Permanent impairment

What are permanent impairment benefits in workers’ compensation?

When someone sustains a workplace injury it may result in a permanent impairment. Workers’ compensation schemes may offer a lump sum compensation payment for permanent impairment. The payment is made in addition to income replacement payments (weekly compensation) and medical expenses. 

How to find out if an injured worker has suffered permanent impairment?

Workers’ compensation schemes in Australia use independent medical practitioners who assess the degree of permanent impairment an injured worker has suffered.  

To find out if a worker has suffered a permanent impairment, a doctor will undertake an in-person assessment of an injured worker that examines: 

  • whether the condition has reached maximum medical improvement and is unlikely to get any better,
  • If the work-related injury has caused the impairment, and
  • If a pre-existing injury has caused or contributed to the permanent impairment

Workers’ compensation schemes while generally all use the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, there are multiple guides and schemes may apply them differently.  

National Permanent Impairment Guidelines

In 2013, we made recommendations to the Ministerial Council on nationally consistent arrangements to assess permanent impairment, which were agreed to by the majority of jurisdictions in early-2014.

As a result, we developed template national permanent impairment guidelines, as well as developing a training package for medical practitioners who want to become permanent impairment assessors. A review of the template national permanent impairment guidelines will commence in 2022. 

For access to the national permanent impairment guide and the training package please contact