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5.7.2 Investigation of NEL Scores
NEL scores are usually established during an interview process between the assessing medical practitioner and the client. However there are some occasions where the client will complete the form independently of a doctor. One example could be for hearing loss where the initial examination would be solely to identify actual compensable loss of hearing. Establishing the appropriate score involves subjective considerations and often the descriptions in the Guide do not precisely correlate to a client's exact circumstances.
Some clients may have a tendency to exaggerate the effects of the impairment while others may adopt a stoical attitude and downplay the real effects of pain from their impairments upon their lifestyle.
The assessing doctor and the client will usually indicate whether there is disagreement or a discrepancy in the scores arising from the interview process.
As the delegate you should satisfy yourself that the NEL scores appear reasonably proportionate to the condition suffered. For instance, a high pain rating may be accompanied by evidence of a proportionate use of pain relief remedies such as medication, massage etc.
The delegate should also be satisfied that the pain is due to the compensable condition that is being assessed and is not contributed to by other factors. Any adjustments made to NEL scores must be explained and documented on the file and in the determination.
A common sense approach should be adopted where differences in the client's opinion of the effect of the impairment and the delegate's opinion are marginal.
In summary the NEL scores are a snapshot as at time of assessment. No recognition should be made of speculation on future impacts under the various headings of the NEL process. Naturally only the permanent effects under the NEL categories should be recognised.