your independence

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 70

If you’re covered by ACC, you’re entitled to rehabilitation services to help you regain your health and your independence as much as practicable. You’re responsible for taking an active part in your rehabilitation with the goal of leading as normal a life as possible, given your injuries.

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 6

You’re entitled to:

  • social rehabilitation – to restore your independence in your everyday life
  • vocational rehabilitation – to restore your independence in your working life.

How your rehabilitation plan is decided

Accident Compensation Act 2001, ss 75–80 & Schedule 1, clauses 7–10

If you need longer-term support (more than 13 weeks), ACC will prepare an Individual Rehabilitation Plan for you as part of deciding what treatment and rehabilitation you need. The plan will set out targets and appropriate services and support. It will be updated so that it records the steps as you get better, including the results of occupational and medical assessments.

Your Individual Rehabilitation Plan must include:

  • the outcome that’s aimed for and a target date (for example, going back to your old job in three months)
  • necessary initial assessments (occupational and medical)
  • any treatment or rehabilitation that’s in place or about to be approved, and whether ACC will fund this
  • the services that are appropriate in your case, and
  • when you and your ACC case manager will meet next to monitor your progress.

ACC must meet the cost of preparing the plan as well as the cost of any assessments agreed in the plan.

ACC must develop the plan “in consultation with” you (and with your representative, if you want to have one). You have a right to negotiate the contents of the plan with ACC. If ACC simply presents you with a draft plan to sign, this probably falls short of real “consultation”. An Individual Rehabilitation Plan is sometimes described as a “contract”, with rights and responsibilities for both parties.

Note: You should normally get advice from a lawyer before you sign an Individual Rehabilitation Plan.

Developing an Individual Rehabilitation Plan involves negotiation. You may need mediation to reach a reasonable resolution to disputes around the contents of the plan. If you unreasonably refuse to agree to the plan ACC have proposed, ACC can finalise the plan and treat it as if you agreed to it, or it can refuse to provide you with something you’d otherwise be entitled to, such as weekly compensation.

If you have a problem with your Individual Rehabilitation Plan, including if ACC take away entitlements because you didn’t follow the plan, you can apply for a review (see “Challenging an ACC decision” in this chapter).

Independence in your everyday life: Social rehabilitation

Accident Compensation Act 2001, ss 79, 81–84, Schedule 1, clauses 12–23

Social rehabilitation is help provided by ACC to make you independent again, as far as possible, in your everyday life, outside work.

You’re entitled to:

  • aids, appliances and equipment
  • personal care (“attendant care”)
  • childcare (for children under 14)
  • education support if your injury is causing you difficulties at school
  • home help (including help with cleaning, laundry and shopping)
  • modifications to your home (like adding handrails)
  • training – for example, in how to use the equipment you’ve been given
  • transport – including the cost of public transport, and help with buying or modifying a vehicle.

ACC also has discretion to provide other social rehabilitation, if this other rehabilitation would help you become more independent. This could include help to restore your independence in: cognitive tasks of ordinary daily living (like listening, planning your day, and getting tasks done); communicating; domestic activities; taking part in education; managing money; health care; keeping clean; mobility; motivation; keeping safe; and sexuality. For example, ACC can agree to provide you with sexual dysfunction products such as Viagra, to help restore your independence in the area of sexuality.

There will be assessments and reassessments to ensure that the social rehabilitation you’re getting is:

  • required as a direct result of the personal injury (caused by accident) that is covered by ACC
  • intended to restore your independence to the greatest extent (within reason)
  • necessary, appropriate and good enough to do the job
  • of the type normally offered by a provider
  • agreed in the Individual Rehabilitation Plan (if you have one).

Helping you get back to work: Vocational rehabilitation

Accident Compensation Act 2001, ss 6, 80, 85–96, Schedule 1, Part 1, Clauses 24–29

Vocational rehabilitation is help provided by ACC to restore your independence in your working life. It’s aimed at helping you either:

  • keep your current job, or
  • find a job that’s suitable and appropriate for your training and experience, or
  • regain your “vocational independence” – this means being able to work full-time (30 hours or more a week) in work that you’re suited to because of your experience, education or training.

ACC has to provide you with vocational rehabilitation if you:

  • are unable to work in your pre-injury job and so are entitled to weekly compensation (see “Weekly compensation, including first-week compensation”, earlier in this section)
  • will have to stop work and get weekly compensation if you don’t get vocational rehabilitation
  • are injured while on parental leave.

    Note: Vocational rehabilitation usually isn’t available if you weren’t working at the time of your injury.

Vocational rehabilitation is always provided as part of an Individual Rehabilitation Plan, which should include an appropriate rehabilitation path (see above: “How your rehabilitation plan is decided”).

ACC must identify whether it’s reasonably possible for you to go back to your pre-injury job with the same employer. If it isn’t, ACC must work out which of the following four other options are appropriate for you:

  • finding a different job with the same employer
  • finding the same type of work with a different employer
  • finding a different job with a different employer, using your existing skills, or
  • getting additional help from ACC for you to use your pre-injury skills to find work.

Examples of vocational rehabilitation include:

  • transport to and from work
  • special equipment for the workplace
  • occupational assessments
  • medical assessments
  • preparing to look for a job
  • programmes to build skills and confidence.

The types of help you’ll get will depend on the rehabilitation path that’s been chosen, your particular needs and the particular barriers you face. For example:

  • if the rehabilitation is directed at keeping you in your pre-injury job, it may include a workplace assessment and help such as special equipment or short-term transport assistance to get you to and from work
  • if you can’t go back to your old job, you’ll have an initial occupational assessment to identify your skills and work options. In deciding what work options are suitable for you, the assessor must take into account, among other things, how much you were earning before your injury.

When does vocational rehabilitation come to an end?

If you can’t go back to your old job and you can’t find a new job, the vocational rehabilitation provided by ACC stops when you’re able to work full-time in some job for which you’re suited by your training, experience and so on (that is, when you have “vocational independence”).

But ACC doesn’t have to keep helping until you actually have a job.

The maximum period of time for ACC-funded vocational rehabilitation is usually three years.

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