Returning to work after a devastating injury or illness is sometimes easier than done. But it is not necessarily impossible. This in turn begs an important question — or two. What if you get a total and permanent disability (TPD) payout? Can you go back to work after that? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Keep reading to learn more.
What is TPD insurance?
Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance is a product that Australians can buy or get as a benefit through their superannuation funds. In either case it acts as a safeguard for someone who has experienced a drastic illness or injury. Specifically, it does so for someone whose injury prevents them from returning to their regular job.
This where things become a bit complicated. Why? Because there is no universal definition of total permanent disability. Instead, the definition varies between insurance providers. Therefore, the ability to return to work after making a TPD claim varies accordingly. Of course, other factors, such as each person’s unique circumstances, are also considered.
The best way to find out if you can go back to work after a TPD claim is to consult a lawyer who is well versed in this area. In the meantime, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Basic TPD policy stipulations
Even if you were badly hurt or seriously ill, there is always a chance that a new treatment or medication may help you regain enough function to work in some capacity. How that affects your ability to do so after a successful TPD claim depends on the policy stipulations.
Being unable to work in your own occupation
Let’s say your TPD policy provides compensation if you are unable to work in your own occupation. With this type of policy, you can make a claim if an injury or illness renders you incapable of doing a job compatible with your training and experience.
To clarify, let’s suppose your warehouse job involves heavy manual labor. Among other things, you’re constantly lifting and moving objects weighing 10 to 20 kilos. One day you hurt your back. Unfortunately the injury renders you incapable of bending, lifting heavy objects and doing other job-related tasks. In this situation you could apply for compensation in the form of a lump sum through your TPD insurance.
But what if your back injury does not prevent you from learning new skills associated with a different job? Here, you can probably return work compatible with your new skill set after your TPD payout.
Being unable to work in any occupation.
Now let’s say you have TPD insurance with a policy that only provides compensation based on your inability to work in any occupation. As its name indicates, you can only seek lump sum compensation through this policy if an injury or illness prevents you from working at all.
So, let’s suppose if you sustained a traumatic brain injury that prevents you from working in any capacity. Clearly, you could apply for lump sum compensation under this policy.
But here’s something else to consider. Suppose a new treatment or therapy comes along. And suppose it helps you get better after you receive your TPD payout? If your recovery is such that you can resume work in some way, you can usually return to work. This is true, even after you get your lump sum TPD benefit.
Additional TPD and related policy stipulations
Your ability to go back to work after a TPD payout may also hinge upon two additional factors. One is whether or not your TPD insurance includes additional stipulations. The other is whether your situation meets the stipulated criteria.
Examples include provisions related to activities of daily living (ADL) and provisions related to loss of one or more limbs.
ADL provisions usually (but not always) stipulate that you must be incapable of doing any two of the following activities unaided, by yourself:
- Getting dressed
- Taking a shower or bath
- Ambulating (walking, standing, getting into bed)
- Using the toilet
If you can do any of these things while using an adaptive or supportive device, you probably won’t meet relevant criteria. If you do meet the criteria, however, you may be able to return to work after a TPD claim. More specifically, you may be able to do so with no effect on your benefit.
Loss of limb provisions
To reiterate, different TPD policies contain different language pertaining to the loss of one or more limbs. Common stipulations mandate that you have lost, or have lost the use of:
- Both arms
- Both legs
- One arm and one leg.
If you experienced the loss of or loss of use of any limbs as detailed above, you may be able to return to work after a successful TPD claim. Just as importantly, you may be able to do so with no effect on your claim or claims.
Repayment of TPD payout upon return to work
One of the most common concerns people have when they make TPD claims is the repayment of benefits. Specifically, they are worried that they will have to repay the benefit if they go back to work.
The good news is that this concern is unwarranted. Repayment is not usually required if the recipient goes back to work.
Remember, however, that you cannot provide inaccurate or misleading information to the insurance provider when you make a TPD claim. Deliberately doing so allows the provider to seek repayment of benefit based on a fraudulent claim.
To avoid any additional complications, it is critical that you consult an lawyer who can help you understand the nuances of making a TPD claim.
If you’re in the situation where you need to make a claim on your TPD policy, contact Perth Workers Compensation Lawyers today for an initial case assessment. Check out the rest of our site to find one near you.