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2.7.1 Background to Deeming a Client Able to Earn
There has always been a strong return to work focus in DVA’s administration of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), which stems from Comcare's rehabilitation and return to work model. However, DVA’s rehabilitation approach is a whole-of-person approach, which emphasises that the person’s needs and circumstances beyond that only related to return to work must always be considered when making decisions.
DVA’s rehabilitation process has traditionally presupposed that a client would be considered or deemed able to earn (AE) once they have successfully achieved the vocational goals of a rehabilitation program, irrespective of whether or not the person is actually in paid employment. Once a person is deemed AE, their incapacity payments would cease (or be adjusted) in line with their newly demonstrated earning/work capacity.
However, it is important that deeming is not applied too early, and that the principles outlined in principle 28 of section 1.4.2 of the Rehabilitation Policy Library underpin decision making. This principle states that: "If the person can show genuine yet unsuccessful attempts to obtain employment they will not be “deemed” when suitable employment is not possible." This is particularly important where a person has episodic mental health conditions that may mean that they need to access treatment and stop job seeking when their symptoms flare.