Policy & Procedure

An assessment of permanent impairment should not be undertaken until after any reasonable rehabilitative treatment has been completed. When considering whether an impairment is likely to continue indefinitely a delegate should give consideration to whether the claimant has undertaken all reasonable rehabilitative treatment for that impairment.

What is 'reasonable' rehabilitative treatment is a matter of fact in each individual case that should be based on the opinions of rehabilitation experts and other medical professionals. It would not be reasonable to defer consideration of permanence if a client is unwilling to undertake major surgery, if the inherent risks and likelihood of failure outweigh any benefits that the surgery may provide. However, if treatment exists for a person that will improve the person's impairment, and their refusal to undertake the treatment is unreasonable, then compensation may not be payable.

If a person is willing to undertake rehabilitative treatment but has been unable to do so yet, their impairment is not considered permanent, a final assessment would not be appropriate, therefore a delegate may wish to consider an interim assessment. For further discussion, see the 'Requirement to Undertake Reasonable Medical Treatment' section in Chapter 4.5.3.    

The treating specialist should be asked for an estimate of when the condition could be considered for assessment. As a general rule, a post-operative recovery period or active treatment program of at least 6 months can be taken as a reasonable time before assessment of level of impairment could be made. Also, a pragmatic approach to the likely benefit from any treatment must be considered. Even though a treating specialist may identify that the person is undergoing treatment for the condition, if the opinion or evidence points to no possible improvement in the condition, a final assessment should be considered.