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Super or ACC choice 'obscene' - Findlay Heads

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 03:46 PM

Super or ACC choice 'obscene'

Home » News » Dunedin
By Bruce Munro on Fri, 9 Oct 2009

http://www.odt.co.nz...e-039obscene039

Making a grieving man choose between his dead wife's ACC compensation and his own hard-earned superannuation is "obscene" and tantamount to theft, Dunedin widower Fin (Findlay) Heads says.

Mr Heads, of Abbotsford, is frustrated and angry after what he says has been more than nine months battling Government departments, and the complex legislation they operate under, to get justice.

Ten months after his wife Shirley was killed by a careless driver, Mr Heads was told he could have either his superannuation or ACC compensation but not both.

He wants both restored, the law changed, and other people in similar circumstances compensated.

"I find it absolutely obscene," Mr Heads said.

ACC Minister Nick Smith and Minister for Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennet
t have declined to comment until they have more information about Mr Heads' situation.

Spokespersons for Dr Smith and Ms Bennett said they were not yet able to respond to Mr Heads.

"The minister is seeking more information to ensure everything has been handled properly in this case," Ms Bennett's spokeswoman said.

Dr Smith's spokesman acknowledged it was "a unique situation and requires closer examination".

"We invite Mr Heads to contact our office directly should he wish to."

Revenue minister Peter Dunne
said he had "every sympathy for Mr Heads' position" but that none of the issues raised were "within the responsibility of Inland Revenue".

A spokesman for Justice minister Simon Power
said the issues were not relevant to that portfolio.

On April 28, 2008, Mrs Heads was killed by a truck while crossing the intersection of Great King and Hanover Sts, Dunedin.

Her death, 37 days before she was due to retire, was deemed a workplace accident.


The driver was convicted of causing the death of Mrs Heads by operating a vehicle carelessly.

"I was traumatised," Mr Heads, who had retired after 50 years work as a plumber, said.

"Prior to that, I could think things through clearly.

"I took about 13 months before I started to think clearly again."

The stress also hastened heart problems, necessitating a heart operation.

For 12 months, Mr Heads received his superannuation and his wife's ACC compensation, but towards the end of that period he received a letter from ACC saying he would have to opt for one or the other.

He chose the compensation because it was worth "a few more dollars".

The compensation in the first year was $18,603.52.

His superannuation that year was $18,274.99.

ACC told him the compensation, or a lump sum equivalent, was payable for five years, after which his superannuation would be restored.


The Star
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That is indeed evil
Submitted by pukeko on Fri, 09/10/2009 - 6:37pm.

Yet it is so ruthlessly typical. It defines the word 'callous' at unprecedented levels. Pay tax all your life, years of toil, and then on top of a spouse's death, this. It beggars any sort of belief. Yet some golden boy rugby player, deliberatly exposed to injury risk, it's a fast track when something happens, no questions asked. Not only the law system has gone to the dogs. We are certainly no longer "The land of milk and honey".
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#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 03:48 PM

Still traumatised by intersection death

Home » News » Dunedin
By Bruce Munro on Fri, 21 Aug 2009

http://www.odt.co.nz...ersection-death

There have been 200 fatal or serious crashes at Dunedin intersections in the past five years and, as part of a national strategy, the Dunedin City Council, police and the New Zealand Transport Authority have launched an intersection road safety campaign in the city. Of the seven people killed in the Dunedin incidents, more than half were pedestrians. Star reporter Bruce Munro talks to the family of one of the four victims about the ongoing impact.

For Shirley Heads' family, everything changed at 1.50pm on April 28, 2008.

It is 16 months since Mrs Heads, breaking her custom by taking a lunch break away from work, was killed by a truck while crossing the intersection of Great King St and Hanover St.

But for Mrs Heads' husband Fin, daughter Wendy Collard and other family, the trauma is still fresh.


‘‘This is only the second time I've been back here,'' Mr Heads said on Tuesday while standing across the road from where the left-turning truck and trailer knocked down and ran over his wife of 48 years.

