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I Got Paid

Author:
Home-love-wood-engraving-Soula-Mantalvanos

Have you all been holding your breath as I have the last couple of months? Well, you can breath out and feel happy for me – I got paid!

The financial ease is beyond documentation even though it falls far short of what I’m due (a most usual scenario with injured workers).

The fear and doubt that the compensation won’t continue will be ever-present. Being treated repulsively for years can never been forgotten – it’s a kind of irreversible trauma.

I will forever doubt these monsters. Trust was never incorporated into this relationship.

So am I settled, is it done, and am I feeling ecstatic?

Nope. There’s grief and anger to get through now. Grief for the life we lost due to the insurer’s dirty tactics. Anger for having to unnecessarily begin a whole new life miles away from everyone and everything we love. (more…)

What it means to be believed

Author:

It means security. It means quality sleep. It means closure. It means, I was entitled.

It means everything I touched this morning, didn’t pose the question ‘how will I afford to replace this?’

And.

It means I rose above the monsters and didn’t let them defeat me. They didn’t get to keep something that belonged to me. Sadly they did destroy Theo’s and my most valuable belonging – our home.

I’ll be adding to this post as the insurer responds to the Medical Panel Opinion which finally arrived and states: (more…)

Only because of their stupidity…

Author:
Post-box

“…that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.” wrote Franz Kafka in The Trial.

I really relate to this quote right now because I just can’t make sense of my current pending status.

I’ve now been waiting 8 weeks for 5 professionals to answer two questions… that an assigned WorkSafe insurer had the right to set.

That’s bloody confusing in itself.

Further to, I’m wondering a couple more things:

  1. how these 5 professionals, the Convenor, and the staff at Medical Panels convince themselves this process is helpful to me and other injured workers, and
  2. whether they enjoyed their Christmas as much as I didn’t

I called the Medical Panels to follow-up the report and express my anxiety on the matter. I’m feeling I’m going to explode. I’ve been breathing in so much my stomach feels like it has rocks in it and my neck feels like it’s fused with my shoulders. (more…)

A horrid equation: Medical + Legal = Medical Panels

Author:

From where I’m standing, you could never believe our Government has set up a system to support injured workers.

This very system that was established (apparently) for the injured worker is very well calculated and excruciating to navigate and whilst navigating it, the injured worker usually remains unfed and untreated.

My complete process from application to outcome and reimbursement of weekly payments (if I ‘win’) could go on almost a year. And there was a year before that when the system threw me into a disillusioned hole when it pulled the rug from under me after I declared a part time work capacity.

If you’re an injured worker reading this – don’t ever declare a part time capacity until you’re sure you have a solid one.

Whichever way you look at the situation for injured workers, the equation always adds up to unnecessary, unfair and insensitive treatment.

While I wait for the Medical Panels to send me their decision, their faces, movements, questions and gestures swirl around my head and I try desperately to guess the outcome.

Even at 2am, I fail to guess. It should be simple to go to an appointment and explain your personal health status shouldn’t it? It’s simple for my pain team.

However it isn’t simple for the Medical Panel because it’s not an appointment, it’s an assessment – they’re not the same. From my experience, this assessment is a full blown investigation and that so severely changes the experience… and my heart rate. I doubt I need to state that this scenario changes my pain levels but if I do, head back to page 1 of this website and start reading again. (more…)

The need for toughened glass

Author:
med-panels-revised-letter

Crap happens in life but it’s how you’re treated when the crap happens that makes a difference and helps you manage as best you can.

I’m not talking about chronic pain in this post but rather my treatment by the worker’s compensation system (system) as an injured worker. That’s the major, most frustrating, tragic event to have happened in my life.

I’m sick of the injured worker stigma dished out from the very system itself. It’s true that the fish stinks from the head and in the case of worker’s compensation, that saying is 100% applicable.

I had two appointments to get through on Tuesday at the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) in order for the Insurer’s questions to be answered about my work capacity (I realise how absurd it sounds to have physical and psychiatric assessments to work out capacity but I have no choice in the matter). I know the answers to the questions but that makes no difference to anyone in this dreaded system.

