When you’re covered by ACC, and when you’re not
Sexual abuse: Cover for resulting mental harm
ACC cover for mental harm caused by sexual abuse
Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 21, Schedule 3
ACC covers you if you’ve suffering from depression or other mental harm because you’ve been sexually abused. You don’t have to have suffered any physical injury, but to get the full range of ACC assistance you must have a diagnosed mental injury, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The sexual abuse you’ve experienced doesn’t have to be the only cause of your mental injury, but it does have to be a cause.
There’s a special claims process for this type of claim, which is dealt with by a special unit at ACC.
How do I start the process of getting ACC help?
You start the process by talking to a therapist or other health professional. If you feel comfortable talking to your GP, you can begin with them, or instead you can contact a therapist who specialises in this area. To find a therapist, contact a support organisation like Sexual Abuse HELP or Rape Crisis, or go to ACC‘s “Find Support” website www.findsupport.co.nz and click on “Find a therapist”.
What therapy and financial help is available for mental harm caused by sexual abuse?
You’re entitled to some initial therapy sessions paid for by ACC before ACC does an assessment of whether you’ve suffered a recognised mental injury as a result of the sexual abuse. Those initial sessions can help you decide if you want to go through an ACC assessment, which will include giving ACC full information about yourself and what happened. If you do go ahead with an ACC assessment, the assessor will usually be a clinical psychologist, but sometimes a different type of therapist.
If the assessment concludes that you’re covered by ACC, you’ll have access to a full range of ACC entitlements, such as long-term therapy or counselling, compensation for loss of income if your ability to work has been affected (see “Costs covered by ACC: Treatment, compensation and other support” in this chapter), “lump-sum” compensation for permanent harm caused by the abuse (see “Lump-sum payments for permanent disabilities”), and also help for your family or whānau.
Your right to an independent review if ACC reject your claim
As with ACC decisions for other types of claims, you can appeal to an independent reviewer if ACC turns down your claim for mental harm caused by sexual abuse. For example, if ACC‘s assessor decides there’s not a strong enough causal link between your mental condition and the abuse you suffered, you can challenge that on appeal. You can also appeal if ACC accepts your claim generally but refuses you a specific form of assistance like lump-sum compensation. For more details, see “Challenging an ACC decision”.