‘‘I can't drive through this intersection any more. I'm only here today in the hope it will save others from this.''

‘‘Coming here today is like living it all over again,'' Mrs Collard said.

‘‘All the issues with grief make it so hard to get closure.''

The family does not know why Mrs Heads was walking towards George St that afternoon.

They guess it was to buy presents for up-coming birthdays. Mrs Collard was at work at the Dunedin City Council call centre when information came through about a fatal accident at the intersection.

The first Mr Heads knew about it was when police knocked on his door.

‘‘We had to come down to the hospital to identify Mum in the morgue,'' Mrs Collard said. ‘‘Some of those images don't go away.'' In a court case held in March this year the driver was convicted of causing the death of Mrs Heads by operating a vehicle carelessly.

He was sentenced to 300 hours community work, 12 months driving disqualification, and ordered to pay $6000 reparation.

Asked what changed that day, Mrs Collard said ‘‘Everything.''

‘‘Life,'' Mr Heads said.

‘‘You can count on one hand how many nights I've had since then without a nightmare.''

The stress put Mr Heads in hospital and, he believes, hastened his own heart problems and the death of Mrs Heads' father.

It has affected friends and extended family including a granddaughter in Australia.

‘‘She and her grandmother were so close,'' Mr Heads said.

‘‘She was just six and had to get counselling. She started taking responsibility for everybody and everything at home and school.''

Mrs Heads died 37 days before she was due to retire.

Mr Heads favours a Barnes Dance pedestrian-only crossing phase at busy traffic lightcontrolled intersections.

‘‘If this had been a Barnes Dance it would never have happened. She would still be with us today.''
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Posted 07 July 2014 - 03:55 PM

Rights and entitlements

Home » Lifestyle » Magazine

By Bruce Munro on Sun, 29 Jun 2014

http://www.odt.co.nz...nd-entitlements

Is superannuation an entitlement or a benefit? Fin Heads has taken a case against the attorney-general over "obscene'' legislation that forced him to choose between his superannuation and his dead wife's ACC compensation. The retired Dunedin plumber tells Bruce Munro about his traumatic five-year battle with the Government to win what would be landmark case, and why he believes some in power hope he will die.


Staring intently is one of the things Fin Heads (73) does really well.

He is doing it now. Staring, stony-faced at Ministry of Social Development (MSD) analyst Ananda Domingo.

Mr Domingo, who has worked for the MSD in Wellington for 15 years, is in Dunedin answering questions about evidence he has provided to the Human Rights Review Tribunal considering Mr Heads' claim ACC legislation contravenes basic human rights.

Mr Heads' stare is one of concentration and frustration. During the past five years the retired Dunedin plumber has become a passionate, self-taught authority on ACC and superannuation law and practice as it relates to over-65-year-olds whose loved ones have been killed at work. He is following every question, every response, increasingly irritated by what he perceives to be a muddying of the waters with irrelevant figures and comments.

The cross-examination by Mr Heads' Dunedin lawyer, Dr Fiona McCrimmon, continues, watched by the three-person Human Rights Review Tribunal panel, the defendant's Crown Law Office lawyer, Ian Carter QC, of Wellington, his assistant, a public gallery of about a dozen people and, of course, Mr Heads.

The questions and answers, and the panel's interjections seeking clarification, are restrained, formal, always polite. It is in keeping with this room in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, a refined space that is all white curtains, ceiling-to-floor glass and a view of the placid greens and yellows of the Octagon's autumnal plane trees. It could not be further from the violent events and visceral responses of the day five years previous that triggered this hearing.

When police came knocking, on the afternoon of April 28, 2008, Mr Heads was sitting on the couch in the living room of the modest 1960s family home he helped build in semirural Abbotsford.

He answered the door and the officers suggested he retake his seat.

''We have to tell you that your wife has been killed in a car accident,'' one of them said.

Shirley Heads (64) was only 37 days shy of retirement on that Monday when she ducked out of work at Dunedin Hospital to run a lunchtime errand. At the intersection of Great King and Hanover Sts she was struck and killed by a turning truck as she crossed the road.