I didn’t need to be assessed, I have a great pain management team, my husband understands my health issue, my family and friends understand and I even have a magical employer who understands and has pulled out all stops to make up a position and whole business for me to be a part of!

None of that matters. None of that counts. The system knows better… apparently. Or at least the system thinks it does.

Who are the system?

It’s this kind of scenario, can you imagine a monstrous haunted house? Now imagine that inside it reside: WorkSafe, their Insurers, the ACCS, WorkCover Assist, many medical ‘professionals’, various other related ‘professionals’ and let’s not forget the lawyers, barristers etc.

As an injured worker, it feels like I’m in the dungeon of this house.

On Tuesday, Theo and I attended two appointments planned for me at the ACCS. Three physicians and two psychiatrists were assigned to assess me. In order for them to assess me, it is a requirement that these medical practitioners have not seen me and vice versa. I hadn’t. I checked. I checked thoroughly.

A few minutes before my physical assessment, the receptionist had news for me. One of the psychiatrists had ‘seen me’ before. I was mortified at the thought that I had made such a mistake. Injured workers can’t make mistakes – it’s unforgivable. I was mortified also at the thought of the consequences – the insurer might have to make me pay for it! The ACCS, their professionals and the insurer would be furious for the time I wasted.

But worse than this was the treatment that followed. I tried really hard not to take a photo when I was in the waiting area at the ACCS talking myself out of feeling like I was a criminal as I faced the toughened double glazed office enclosure the staff were sitting in. There’s a walk way too that’s behind glass that leads the professionals to the assessment rooms (yes, their path is different – an escape with a view) – I struggled to find a reason for this and didn’t succeed. I felt offended. (more…)

My dog’s breakfast is proving to be quite a serve of offal

Author:

A never-ending feast in fact (if such food takes your fancy)!

It is the eve of my appointment at the Medical Panels. Tomorrow I will see the 12th lot of medical practitioners and the 8th lot of psychiatrists that I’ve had to see to obtain no less than four medical panel opinions.

If you haven’t come across my history, here, entertain yourself – it’s quite a few mouthfuls, even for a large dog!

To summarise the situation, my three medical panel opinions all ‘confirm’ that I have a Chronic Pain Disorder (no mention of neuropathic pain), that I have a total 0% whole person impairment, and that I have a limited capacity to work – and that will be the case for the rest of my life. They do not appear to have considered the diagnosis of pudendal neuralgia (which at least does attract an impairment rating).

This poor excuse for a diagnosis (Chronic Pain Disorder) not only awards me the whopping sum of $0 for my impairment lump sum, but also makes my two stimulation implants irrelevant to my supposed ‘psychological condition’. It allows the WorkSafe insurer to offer me a 10 month settlement on my first 93cd application and avoid paying me partial weekly wages for the rest of my life for reasons I’m yet to fully comprehend. Apparently it has something to do with payslips.

Theo called Worksafe again today seeking to find out the reason why the insurer didn’t accept my medical slips as recommended by the Conciliator (it had been three weeks since he heard the reassuring news – ‘I haven’t opened the email yet’). There was no answer forthcoming, other than the vague protocol response.

In a recent letter in response to our Worksafe complaint about the matter, I received this explanation:

‘In accordance with the Act, the matter was referred to the Medical Panel who provided an opinion on her medical condition and incapacity. (Insurer) accepted the opinion of the Medical Panel on the issues of the nature of her medical condition and her incapacity, however rejected the application on the basis of the value of Ms Mantalvanos’ earnings.’

Theo raised a fair question today:

Are we going back to the Medical Panel for adjudication of a financial matter?

(more…)

Worksafe, who are you really helping?

Author:

Worksafe’s Mission is:

Actively working with the community to deliver outstanding workplace safety and return to work, together with insurance protection.’

When speaking with a WorkSafe employee today it was made quite clear to me that Soula’s insurer is doing everything possible to delay potential reimbursements.

Yes, the WorkSafe employee agreed with me that the ‘hoops’ Soula is to jump through are all a waste of time, money and energy.

However, I was told to call back again in three months to see how they could help. What!?

