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4.7.4 The time period during which the employee could reasonably have been expected to continue supporting each dependant should be taken into account
When ascertaining the loss that each dependant has suffered, it is appropriate to give consideration to the length of time that the deceased employee could reasonably have been expected to continue supporting that dependant.
For a spouse or partner, it is reasonable to assume that the relevant period of loss is from the date of the employee's death until the date when he or she would have reached statutory retirement age. This is because that period has a causal connection with the cessation of the employee's earnings. This may also be the relevant period of loss for other dependants such as a disabled child whose economic dependence is likely to continue throughout their lifetime.
For a dependent child, it may be reasonable to assume, in many cases, that the relevant period of economic loss is from the date of the employee's death until the child reaches 18 years of age, unless they are in full time education. However, the use of this age is for illustrative purposes only, and not prescriptive. In determining the likely period of a dependant's economic dependence, the decision maker must exercise his or her discretion, having regard to the total circumstances of the case.
The period (in weeks) over which the employee could have been expected to continue to provide economic support is established considering:
- the shorter of the employee's (had he/she not been killed) or the dependant's life expectancy (using the Australian Statistician's 'Life Tables' referred to in Sect 137 of the SRCA)
- in the case of children under 16 – when he/she will be reaching 25
- in the case of children between 16 and 25 – either when he/she will reach 25 OR the anticipated completion of the course of study (whichever is earlier).
The delegate retains discretion to adopt a different approach
The decision maker should clearly document the relative apportionment of the lump sum to all dependent dependants, especially in situations where the delegate has reasons to adopt a different approach to the apportionment of the lump sum between the various dependants, or if he or she considers that the application of the above principles would produce a result which would not reasonably correspond with the respective economic losses suffered by each of the dependants.