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30.6.1 Delegates have discretion to make interim payments at statutory rates
Last amended: 19 June 2014
Weekly compensation is paid to clients in respect to lost or decreased income i.e. it involves the clients livelihood. As such, incapacity payments may represent vital support to the client who might otherwise suffer considerable financial distress. On that basis, weekly payments in respect to a current period of incapacity should be regarded as urgent and second only to death payments in priority.
Nevertheless, delegates will be aware of the potential for such claims to be delayed for some weeks or months in cases where, although the entitlement to payment is clear, determination of the rate of that payment depends on (late-coming) information from an external agency.
For instance, delegates may be waiting on advice from Defence about the client's rank/pay level at discharge or their entitlement to Commonwealth superannuation.
Alternatively, the claimant may be known to be in receipt of a superannuation pension or lump sum benefit, but information about that benefit (i.e. sufficient for the purposes of Ss20, 21 or 21A) has not yet been supplied by Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC). In cases where a member has been medically discharged and has not yet submitted a claim for invalidity superannuation to CSC, or has indicated they are not intending to submit a claim, a delegate should not pay incapacity benefits above the interim rate. The person should be advised of the process to access superannuation entitlements from CSC and that they should advise the Department of any entitlements once known, and encouraged to submit a claim for invalidity benefits to CSC.
Delegates have no discretion to assume the 'missing' values or to use client's unsupported assertions about superannuation amounts etc. Only information sourced from the responsible organisation is admissible. However delegates do have in these circumstances, a discretion to approve interim payments on the basis of 'minimum earnings' computed under S19(7) – (9) if:
- entitlement to compensation for incapacity has been established;
- the person has requested interim incapacity payments;
- the client has been warned of the potential for overpayment, the consequences thereof, (i.e. recovery action) and explicitly authorises the delegate to proceed with interim payments; and
- the delegate has advise the person of the process to access superannuation entitlements from CSC and that they should advise the Department of any entitlements once known.
This means that interim compensation may be paid at the minimum statutory rate prescribed in S19(7)(a) and as discussed at 30.1.3 of this chapter.