If I leave the police force, how long will I receive weekly compensation for?

If I leave the police force, how long will I receive weekly compensation for?

You may be thinking about leaving the NSW Police Force, or you may have already left. Perhaps you have sustained Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) due to the traumatic, stressful and violent events you have experienced as a Police Officer. Or perhaps you sustained a particularly severe physical injury, such as a back or knee injury, that means you can no longer work as a Police Officer.

If this is you, you will understandably have questions about your ongoing entitlement to weekly compensation. One of the best parts of my job, is sitting down with a Police Officer who has just gone off work, and seeing their visible relief after I explain the Workers Compensation scheme to them.

If you have an accepted workplace injury that has caused you to stop working as a Police Officer, you will receive, amongst other entitlements, weekly compensation.

The first 9 months

You will receive 9 months off work at your full award rate whilst you’re deciding whether you want to, or can, go back to work. This does not include any extras you may be used to receiving, like overtime, user pays, or specialist unit allowances, but you will be paid your full loaded salary at whatever rank you were working at before you ceased work.

The next 7 years

After 9 months, you will transition onto 7 years at 75% of your award rate. It’s not as good as what you were earning, but it’s not too bad either. And it definitely gives you a chance to start focusing on your recovery, without worrying too much about how to continue to pay the bills.

These 75% payments are a combination of payments from EML, your Workers Compensation Insurer, and a top up from TAL, your Income Protection Insurer. The EML payment – called the statutory maximum – is calculated by how many dependents you have. If you’re single, you’ll receive around $570 per week to March 31 2024, but you’ll get a higher EML payment if you have a dependent spouse, and for each dependent child.

A spouse will be dependent if they are “wholly or mainly” dependent on you. Most families in the current financial climate need two incomes to pay the household expenses, and so if your spouse’s income does not cover all of your household expenditure, they will be classed as dependent on you.

A child will be dependent on you if they are under the age of 16, or up to the age of 21 if they are engaged in full-time study.

As an example, a Police Officer with a dependent spouse and two dependent children will receive a total of around $960 per week to March 31 2024.

The good news is that for your 7 years of income protection payments, it doesn’t matter if you’re single, or if you’ve got a dependent spouse and six kids. TAL will top you up to 75% in both cases, so you’ll be receiving the same amount as another Police Officer who was the same rank as you before they went off work.

What if I have been off work, returned, then gone off work again?

It is not unusual for Police Officers to have some time off work after an injury, begin receiving their 9 months of award payments, or even their 7 years of income protection payments, and then return to work. Sometimes however, they will not be able to continue and find themselves off work again.

The Police, EML and TAL often take your “date of injury” as your last day of work on the first occasion you stopped working. If you have received, for example, 4 out of the 9 months of award payments during your first stint off work, you may only be entitled to the remaining 5 months on the next occasion. If you started receiving income protection payments for the 7 year period during your first stint off work, time for that 7 year period may run from the first date you received those payments, even if you returned to work in the meantime.

We acted for a Police Officer client in these exact circumstances. EML had listed our client’s “date of injury” for the PTSD injury as a date in 2019. Our client started receiving the 7 years of income protection payments, but then returned to work for almost 2 years. When our client went off work for the second time in 2022, the 7 years of income protection payments were said to have started back in 2019, and so our client was effectively going to miss out on 3 of the 7 years of those payments.

Bourke Legal ran a successful argument in the Personal Injury Commission (“PIC”) that saw this Police Officer’s date of injury changed to the date the officer had last worked for the second time – in 2022. We argued that our client’s psychological condition had been aggravated, exacerbated or accelerated by the additional traumatic, stressful and violent events our client had experienced upon the return to work. This meant our client’s 9 months of award rate payments followed by the 7 years of income protection payments were re- started, and our client did not miss out on any of his entitlements.

Payments to the age of 68

At the end of the 7 years, your TAL payments will stop, but you will continue to be eligible for EML workers compensation payments until the age of 68. These EML payments continue to be based on the statutory maximum for you and any dependent spouse or dependent children you have at the time.

Wrapping it up

In summary, you will receive 9 months of pay at your full award rate. After that, you receive 7 years of weekly payments at 75% of your award rate, then ongoing payments from EML until you turn 68.

It’s not what you have been earning, but it is a good safety net to assist you and your family through this difficult time.

What should you do next?

If you are a Police Officer who is unable to work because of an injury, complete our Police Hurt on Duty Claim Checker today to provide us with some information about your circumstances and permit us to contact you directly to provide our advice tailored to your circumstances. We look forward to hearing from you.