When asked why I cannot be helped now, I was told that this is the way the system works and we have to go through the motions regardless that we both agreed it was a waste of time. (FYI. all your/our workcover premiums fund these meeting, interviews, medical visits)

The insurer has asked a financial question of us. We have answered it. The system however, says that Soula has to see a Medical Panel and 2 psychiatrists. Then she has to wait two months for their medical opinion before the insurer can focus on the financial question!

WorkSafe, you are not protecting our insurance rights, you are protecting the insurer!

My life as it is within Workers’ Compensation – it’s a dog’s breakfast

Author:

In my current state of bewilderment, this may be the best way I can describe my life as it is today.

I shouldn’t bag a dog’s breakfast, as unlike that which the workers’ compensation system has dished out to me – a dog’s breakfast is nutritious, and dogs love eating it.

But the vision of pieces of food strewn apart, sliding about and sloppy, and pretty much dumped in a bowl destined to last a few seconds before it’s consumed without much thought or agenda, reminds me of what the system dishes out to me as an injured worker.

The system’s employees I’ve come into contact with lack any compassion, and all too often even some basic thought processes (i.e. common sense) appear to be absent. Their awareness of my predicament is shallow and their span of attention shorter than the time it takes a hungry dog to finish its breakfast.

I can imagine the bowl … I can see it all very clearly what it contains – a damn mess.

In technical terms I have outlined my current position within the system:

  • My 93cd second application has been submitted, rejected and referred to the Medical Panels (it was late, but who cares?)
  • This is the second 93cd application as the first time the insurer managed to reject the Medical Panel opinion – I know that is unheard of but somehow they were allowed to get away with it
  • I have been given no reason as to how or why the insurer was able to:
    1. contest the Medical Panel’s decision;
    2. ignore the conciliator’s instructions (well, point 385 of the recent Ombudsman’s investigation does me some idea of these machinations);
    3. get passed Workcover Assist’s instructions;
    4. offer 10 months part payments for the duration of the application process and suggest I re submit another 93cd application (what I’ve now done after selling my home!);
  • I have complained to Worksafe employees, who have notified us over the phone that the Medical Panel referral still stands and the letter of confirmation and explanation is coming to me by mail.

(more…)

My workers compensation battle is turning into a WorkSafe carnivale

Author:
Medical questions

It’s been a huge few weeks for WorkSafe and injured workers in Victoria.

I’ve always encouraged anyone who contacted me with their frustrations and horrid experiences of being an injured worker in Victoria to call their Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s role, as it was explained to me, was to gather complaints and if/when the complaints amounted in one specific matter, the Ombudsman would have reason to report the complaints to our Government and possibly investigate.

Clearly there have been many complaints and the Ombudsman just recently released this report about Worksafe’s ‘oversight’.

After finally gathering myself from the last blow that left Theo and I having to sell our home and start all over again, I resubmitted a 93CD application (that’s an application for part payments). Actually Theo is managing the application as I was unable to navigate the trauma of it all again but I also couldn’t bring myself to accept the insurer and our Government had gobbled up my compensation. Both very difficult when you have a chronic health issue and when you feel you’re being responsible for it but the other parties are trying to bury you instead of help.

I’ve seen the ad, ‘getting back, we’ll get you back, it’s good to be back, get you back, nothing like getting back.’ Hogwash! No one tried to help me get back to work! Nor did they advise us as self employers either!

Worksafe promises alot when they take our insurance premiums.

So, we’ve sent, what’s called a 93CD application to the insurer accompanied with: (more…)

Act 3 – explained

Author:

Big day for me today. Thank you to the Victorian Ombudsman and to all the injured workers who spoke up.

…Sadly too late – won’t bring our beautiful home and life back.

Act 3: Home lost to these vile insurer (and WorkSafe Victoria supported), unjust actions:

‘At interview, one former agent employee said that management placed pressure on staff to maintain decisions at conciliation and to not pay compensation past a certain date. This was to ensure the agent did not ‘breach’ their ‘targets’.

Read the article and full investigation, Investigation into the management of complex workers compensation claims and WorkSafe oversight on the Victorian Ombudsman’s website

Also worth reading: WorkSafe: complex claims process needs fixing

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What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?

Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggrevated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

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