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AustralianSuper’s rehab program returns 42.5% to work

Dan Purves




AustralianSuper’s five-stage rehabilitation program has helped return to work 42.5 per cent of insurance claimants offered rehabilitation, with a further 15 per cent being job ready.*

The five stages to the enhanced rehabilitation service were:

  1. Identifying suitable claims
  2. Allocating a risk rating
  3. Completing a rehabilitation assessment
  4. Developing a rehabilitation plan
  5. Managing this plan

The level of success from this program (a combined total of 57.5 per cent being able to take up work again) is comparable to results from Swiss Re study (Rehabilitation Watch 2014) into five insurers, which found 54 per cent of people who went through rehabilitation were able to return to work.

The program has been running for close to two years with 85 per cent of members who were offered the option accepting it.

“That’s partly because we have a selection process around who would be good candidates, where the rehabilitation would actually work for them,” Richard Weatherhead, head of insurance at AustralianSuper, told delegates at the Group Insurance Summit in Sydney.

“We’ve had no complaints from members at all and this [program] has been building up since 2014, so almost two years.”

Claimants who had a high risk of encountering barriers to returning to work were a priority for the program.

However, Weatherhead added that the skill set to know if a claimant would benefit from rehabilitation was different from what most assessors might have had in the past.

“The key thing [to acknowledge] is that we are still in the very early stages. We are still learning.”

As such, he identified three areas to improve the program.

The first was increasing the amount of claimants referred to the program. Currently, about 15 per cent of income protection claimants are referred, but Weatherhead believes this can be increased to 40 per cent.

Secondly, the period between the first notification of the claim and the referral to the rehabilitation program, despite already being brought down, was still too long at 10 months and needed to reduce further.

“And there is huge potential to partner with the various businesses around the country to ensure we get early intervention for rehabilitation,” Weatherhead said.


*This story was updated on 24/08/16 to further clarify that the 42.5 per cent of members returning to work were from those offered rehabilitation, rather than all TPD claimants.