“Rehabilitation provided by ACC (which comprises treatment, social rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation) is available to ACC claimants on an entitlement basis, unlike Ministry of Health-funded services for disabled people, which are rationed,” the paper said.
It also found injured disabled people who needed help because of that injury had to juggle the ACC and welfare systems at the same time, which often treated them very differently.
“Compensatory entitlements available to some ACC claimants are non-means tested and often more generous than benefits and entitlements provided by the Ministry of Social Development.”
An example of this was how ACC clients under age 18 were compensated if they were left unable to work by an injury.
“They are able to receive weekly compensation at a more generous rate than the Supported Living Payment available to disabled people who are supported by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).”
However, those who were disabled already prior to being injured were less likely to receive ACC compensation, because they were less likely to be in paid work, the paper said.
Disability Strategist Sacha Dylan said such inconsistencies had been highlighted by the disability sector for “many years”.
“That loss of potential earnings subsidy is interesting, because it’s young people who haven’t actually had a job. It’s ACC’s way of trying to say, well, if they did have a job, how would we assess the potential earnings? And of course, it’s like 80 percent of the minimum wage, which is a lot higher than the benefits that disabled people can get paid through.”
It was also “fundamentally wrong” to have two systems treating disabled people in different ways, because of the way they became disabled, Dylan said.
“That someone can be lying in a hospital ward, with, say, cancer on the spine, that’s given them an equivalent kind of impairment to somebody who is in the next bed who’s hurt themselves playing rugby or something … one of them will get a lot more help from the government than the other.
“That’s just fundamentally wrong. Because the whole idea of having disability supports, it’s meant to get people to be able to contribute to their fullest potential.”
National Party ACC spokesperson Simon Watts said the government should close the gaps for disabled people, not only with ACC, but across government agencies.
“Where there is opportunities to improve the ACC system, and in particular, in this case around the support that they provide for disabled people, then ACC should be looking at closing these gaps.”
Watts did not, however, believe a separate “Māori ACC” should be created to address the inequalities faced by Māori in accessing the scheme, as suggested by Māori health advocate Lady Tureiti Moxon.
“National supports a unified ACC system and we oppose any separate ACC systems being set up. But I think we would acknowledge that ACC is not perfect, and the reports have cited that not only in aspects around Māori, but also for women”.
It was worth “investigating” whether birth injuries should be covered by the scheme, Watts said.
ACC legislation has been criticised for allowing cover for sporting injuries but not birth injuries.
Carmel Sepuloni, who is also Minister for Social Development, has been approached for comment.