I’ve heard I am not covered by workers’ compensation because I am over 65 years old.
Not true! Employees are covered for workers’ compensation under all Australian schemes no matter what age they are injured.
“There is a common misconception that workers aged over 65 cannot access workers’ compensation provisions,” acknowledges Julie Hill, Director of Work Health and Safety and Compensation Policy at Safe Work Australia.
“However, this is not true.
“Medical and rehabilitation costs and lump sum payments for permanent impairment are paid irrespective of age under all Australian workers’ compensation schemes.”
Workers’ compensation schemes are either ‘long tail’ or ‘short tail’. Long tail schemes pay weekly incapacity payments for the duration of the worker’s incapacity and these payments are generally subject to regular reviews of work capacity.
The Commonwealth, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory schemes are all ‘long tail’ schemes.
‘Short tail’ schemes impose a benefit period or amount restriction, but this doesn’t mean that workers over 65 aren’t entitled to compensation.
“It doesn’t quite work that way,” said Ms Hill.
“While weekly incapacity benefits for injured workers cease once they reach retirement age, workers who are injured close to or after retirement age can receive weekly incapacity benefits for a period of between one year and two and a half years.”
This allows time for the worker to either recover and return to work, or make the transition into retirement.
Capping benefits minimises scheme costs and employer premiums, and avoids the situation of injured workers remaining on weekly incapacity payments well past the age at which they would have retired had they not incurred an injury.
The ‘short-tail’ schemes, Queensland and Western Australia, do not have an age cut-off. Instead, their schemes limit weekly incapacity payments for all injured workers by other means.
“It is critical that the misconception that employees are not covered by workers’ compensation after the age of 65 is corrected,” Ms Hill said.
“This belief may deter older workers from continuing at work, or deter employers from employing older workers.”
To find out more about the statutory limitations (in long tail schemes) of weekly incapacity payments across jurisdictions for workers who are injured at, close to, or beyond retirement age, see Safe Work Australia’s Workers Compensation Fact Sheet.