How long can I remain on workers compensation?

Workers compensation gives workers access to benefits if they’re injured or become unwell because of their job. The goal is to support the worker to recover and return to work, where possible.

However, there are conditions attached to these benefits, including how long you can stay on workers compensation. The time frame depends on factors like the extent of your injury, the type of help you need to recover and when you can return to work. So if you’re asking yourself “how long can i remain on workers compensation” then you’ve come to the right place.

Each state and territory has its own workers compensation scheme, so you should check the scheme guidelines where you live. This article relates to Queensland and NSW.

Types of workers compensation benefits

Queensland and NSW workers compensation schemes can provide various benefits, including:

Weekly payments: These benefits cover a percentage of your lost wages if you can’t work due to your injuries. Percentages and amounts differ across states and territories.

Medical care benefits: These benefits cover treatments, medication, GP visits, physical therapy, travel expenses, mobility equipment, and home and vehicle modifications that relate to your work-related injuries.

Rehabilitation benefits: These benefits cover the rehab you need to help you recover, as well as return-to-work programs.

Death benefits: These benefits cover funeral and burial expenses for a worker who has died from work-related injuries (paid to dependents).

How long you can stay on workers compensation

Generally, WorkCover provides benefits until you either return to work after your claim once recovered or your injury is assessed as being a permanent impairment. The time frame depends on a range of factors.

Weekly payments

Weekly payments cease when any of these occur:

  • You’ve fully recovered and returned to work.
  • You’ve received weekly payments for 5 years (260 weeks) in Queensland and NSW (except for certain exempt workers, such as police officers and paramedics).
  • You’ve reached the maximum amount of weekly compensation payable to you.
  • You’ve received a lump sum due to a permanent impairment of 20% or more.
  • You’ve reached retirement age (or 12 months after retirement age in NSW).

Medical treatment

Even when your weekly payments stop at 260 weeks, you will still receive any medical treatment you need, depending on your impairment.

Your insurer and medical professional will work with you to determine the support you need at this time in order for you to get rehabilitation after your injury.

Permanent impairment compensation

You might be eligible for a lump sum payment if you have a permanent impairment from a workplace injury. This means your injuries have become ‘stable and stationary’ but are unlikely to recover fully.

The lump sum amount will depend on the extent of your permanent impairment. A medical examiner will assess your percentage of impairment and tell you how much you’re eligible to receive.

We recommend getting independent legal advice before accepting a lump sum offer to ensure it’s the right decision for you.

Does workers compensation cover total and permanent disability?

If you meet the criteria for both a workers compensation claim and a total and permanent disability claim, you may be able to receive both payments.

You would claim total permanent disability benefits through your superannuation fund rather than workers compensation. But you should get legal advice to find out how to make a TPD claim and to see which approach is right for you.

Getting legal assistance

At Main Lawyers, our WorkCover lawyers have experience in helping clients like yourself to get the compensation they deserve. Our team can help you to understand your rights when it comes to workers compensation.

Our lawyers can meet with you to discuss your situation and consider your options. Contact us for an obligation-free chat today.

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