Former case manager's 20-year ACC battle

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 14:04 01/03/2013
john hogan
SUPPLIED
SHAMBOLIC DEALINGS: John Hogan has struggled since an injury more than two decades ago left him incapacitated.

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Dealing with ACC is "shambolic", says a man who has had his long-term compensation cut off.

And John Hogan is well-qualified to know – his injury happened while he was working as an ACC case manager.

In 1991 Hogan, then 38, was working at ACC's Paraparaumu office when he injured his neck and right arm in a "sudden twisting movement".

Despite experiencing "significant pain" in his neck, he stayed in the job for another two years before being certified as incapacitated in 1993. He stopped work and began receiving weekly compensation.

The next year he went back to work part-time – an arrangement he stuck with until 1996, when he was "medically retired" from his job by ACC and resumed full weekly compensation.

He had spinal surgery in 1999 and in 2004 had his initial medical assessment, which identified six work-types that would be suitable.

Several assessments during the next few years provided conflicting results, some agreeing he could return to work and others saying his condition was likely to remain such that he could not be considered able to resume full-time work.

In 2009, after another assessment report, ACC decided he was no longer incapacitated – a decision he appealed.

The report noted that the case manager job would not involve any heavy lifting or bending and twisting, though it did involve "frequent standing, walking and moving about the office between departments". Hogan was also able to attend the pool or gym with little problem.

In 2010 a reviewer agreed Hogan was no longer incapacitated from his role as a case manager – a finding he again appealed.

In a decision released last month, Judge Martin Beattie said the evidence presented to Wellington District Court established Hogan was mentally and physically able to return to his pre-injury employment.

Hogan, who now lives in Gisborne, said that dealing with ACC during the past two decades had been a "shambolic" process.

Since his compensation was revoked three years ago, he had been forced to sell his house and move in with his daughter.

All his savings had been exhausted and he struggled to pay unexpected bills.

He believed he had been bumped off as part of ACC's effort to remove claimants from the system and save money.

"Why don't they give me a job then? If they gave me a job I'd try it, but I know I can't do it because every day I go to the physio and pool just to keep myself mobile, and that's four hours a day."

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An ACC spokesman said Mr Hogan was welcome to apply for a role within the organisation but would have to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and experience required to do that job.

He declined to comment on the court decision, saying it was against company policy.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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