The driver was later convicted of causing death by operating a vehicle carelessly. Mrs Heads' death was deemed a workplace accident.

In shock at the policeman's words, Mr Heads phoned his daughter, who worked for the city council, to tell her the news.

''The next thing, she was screaming,'' Mr Heads said.

''She was the one who had taken the call from the public about an accident at that intersection and had called for the ambulance, not knowing it was for her mother.''

After that ''things went hazy'', he said.

For the next 12 months he was lost in a mental fog.

Three months after his wife's death, Mr Heads was rushed to hospital for heart surgery.

The grief, when it came several months after her death, was like a hammer blow.

''It was unbelievable. I just broke down and bawled my eyes out,'' he said.

Early in 2009, a letter arrived from ACC telling him that he was only entitled to receive both his wife's ACC compensation and his national superannuation for one year. The letter stated he must choose either to receive the ACC payment (48% of what Mrs Heads' average income had been) for the next four years and relinquish his super for that period, or keep receiving the super and give up the compensation. He elected to take the compensation, because it was worth about $40 more per week than the super.

But as the months passed and the veil of shock and grief lifted, he started to ask questions. Both the questions and their answers made him deeply angry.

WHY should he have to choose between his superannuation and his wife's ACC compensation? Hadn't his wife worked and paid not just taxes but also levies to ACC; in essence a compulsory insurance scheme? So why was the Government now refusing to pay out on that insurance? Because, he was told, clause 68 of schedule 1 in the Accident Compensation Act says the superannuitant surviving spouse of a person killed in a workplace accident must, after one year of receiving both their own super and their dead spouse's ACC, elect to receive one or other for the next four years.

But, he countered, if he had been working when his wife was killed would he not have received her ACC compensation even though he would have still been getting his own income?True, but the principle behind the legislation was that you could only have one benefit payment at a time, he was told.

Benefit? I have paid taxes all my working life, since I was 15. Surely superannuation is an entitlement not a benefit, was Mr Heads' incredulous, and increasingly indignant, response.

That's the law, end of story, he was told.

Over my dead body, he thought.

''Just because they set it up in an Act doesn't make it right,'' he said.

''I find it absolutely obscene.''

ANOTHER thing Mr Heads does well is stubborn.

During the next two years he sent dozens of letters and emails to government departments and ministers, including Prime Minister John Key. He sought the help of politicians, advocates and ACC specialists, and spent many hours chasing down and poring over legislation and case law. He had meetings, mediation and reviews, not to mention reviews to determine whether he could have more reviews ...

He found out a lot more about legislation and the inner workings of government than he had ever wanted to know. He discovered, for example, that in 1993 a committee looking at social assistance reforms recommended to the Cabinet ''the requirement that superannuitants elect between superannuation or weekly compensation ... be repealed'' because it could have ''an unintended result''. Cabinet thought otherwise. Clause 68 was not removed.

Every letter and document, hundreds of pages of informal correspondence and incomprehensible legal jargon, were stapled, clipped and filed.

''It's the only way to do it. It's the only way to win,'' he said.

Mr Heads hired a lawyer who thought he had a good case to claim for age-based discrimination: if he had been under 65, he would have received the ACC compensation no questions asked.

In August, 2011, the Human Rights Review Tribunal received a claim under the Human Rights Act, 1993. The claim was lodged in the name of the plaintiff, Ernest Findlay Heads, against the defendant, the Attorney-general.

It was a further 21 months before the hearing convened, in Dunedin, on February 19, 2013. It was presided over by an auspicious three-person panel led by tribunal chairman Rodger Haines QC, of Wellington.

Mr Heads' discrimination case depended on being able to prove two things: that he had been treated differently just because of his age, and that the treatment had caused him ''material disadvantage''.

Mr Carter, representing the Attorney-general, had gathered four witnesses to make the defendant's case; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) senior policy adviser Jocelyn Burton, MSD senior policy analyst Alexander McKenzie, ACC senior business analyst Andrew Burton, all of Wellington, and Mr Heads' original ACC case manager, Sandra Smith, of Dunedin.

