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11.2 Relationship of Incapacity for work to 'Impairment'

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Incapacity should not be confused with 'impairment', which is also defined by the SRCA, i.e. at S4(1).

Briefly, an impairment means damage or malfunction of the body or a bodily system. It includes psychiatric disabilities. An impairment may be temporary or permanent. Permanent impairments are not compensated by weekly payments, but by means of a lump sum under Sections 24 and 27 of the SRCA. In contrast, the meaning of 'incapacity' relates specifically to an inability to work. See 11.1 on the previous pages.

Some clients mistakenly assert that they should continue to be paid weekly payments while they continue to experience an impairment, however a bodily impairment and an incapacity for work are not one and the same. Damage to the body (or psychiatric effects) may of course lead to an incapacity for work in many cases. Nevertheless this is not necessarily so in all cases. Furthermore, 'incapacity' means an actual inability to work, (or work at the same level) and does not mean merely that work while possible is now more painful, more difficult, harder to obtain or less pleasant than before.

Capacity for work is clearly a separate issue to the persistence of the effects of an injury. Capacity or incapacity for work is demonstrated by medical and other criteria which are different to those used for measuring impairment. It is an assessed ability to engage in suitable employment under all the circumstances. If the persistent effects of an injury prevent employment in one field (perhaps the clients preference), but not in an alternative, equally remunerative suitable employment, it can not be said the client is 'incapacitated for all employment'.

In this respect, see 11.1 re: 'incapacitated for all work' and 32.2 re: 'suitable employment'.