What does 10% whole person impairment mean?

10% whole person impairment rating

A ten percent whole person impairment rating under WorkCover can mean a number of different things – depending upon what your injury is.

Generally speaking, in order for an injury to be compensable via an impairment claim, a physical injury needs to be assessed to be at least 10% (in some cases, a 5% assessment will suffice) and a psychiatric impairment will not be compensable if only a 10% impairment is obtained (a minimum of 30% primary psychiatric impairment is required).

This can be quite a complex topic and some understanding of the AMA Guides is required.

This page will explore the topic further.

10% for physical injuries

If you have been assessed by way of an impairment assessment as having a 10% whole person impairment rating for a physical injury or a combination of physical injuries – excluding ‘chapter three’ injuries which are explored below – then you will have an entitlement to be paid an impairment benefit lump sum for permanent impairment.

Currently, a 10% assessment (if the impairment claim was lodged in the 2023 – 2024 year) would entitled you to a lump sum of $24,180.

10% for a ‘chapter three’ injury

A chapter three injury refers to injuries that are covered in chapter three of the AMA guides.

If you have a musculoskeletal injury – an injury to the lower extremity (foot, hindfoot, leg, knee hip) or upper extremity (hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, spine and pelvis)  – then there are a few possible scenarios when it comes to be assessed as having a 10% whole person impairment.

  • In relation to chapter three injuries that are not spinal injuries, a 5% impairment by the doctor would be adjusted to 10% which would entitle you to $14,980.
  • In relation to chapter three injuries that are not spinal injuries where you have been assessed as 10% by the doctor, this would be adjusted to 11% which would entitle you to $27,740
  • In relation to chapter three injuries which are spinal injuries, a 5% impairment by the doctor would be adjusted to 10% which would entitle you to $16,478.
  • In relation to a chapter three injuries which are spinal injuries, a 10% assessment by the doctor would be adjusted to 11% which would entitle you to $30,514.

10% for a psychiatric injury

If you’re assessed as having a 10% whole person impairment rating related to a psychiatric injury, you would not be entitled to be paid any compensation under an impairment claim.

This would be the case regardless as to whether you are assessed as having a 10% primary psychiatric impairment, 10% secondary psychiatric impairment or a combination of the two.

10% for hearing loss

If you were assessed as having a 10% whole person impairment rating related to hearing loss, then you would be entitled to be paid an impairment lump sum claim.

An assessment of 10% would entitle you to a lump sum of $24,180.

Multiple calculation options

Where you have an injury or injuries that could be calculated in more than one way, the insurer should provide you with multiple calculations. And you should be given the greater figure.

See below for an example:

modified 10.6% impairment

You can see that this person was assessed under chapter three of the guides as having an 8% whole person impairment rating which was then modified to 10.6%.

What impact does a 10% whole person impairment rating have on common law claims?

You should not assume that a 10% whole person impairment rating – whether it be for a physical injury, a chapter three injury or a psychiatric assessment – is a low rating.

One thing I’ve noticed with some people is that they don’t understand what an impairment rating is.

They might think ‘10% is only 10% out of 100 and that’s not very much.’

This is not the correct way to think about impairment assessments and it’s not the correct way to think about an impairment assessment of 10%.

A 10% impairment assessment (and any other impairment rating) is just a way for injuries to be graded in accordance with the American Medical Association Guide to permanent impairment.

When it comes to a common law claim, for those that don’t meet the 30% threshold (which is most people), what matters more than the impairment rating is the impact an injury has on a person.

Yes, an impairment rating is something to consider. Generally speaking, an injury assessed at 10% assessment is likely to have a greater impact on a person’s life than a 1% assessment.

But a 1% impairment assessment can still result in a serious injury.

And the fact is that some injuries rate higher than others under the AMA guides.

Conclusion

A 10% whole person impairment rating under WorkCover can mean a number of different things – depending upon the type of injury you have.

Note: all compensation figures quoted above apply if your date of injury is in the 2023-24 financial year. If your injury occurred before this, then the figure will be slightly different.

 

Please keep in mind that the information contained on this page should not be considered legal advice and no content on this site should replace the need to obtain advice tailored to the specific facts of your case. The facts of a case can significantly alter the advice that can provided. This site only provides general advice. Read more here.

To contact Michael or Peter call 1800 746 442 or email [email protected].

Written by the Work Injury Site team