Workers who sustain damage to their hearing as a result of their jobs may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. An overhaul of the worker’s compensation system took place when the Return to Work act became operational on 1 July, 2015. Workers who have sustained hearing loss connected to job tasks must understand the rules under the current workers’ compensation system so they can determine what benefits they are eligible for and take advantage of the opportunity created under the law to obtain monetary payment for permanent impairment.

Owen Hodge Lawyers is familiar with the Return to Work Act and with the rules established by the Act that apply to all workers whose hearing was affected by their work duties or job performance. To get help with your workers’ compensation claim, contact us today so we can investigate your eligibility for workers’ compensation and help you to take the necessary steps to maximize the benefits available to you.

What You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation and Hearing Loss

 

Workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation for hearing loss in situations where their job caused the hearing damage to occur. In certain situations, workers may also be eligible when performance of work tasks exacerbated pre-existing conditions affecting their hearing.  If you are experiencing hearing loss, there are a few key things you need to know about whether you will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and about how to obtain benefits:

  • Hearing loss may make you eligible for a type of workers’ compensation benefits called permanent impairment benefits.

However, a threshold applies to become eligible for this type of monetary compensation through the workers’ compensation system. According to NSW Work Cover, you must have sustained at least 20.5 per cent binaural hearing loss to claim a permanent impairment.  Police officers, volunteer fire fighters, emergency service volunteers and those who sustained hearing loss prior to 1 January 2002 may be able to obtain lump sum compensation at a much lower threshold, sometimes after experiencing only six percent or more binaural hearing loss.

  • You may be required to obtain a WorkCover Certificate of Capacity to receive benefits.

The Certificate of Capacity is provided to an insurer so the insurer can make a determination of the payments you are entitled to as a result of your workplace injuries. Your Certificate of Capacity is also used in the creation of a plan to manage your injury and to allow you to obtain appropriate medical treatment.  The Certificate of Capacity needs to clearly state your diagnosis, and acceptable medical terminology must be used.

  • You will need a specialist to determine the extent of the hearing loss and to prove the extent of impairment.

An accredited Ear Nose & Throat specialist or other medical professional with a similar level of experience can provide you with the proof of impairment required.  You may be required to select your ENT specialist from a provided list of trained caregivers to obtain a report you can use to prove the level of hearing loss you have experienced.

  • You must provide consent to allow your insurer, doctor, and employer to communicate about your work injury claim.

The insurer needs to have access to your medical information in order to make a determination about what benefits you are entitled to receive as a result of your workplace hearing loss.

  • Workers’ compensation benefits may be sought for hearing loss in one ear, for hearing loss in both ears, or for partial hearing loss.

Benefits are also available for tinnitus and other hearing related problems that were caused by work tasks.

  • You may be entitled to reasonable and necessary costs for treatment and certain medical expenditures, even if you do not meet the impairment threshold.

Reasonable and necessary costs can include treatments such as cochlear implants and other surgical procedures intended to treat or reduce the hearing loss you are experiencing. If you require a hearing aid as a result of your hearing loss, or need any other type of therapeutic device, workers’ compensation should cover the cost of the medical equipment that you need.

  • Economic loss compensation is not generally available for work-related hearing impairment.

Under the Return to Work act, hearing loss is excluded from economic loss compensation.

  • You should still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even if you have left the job you were working at when the hearing loss occurred.

  • To obtain benefits, you must provide an audiogram and/or a report from the ENT as well as a complete workers injury claim form, and a completed permanent impairment claim form.

Owen Hodge Lawyers can provide you with assistance in determining what benefits you are entitled to and can help you through the process of making a workers’ compensation claim, demonstrating the extent of impairment, and claiming the benefits you deserve.  Call us today at 1800 770 780 or contact us via OHL@owenhodge.com.au to learn more about how we can help you.