Have you injured yourself at work in New South Wales? As of April 2023, depending on your whole-person impairment rating, you could be eligible to receive a lump sum benefit to a maximum of $665,260.

Here we discuss whole-person impairment (WPI) rating and common work accident injuries.  If your whole person impairment is 15% or over you will be entitled to make a whole injury damages claim.

Get Legal Advice ASAP if You’re Injured at Work

If this is you, or someone you know, you must get legal advice as soon as possible after your work injury. Don’t do it alone because it’s the insurer’s job to ensure you get as little as possible or nothing. Our personal injury law experts at PK Simpson are well-versed in all the tricks of the insurance trade, and we will fight for your entitlements.

The Whole Person Impairment Scale

The rating system for measuring the permanent damage caused by your work injuries is called the “whole person impairment (WPI) scale”. This scale is based on the loss of a limb or the loss of use of any part of your body, bodily system, or function. Injuries that lead to whole-person impairment may also be psychological in nature.

When you claim compensation for an impairment due to a work injury, you will be assessed to decide on your level of impairment. To be entitled to receive a whole-person impairment payout in NSW, your physical injury must be rated at an 11 per cent or more whole-person impairment or 15 per cent or more for a primary psychological injury.

Whole-Person Impairment vs Disability

Impairment is a specific medical term, whereas disability is a generic, non-medical term. Impairment means a person’s limb or organ is abnormal in function or structure, including psychological impairment.

The Whole-Person Impairment Payout

A whole-person impairment payout is a lump sum compensation awarded when someone injured at work has difficulty physically or mentally performing their usual job or daily activities. The payout includes any weekly benefit payments you may receive and any hospital or medical expenses concerning your work injury. If your work injuries have resulted in an inability to do your shopping, use the toilet, shower or bathe, for instance, and you need some help, you may be eligible.

The WPI Threshold for Emergency Workers

The whole-person impairment threshold is one per cent for physical injuries but is 15 per cent for psychological injuries if you are an emergency worker. Once you’ve received a whole-person impairment payout under s66 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW), any weekly benefits will continue, provided you still qualify for them.

Why You Should Make a WPI Claim

Should you qualify for permanent impairment, we cannot stress enough how important it is for you to make a WPI claim. Your level of whole person impairment determines how long the insurer must pay for your treatment costs. If your level of WPI hasn’t been assessed, the insurer only has to pay for your treatment costs for at least two years from the date of your injury – or two years from the last date you received your weekly benefits, whichever is later.

However, after you have been assessed and your impairment level is determined, your entitlements will be extended according to the following table:

Your level of whole person impairment (%)Entitlement period
0-10%Either 2 years from your injury date or 2 years from the date you began to receive your weekly benefits – whichever came last.*
11-20%Either 5 years from your injury date or 5 years from the date you began to receive your weekly benefits – whichever came last.*
21% – 30% whole person impairment (“High needs”)Weeklies: Until retirement age* Treatment: For life.
31% whole person impairment and over (“Highest needs”)Weeklies: Until retirement age. Treatment: For life.

* 0-20% – wages benefits capped at 5 years. High needs – wage entitlement continues to retirement age unless your capacity increases in which case weeklies can reduce or stop.

Examples of impairment ratings

The following examples show common surgical procedures and injuries associated with whole-person impairment NSW ratings:

Physical injuriesDescription
Disc BulgesLaminectomy, discectomy
SpineSpinal fusion, joint replacement, laminectomy, discectomy
Loss of hearingWork-related hearing loss
Fusion of ankle or wristLoss of joint mobility due to fusion
Knees and shouldersReplacement, arthroscopy
Shoulder, elbow and knee injuryRestricted range of movement
Injury to the eyeWhere eyesight is affected
Damaged nervesCRPS, chronic pain
Multiple injuries / consequential injuriesWhere multiple body parts are affected or an

Whole-Person Impairment Compensation Calculator NSW (updated April 2023)

You can calculate your payout range using the whole person impairment table NSW -2022-2023 below. Compensation amounts will depend on the year your injury occurred and your level of whole-person impairment. Emergency workers, coal miners and those suffering from dust diseases are not included in this WPI impairment table for NSW.

For example, here is the Whole-Person Impairment Table NSW – for injuries occurring between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 summarised.

Degree of permanent impairmentWhole person impairment payout range
0 – 10%$0
11 – 20%$25,900 – $56,320
21 – 30%$59,700 – $90,120
31 – 40%$95,720 – $145,850
41 – 50%$151,420 – $201,550
51 – 55%$279,000
56 – 60%$356,250
61 – 65%$433,500
66 – 70%$510,750
71 – 74%$587,990
75 – 100%$665,260

Calculating Whole-Person Impairment in NSW

A medical doctor accredited by SIRA will assess your injuries according to the NSW Compensation Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.

However, the doctor cannot combine any psychological injuries with your physical ones to determine your whole-person impairment level. Your compensation will only be judged on your primary injury, whether physical or psychological. The doctor must consider all relevant medical information, including your medical history.

Arranging an Assessment

The SIRA doctor and your workers compensation lawyer will arrange your assessment. Obtaining the correct clinical notes and getting the right tests done prior to your assessment is essential. The SIRA doctor will review the clinical notes we provide and consider our statement when making the WPI assessment.

The Injuries That Can Cause Permanent Impairment

Here are some examples of permanent impairment in a table of injuries and procedures:

Injury/ ProcedureDescription
Disc bulgesAlso referred to as sciatica
SurgerySuch as joint replacement and spinal surgery
Hearing lossWhere the hearing loss is work-related
Ankle or wrist fusionFusion results in loss of joint mobility
Multiple injuriesInjuries that affect multiple body parts
Shoulder injuriesWhere range of movement is restricted
Spinal fusionA base WPI over 15%
Nerve damageChronic regional pain syndrome
Total knee replacementA base WPI over 15%
Total shoulder replacementA base WPI over 15%

Contact PK Simpson Today If You’ve Been Injured at Work

For over 38 years, PK Simpson has helped people get the compensation they deserve. Our compensation lawyers have the skills and experience to ensure you succeed in your WPI claim. Contact a PK Simpson personal injury lawyer near you to help you make a start on your recovery journey. Phone 1300 757 467 or use the convenient online form.