Whole person Impairment Guide: Calculate your payments

Person holding shoulder due to work injury, involved in work accident and has a permanent impairment due to shoulder joint injury.

If you’ve been severely injured at work and you are unable to fully recover from your injuries then you are likely entitled to a lump sum payment via a permanent impairment claim. However, in order to understand if you are eligible for such payout, you are required to understand what your whole person impairment or permanent impairment rating is. 

This guide is designed to provide you with a comprehensive understanding on:

  • What exactly whole person impairment is and what it’s used for 
  • How Whole Person Impairment is assessed and calculated
  • Why Whole Person Impairment is important to your Workers Compensation Claim
  • How Whole Person Impairment Affects Your Compensation
  • The Whole Person Impairment Table to calculate your potential lump sum payout

What is Whole Person Impairment?

Whole Person Impairment (WPI) is a measure of permanent damage or impairment resulting from a work-related injury or illness. It assesses both physical and psychological impairments and considers various body systems.

WPI is determined through a comprehensive assessment by a medical professional and directly affects the amount of compensation awarded to the injured worker. It ensures fair compensation when you are making a permanent impairment claim for lump sum compensation. 

What is the whole person impairment scale/rating?

The whole person impairment scale/rating is used in Workers’ Compensation claims to assess the degree of impairment caused by an injury or illness. It assigns a percentage rating to the level of impairment, ranging from 0% to 100%.

This rating is used to calculate the compensation amount an injured worker is entitled to. Medical professionals assess the impact of the injury or illness on the person’s physical and psychological well-being to determine the percentage of impairment.

Why is it important to understand your Whole Person Impairment rating?

Understanding your Whole Person Impairment (WPI) rating is crucial when it comes to understanding your entitlement to workers compensation benefits. The WPI rating is a measure of the overall impact of your work-related injury or illness on your ability to function and is used to determine the compensation payable to you.

Furthermore, understanding your WPI rating is essential for making a successful negligence claim. If your injury was caused by the negligence of your employer or a third party, you may be eligible for work injury damages via a common law claim. One of the main criteria for this type of claim is that you must have at least 15% permanent impairment (Whole Person Impairment rating). 

It is also imperative to understand what your WPI rating is as this will allow you to make a permanent impairment claim for lump sum compensation. You can only make one permanent impairment claim in respect of your injury, so it’s very important to accurately determine your WPI to ensure you receive the appropriate compensation.

What is the Criteria for Whole Person Impairment claim?

In order to qualify and be eligible to make a permanent impairment claim for lump sum compensation, you must meet the following criteria:

  • If you are making a claim on or after 19 June 2012, you must have 11% or more permanent impairment for physical injuries or at least 15% for psychological injuries
  • Your injury must have reached maximum medical improvement, this means that your conditions are unlikely to change with or without treatment

How is whole person impairment calculated in NSW?

Whole Person Impairment is calculated by a qualified assessor who assesses your injuries using strict guidelines presented in the NSW Compensation Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. The qualified assessor will take into consideration both physical and psychological impairments when making the assessment. 

Once assessments have been completed the assessor will assign a percentage of WPI based on the degree of impairment due to your injuries.

How is whole person impairment assessed?

In order to have a whole person impairment assessment, the insurer or your workers compensation lawyer may arrange an independent medical examination for the assessment. 

The process of assessing WPI involves evaluating the degree of impairment suffered across different body systems. This assessment is typically carried out by a SIRA approved qualified permanent impairment assessor. According to the Guidelines for evaluation of permanent impairment, the assessment involves:

  • Evaluating medical evidence & documentation to determine whether:
    • your condition has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
    • whether the your compensable injury/condition has resulted in an impairment and whether it is permanent
    • the degree of permanent impairment that results from the injury
  • Determining the proportion of permanent impairment due to any previous injury, pre-existing condition or abnormality,

Evaluating Medical Evidence & Documentation

The required medical evidence typically includes:

  1. Medical Reports: Detailed reports from medical professionals, such as your nominated treating doctor or specialists, outlining the nature and severity of the injury.
  2. Diagnostic Tests: Results from various tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or blood work, which provide objective evidence of the physical condition.
  3. Specialist Opinions: Expert opinions from specialists in relevant medical fields that support the assessment of the impairment.
  4. Previous Medical Records: Pre-existing medical conditions and any previous injuries that may have contributed to the current impairment should be documented and considered.
  5. Rehabilitation Reports: Reports from rehabilitation providers outlining the treatment received and its effect on the individual’s condition.