In essence, Mr Carter would use their testimonies to argue that Mr Heads had not been treated differently and had not been materially disadvantaged. He would also argue that even if discrimination was proven, the age limit was justified because it served an important objective: that of keeping the ACC scheme fair and sustainable.

After the first two and a-half days of the hearing, Mr Carter sought an adjournment. In granting it, chairman Mr Haines also ruled Mr Heads should not have to pay any more costs from the hearing. Further costs should be borne by the Crown, he said. Mr Heads later said his lawyer had trouble getting that bill paid and had to threaten to sue the Governor-General in Mr Heads' name, at which point the account was suddenly settled.

Between mid-February and mid-June the hearing met once every other month for a couple of days at a time.

Mr Domingo was giving his evidence on the first day of the April gathering. He asserted that if surviving spouses were to receive superannuation as well as their dead partner's ACC compensation, it would put extra funding pressure on the New Zealand Superannuation Scheme.

During her cross-examination, Dr McCrimmon repeatedly probed the figures Mr Domingo's forecasts were based on. Which of his tables were actually relevant to Mr Heads' situation? And if Mr Domingo expected allowing superannuitants to keep their super and receive their spouse's ACC compensation would cause a cost increase of $571,000 a year, where did he get the figure of 30 people a year on which he based the calculation?It was a figure given to him by ACC, he said.

But, asked Dr McCrimmon, what about Ms Burton's earlier evidence that the number of superannuitants whose spouses were killed in a work-related accident was more like 21 to 28 a year?And what about the figure Mr Heads had obtained from ACC which said there were 20 people in total in that category during the four years to January, 2013? Or, Mr Heads wanted to ask, what about the figure obtained in 2009 from his ACC case manager that stated there had only been four people in the previous year?As the days of the hearing ticked by, the potential costs of up to $241.1 million a year bandied around early on appeared to be steadily whittled down to perhaps less than $100,000.

Would removing this seemingly discriminatory clause really put either the super or ACC schemes in jeopardy?Mr Heads' answer is an emphatic ''no''. The opposite is actually the case, he says.

His and his wife's superannuities were payments the Government had already factored into its budgets, as they did for everyone else at, or approaching, retirement age. And if Mrs Heads had been badly injured but not killed there would also have been ongoing ACC payments and health expenses the State would have borne.

''Because she was killed, the only possible scenario is that the Government has saved money,'' he says.

At the heart of the case is the question ''Is National Superannuation an entitlement or a discretionary benefit?'' Does the Government have the right to require some people, and not many at that, to make a choice in which surrendering their super for four years is one of the legitimate options?It is a topic Mr Heads would love to debate with the ministers of ACC and MSD as well as the prime minister.

He is particularly keen to discuss it with Mr Key. He has a transcript of a radio interview Mr Key gave in August, 2011, during which he said ''I don't count superannuation as a benefit. I think it's an entitlement. I mean, it's completely universal, paid to anyone aged over 65''.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal
is the only body in New Zealand with power to make a ruling that laws are discriminatory.

Win or lose, the case would result in a landmark decision, Dr McCrimmon said during a break in the hearing.

''And if it succeeds, it is a very significant decision,'' she said.

When that decision will be given is unknown. In May, the average age of active cases before the tribunal was 331 days from the day the claim was received.

It is already longer than that since Mr Heads' hearing wound up. And it is close to three years since his claim was lodged with the tribunal.

Asked why the ruling was taking so long and when it could be expected, Ministry of Justice spokesman Matt Torbit said each case had its own complexities and there was no time limit dictating when a decision must be reached.

''It is the nature of courts and tribunals to take a measured and considered approach,'' Mr Torbit said.

MR HEADS is, above all, a forthright man with deeds to match.

He openly admits pursuing this case has cost him a lot. All up, he estimates the loss of superannuation, the legal fees, plus other expenses amounts to more than

$250,000.

''If Shirley and I hadn't been frugal all our life, I would have had to sell the family home,'' he says.

