ACC Bill to provide better support to Kiwis abroad and superannuitants

ACC

The Accident Compensation Amendment Bill, which has passed first reading in Parliament today, will provide greater support to New Zealand families and working superannuitants, says the Minister for ACC Iain Lees-Galloway.

“The Government supports ACC as a national taonga and it has, for the most part, provided tremendous support to generations of New Zealanders,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.

“There is a small number of gaps in the scheme which currently mean that some people may miss out on cover, and this Bill addresses a range of issues to help uphold the high expectations that New Zealanders have for ACC’s support.

“This Bill addresses the gap in coverage for families of employees who are posted overseas in the course of their employment. It proposes to extend ACC cover to the spouses or partners and dependents of New Zealand employees posted offshore.

“This is an important change to make as we do not want to discourage people from representing New Zealand’s interests offshore if they feel that they cannot keep their families together without risk.

“The Bill also removes the requirement for ACC claimants to choose between weekly compensation and New Zealand Superannuation after receiving a year of both.

“This aligns with the Government’s manifesto commitment to review the restrictions on superannuitants being able to receive both weekly compensation and New Zealand superannuation, given the changing nature of the over 65 workforce.

“Many New Zealanders today continue to work after the age of 65 and are able to receive superannuation alongside any earnings from work. The current restrictions disadvantage our most vulnerable Kiwis, injured at work after the age of superannuation eligibility, meaning they are not getting the weekly compensation they need while recovering from injuries.

“This change will ensure that the income they receive will be a closer reflection of their financial situation had they not been injured.

The historic Accident Compensation Appeal Authority will be disestablished. Maintaining it is no longer cost effective or efficient, given the low number of appeals to the Authority. This amendment is in line with this Government’s intentions to remove the complexity and cost that arises when it is not clear whether the Authority or the District Court should hear an appeal.

“Following the disestablishment of the Authority, all new appeals under the repealed 1972 and 1982 Acts will be heard by the District Court,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

Other amendments proposed under the Bill will:

  • clarify the current transitional provisions to ensure that all claimants who are close to, or above, superannuation qualification age receive up to 24 months of weekly compensation;
  • allow surviving spouses and dependents to receive up to five years of weekly compensation, regardless of age;
  • move from an annual review to a biennial review of the Accident Compensation (Liability to Pay or Contribute to the Cost of Treatment) Regulations 2003;
  • automatically update the maximum and minimum liable earnings to the minimum wage and the Labour Cost Index respectively to improve the workability of biennial levy rounds; and

“These changes will help create a fairer social insurance scheme for New Zealanders,” Mr Lees-Galloway says.