Obtaining these documents is crucial as they provide objective evidence of the degree of impairment suffered by the injured worker. This information is then used to calculate the whole person impairment percentage.

Understanding Previous Injuries & Pre-Existing Conditions

Previous injuries and pre-existing conditions can significantly impact the calculation of whole person impairment in workers’ compensation claims. When assessing the degree of permanent impairment resulting from a compensable injury, assessors must consider the contribution of the pre-existing condition or previous injury.

If you had a previous injury or pre-existing condition that has contributed to your impairment, the assessors must take this into account when calculating the overall level of impairment.

Whole Person Impairment Table NSW 2023-2024

Degree of Permanent ImpairmentPermanent Impairment Payout
0 – 10%$0*
11% –  30%$27,790 – $96,760
31% – 50%$102,690 – $216,310
51% – 55%$299,300
56% – 60%$382,170
61% – 65%$465,040
66% – 70%$547,910
71% – 74%$630,770
75% – 100%$713,660
Figures taken from the Workers Compensation Benefits Guide October 2023

The Whole Person Impairment Table for NSW in 2023-2024 is a tool used to assess the level of permanent impairment suffered by injured workers and determine the compensation payable to them. 

Whole Person Impairment Calculator: Example

To help you understand how you can use the whole person impairment to calculate your permanent impairment payout, let’s take a look at a simple example of Matthew who is making a permanent impairment claim for a work incident that affected his hearing.  

Matthew attended an appointment to see a SIRA approved permanent impairment assessor, and it was assessed that he had a binaural hearing impairment of 61.2%. According to Table 9.1 of the NSW workers compensation guidelines for the evaluation of permanent impairment, 61.2% of hearing loss equates to a Whole Person Impairment of 31%.

By using the whole person impairment table we can calculate that based on a Whole Person Impairment rating of 31%, Matthew can expect to receive a permanent impairment payout of $102,690.

Impacts of Whole Person Impairment on Weekly Compensation Payments

When it comes to weekly workers’ compensation payments, the whole person impairment (WPI) rating plays a crucial role in determining the duration of those payments. Especially if you are seeking to continue receiving weekly payments after 260 weeks (5 years) then you must demonstrate a permanent impairment of over 20%.

Additionally, if you present a permanent impairment of 21 – 30% then you are eligible to receive weekly payments until you retire, whilst agreeing to ongoing work capacity assessments. However, if you have a permanent impairment greater than 30% then no work capacity assessments are required.

It’s also important to note that even if you’ve made a permanent impairment claim to receive lump sum payments, you are still eligible to continue receiving weekly payments as usual. 

For more information on Workers Compensation Payouts, make sure you visit our Workers Compensation Payouts Guide NSW.  

What types of injuries can cause permanent impairment?

Permanent impairment can result from a wide range of injuries, both physical and psychological in nature. Some physical injuries that can cause permanent impairment include but are not limited to are:

  • severe fractures
  • spinal cord injuries
  • traumatic brain injuries
  • amputations
  • Hearing loss
  • Surgeries involving joints
  • and severe burns

These injuries can lead to lasting physical disabilities and functional limitations.

Psychological injuries can also result in permanent impairment. Conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and other psychiatric disorders can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to function.

What sets permanent impairment apart from other health conditions is its stable deteriorated state, meaning that it does not improve with or without medical treatment. While medical treatment can alleviate symptoms or manage the condition, the underlying impairment remains. For example, a person with a spinal cord injury may undergo surgery and rehabilitation to manage pain and improve mobility, but the impairment itself remains.

How can Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers can help

If you have been dealing with a work injury for quite some time and have noticed it isn’t getting any better, you may be eligible to make a permanent impairment claim. Our experienced and skilled Workers Compensation Lawyers can help you by ensuring we get accurate recordings of your Whole Person Impairment rating and help you through every step of the claim to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Book in your free consultation with Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers today by calling us at (02) 8764 1776 or emailing us at refer@alliancecomplawyers.com.au

Get in touch to find out more HERE … or call 02 8764 1776
We can help.
No win, no fee.
We can help.
No win, no fee.

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