They had been saving for what was meant to be their golden years. Those funds, along with their super, were to have enabled renovations to the house and travel in New Zealand and overseas, including regular trips to visit grandchildren in Australia.

With Shirley's death, if he had received the ACC compensation and his super for five years he would at least have been able to finish doing up the house, sell it and move on with his life, he says.

The irony of the law as it stands is that he would be better off if, a year after his wife was killed, he had committed a crime that sent him to prison for four years. He would have lost his super for the time he was in jail, but would have received Mrs Heads' ACC compensation, he said.

''And I could have rented the house out, while they [the State] took care of my health, my meals, my clothing, my heating ... And at my age I wouldn't have worried about a criminal conviction.''

All the rebuffs, obstacles and delays Mr Heads has faced have convinced him he is viewed as a problem which some in power wish would go away.

''It's my firm belief [they] work on the principle that for people my age if they hold out for long enough, with a bit of luck they'll die.''

They are unlikely to get their wish.

His hope is that a tribunal ruling in his favour will mean ''justice will prevail and the wrong will be righted''.

''In particular, that the Government will feel morally obliged to recompense those like me who are still surviving. And those who aren't surviving, that their beneficiaries will be recompensed.''

But if the ruling does not go his way, that is not the end of it for Mr Heads.

''I think I would appeal. But without a lawyer, because I'd no longer be able to afford one.''

That is stubborn for you. And there is no doubting he means it. He has that look in his eye.
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Taxing the take
Submitted by Albert Square on Mon, 30/06/2014 - 10:45am.

When you consider benefits and superannuation are funded by taxes, and then taxed as income support, things get fiscally circular.
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Computer says no
Submitted by styly1 on Mon, 30/06/2014 - 10:44am.

The ACC has become a cash cow for the Government. Posting a profit of a billion dollars last year is evidence to this fact. All the while de-neighing payments to those applicants with genuine reasons for entitlement (Another portfolio disastrously handled by Nick Smith) Another case in point the man reported in the ODT last week refused dental care payment by WINZ (who dares whinge) losing his teeth due to a medical misadventure. I am assuming that it was not intentional to give him Hep C during a blood transfusion? If this was the USA all of you involved in this travesty would be sued for millions and most likely be out of the job you do so badly. Give those dead heads hell Fin. My heart goes out to you.
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Superannuation
Submitted by Mine on Sun, 29/06/2014 - 9:25pm.

''Is National Superannuation an entitlement or a discretionary benefit?''

Ask the IRD - they told me, quite emphatically, that as a superannuant I am an employee of WINZ and that my super is taxed by the government as income exactly as for any other employee!

I've never been invited to any of their staff functions tho nor have I seen any thing on promotions or bonuses.
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Justice is the right to sue
Submitted by Albert Square on Sun, 29/06/2014 - 3:45pm.

A workplace accident caused by a careless driver is grounds for a lawsuit. We are making do with a dismantled ACC scheme.
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Fairness not compassion
Submitted by Hype.O.Thermia on Sun, 29/06/2014 - 1:49pm.

I couldn't disagree more with rossjerry52: "ACC should be administered with much more compassionate considerations".

ACC should not be in the business of compassion, it should stick to the rules. The rule, with this one vile mean-spirited exception, is that you are forced to pay ACC levy, and in return ACC provides "insurance" to cover medical, surgical, house and vehicle modification where necessary, and income at a level proportionate to pre-accident earnings. And when someone is killed in an accident the rule is clear for everyone, pretty or ugly, young or old, deserving or ratbags. Everyone except a surviving spouse on a non-income tested national superannuation which is the entitlement of the richest and the poorest, the same however much they do or don't need it, when they turn 65.

If anyone should be denied their entitlement shouldn't it be honestly, transparently, based on their means, their need? As long as John Key and Sir Robert Jones are eligible for ACC and national superannuation - I mention them not because I think they shouldn't be, but because they are well known to be able to fund their own living costs - there is no excuse for denying anyone one of those entitlements for the plain reason of saving money. Stop all other squandering of tax dollars first, then come back to us and ask if fair-minded NZers think it's OK.

