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Aggravation of Signs and Symptoms s30
Aggravations of signs and symptoms are subject to the same permanent impairment (PI) consideration as other service injuries or diseases. Clients who have had aggravation of signs and symptoms accepted under section 30 of MRCA will not be automatically disqualified from claiming PI on the basis of the assumed temporary nature of their aggravation. Instead, a claim for PI should only be rejected where they do not meet the criteria for PI provided in Chapter 4, Part 2 of the MRCA, based on medical and other relevant evidence. Whilst there is a reasonable assumption that a claim for liability under s30 will by its very nature not attract a claim for PI, this should not be the only reason provided for rejecting such a claim.
Section 30 of MRCA allows claims to be considered for signs and symptoms of an injury or disease sustained or contracted while the person was a member rendering defence service, or where a pre-existing sign or symptom was materially contributed to, or aggravated by their service. The explanatory memorandum to section 30 provides that while accepted aggravations are compensable under MRCA, only permanent aggravation or worsening contributed to by defence service can attract compensable periodic payments for permanent impairment.
While, in general, cases involving the aggravation of signs and symptoms usually result in a short term or temporary aggravation, this may not always be the situation. Therefore each case must be assessed on its own merits. For this reason, the determination of liability should never state whether or not an aggravated condition is of a temporary or permanent nature. Nor should any determination state in advance a period during which compensation will be available. This means that PI claims cannot be automatically rejected based on the fact that liability has been accepted under s30 in isolation. Instead, each case must be considered on its own merits against the criteria set out in chapter 4 Part 2. In the majority of cases, particularly where the liability decision is recent, the evidence on file used to determine the claim under s30 will be sufficient to satisfy the PI delegate that Chapter 4 Part 2 criteria has not been met. However if this is not the case, then further investigation and medical assessment may be necessary.
Eligibility to receive PI is therefore dependent on a claim meeting the criteria provided in Chapter 4, Part 2 and not the head of liability under which DVA has accepted liability.
In summary, the Commonwealth is only liable to pay compensation under Chapter 4 Part 2 to the extent of the contribution or aggravation and only for as long as the worsening, aggravation or contribution applies.
Section 30 should be used where the signs or symptoms of a pre-existing condition are aggravated by defence service. That is, where defence service has not aggravated the underlying pathology of a pre-existing condition. Accepting liability under this section will not automatically prevent a PI claim being considered. Claims for PI must be considered based on the eligibility criteria set out in Chapter 4 part 2.
PI will be payable if it is considered that any impairment resulting from the aggravation will continue indefinitely, is stable and meets the minimum threshold for payment of PI. Legislative requirements will apply regardless of the section under which liability has been assessed. Liability for the aggravation will continue even if the member is not eligible or has ceased to be eligible for the compensation or benefit.