In the meantime, quit mean, stick to the basic contract. Strike out the weasel-wordy exception and apologise - and pay Fin Heads' out-of-pocket expenses without further squirming. Rossjerry52 is right on the humanity front, it's only the reasoning for his stance that I don't support.
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Deserving or not?
Submitted by [email protected] on Sun, 29/06/2014 - 10:12am.

This person has had the misfortune to have to engage in battling the National-led bureaucracy. There is no question in my mind if he should receive both ACC and super at the same time. For God's sake he lost his wife in a car crash late in life when she was at work. This is a much harder to recover from than a similar situation with a younger person. ACC should be administered with much more compassionate considerations, the people we are talking about have generally been in accidents and have had their life totally disrupted in many cases.
The other way to look at this is that we are in a rut as far as nationwide finances go and the one of the best ways to remedy this is to put money into the bottom of the income earners who spend the money and contribute to business and employment in the local area. The same could be said for the unfortunate unemployed. Pay them more money and they may move out of poverty and increase employment. Punishing them by making it harder to live and forcing them to attend useless seminars just wastes money when paying them more money to pump into the local economy would produce more jobs and reduce their number rather than finding ways to disqualify them.
To end I would like to say good on you sir and the best of luck, you deserve it.



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#4 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 30 April 2015 - 02:25 PM

'Stubborn' old battler wins compensation fight
5:00 AM Tuesday Apr 21, 2015

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http://www.nzherald....jectid=11435743

Fin Heads says he was "punished" by ACC after wife Shirley was killed. Fin Heads says he was "punished" by ACC after wife Shirley was killed.


A retired plumber whose wife was killed when a truck hit her has won a long-running battle over compensation and forced a possible law change.

Ernest Findlay Heads, known as Fin
, was jubilant after the Human Rights Review Tribunal last week ruled in his favour - and the decision could benefit other grieving widows and widowers.

Shirley Heads, 64, died in 2008 when a truck hit her at a pedestrian crossing outside Dunedin Hospital, where she worked.

The driver was convicted of careless driving causing death.

Mr Heads, now 73, was told that accident compensation payments would be made for 12 months after his wife's death, then he would have to choose between ACC and superannuation. But other people who had not qualified for super were entitled to five years' compensation.

"It's like I was punished because my wife was killed," Mr Heads said.

He decided to challenge the decision, rigorously researching the law.

"I'm a stubborn old bastard. Most old folk would give up. But I made a vow to a lady who passed away."

He said some people accused him of "double-dipping" without considering the circumstances of Shirley's death and the principle of universal superannuation. He said the couple had paid taxes and levies for decades.

He launched proceedings in the Human Rights Tribunal, which has now agreed that part of the Accident Compensation Act breaches the Human Rights Act.

In a series of hearings in 2013, the Crown argued it would be too expensive to allow for all spouses in Mr Heads' position to receive compensation for up to five years.

But the tribunal said if Mr Heads' argument succeeded, the cost to New Zealand each year would be no more than $1.3 million.

Said Mr Heads: "There were only two or three people a year put in this position, at a time when they're most vulnerable, having lost in most cases their lifetime partner."

The tribunal said about 30 surviving spouses were in a similar situation to Mr Heads.

Mr Heads' lawyer, Dr Fiona McCrimmon, said: "If it's you or me and our spouse or partner is killed in an accident, then we would be entitled to five years of weekly compensation as a surviving spouse.

"That would be a recognition of the fact that we'd just suffered a loss of an income-earning spouse or partner.

"This is no doubt a decision of the tribunal that will form part of the human rights landscape in New Zealand for years to come."

The Crown has until May 17 to appeal. ACC Minister Nikki Kaye's office said it would take some time to digest the tribunal's decision. She said officials would brief ministers in the next couple of weeks.

- NZME.

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Posted 30 April 2015 - 02:27 PM

IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW TRIBUNAL
[2015] NZ

HRRT12
Reference No. HRRT 048/2011

UNDER
THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1993

BETWEEN
ERNEST FINDLAY HEADS
PLAINTIFF AND
ATTORNEY-GENERAL
DEFENDANT


http://www.justice.g...l-17-april-2015
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#6 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 30 April 2015 - 02:29 PM

Landmark ruling on ACC entitlement

Updated at 1:07 pm on 21 April 2015

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http://www.radionz.c...acc-entitlement

Retired widows and widowers may now be entitled to extended ACC compensation and superannuation because of a landmark ruling by the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
no caption

Photo: ACC

Ernest Heads, whose wife was killed by a truck in 2008, may have set a legal precedent which will affect future claimants.

ACC pays weekly compensation to families for five years after a fatal accident, but, because Mr Heads was getting superannuation, it ruled he could only get one year's compensation and would then have to choose between ACC and super.

He took his case to the tribunal, arguing the Accident Compensation Act was in breach of the Human Rights Act because its discriminated against age.

The tribunal agreed and said Mr Heads, who's now 73, had lost about $75,000 as a result.

ACC said up to 30 people were eligible for both entitlements.

Related

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Labour questions ACC spend up
ACC Minister defends levy rates
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Posted 01 May 2015 - 12:23 PM

View Posthukildaspida, on 30 April 2015 - 02:29 PM, said:

Landmark ruling on ACC entitlement

Updated at 1:07 pm on 21 April 2015

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Reddit Share via email

http://www.radionz.c...acc-entitlement

Retired widows and widowers may now be entitled to extended ACC compensation and superannuation because of a landmark ruling by the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
no caption

Photo: ACC

Ernest Heads, whose wife was killed by a truck in 2008, may have set a legal precedent which will affect future claimants.

ACC pays weekly compensation to families for five years after a fatal accident, but, because Mr Heads was getting superannuation, it ruled he could only get one year's compensation and would then have to choose between ACC and super.

He took his case to the tribunal, arguing the Accident Compensation Act was in breach of the Human Rights Act because its discriminated against age.

The tribunal agreed and said Mr Heads, who's now 73, had lost about $75,000 as a result.

ACC said up to 30 people were eligible for both entitlements.

Related

Doctor visit promise falls short
Labour questions ACC spend up
ACC Minister defends levy rates


This is an excellent find for those affected Spider.

Thanks for bringing to everyones attention.

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#8 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 04:18 PM

Excellent work Fin Heads, stand tall and proud!!

In regards to the following comment, they should also investigate who drafted and wrote that said piece of legislation and make them accountable under various Laws.

If they are still a Policy adviser/ Lawyer they should also look into seeing if they are indeed competent or should be struck off.


"But there should also be an inquiry into what went wrong with the legislation, he said."



Widower wins right to super and compo
Home » News » Dunedin
By John Gibb on Wed, 28 Oct 2015
News: Dunedin


http://www.odt.co.nz...nd-compensation

Dunedin widower Fin Heads has won a landmark human rights case over what he terms ''obscene'' legislation that forced him to choose between his superannuation and his dead wife's ACC compensation.

Mr Heads (74) said yesterday he had just been vindicated by his successful Human Rights Review Tribunal claim, after a long ''stressful, emotional'' quest for justice.

The tribunal found part of the governing ACC legislation was ''inconsistent with the right to freedom'' from age-based discrimination, under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990).

Mr Heads was pleased that part of the law would be changed - specifically clause 68(3)(B)/>, in part of the Accident Compensation Act 2001. But there should also be an inquiry into what went wrong with the legislation, he said.

He believed he should be paid out for four years of superannuation payments he had to forgo, and that the estates of people who had also been disadvantaged in the same way should be compensated.

He had won a ''part victory'', but it remained unclear if he would be reimbursed for the the lost payments.

In a statement, ACC Minister Nikki Kaye said the tribunal case had led to her reviewing ACC policy.

Under present law, ACC weekly compensation that was paid to the spouse of someone who was fatally injured was generally available for five years.

But a clause in ACC's governing Act required superannuitants, after receiving both New Zealand Super and weekly compensation for a year, to choose between the payments.

The law would be changed ''at the next legislative opportunity'', to allow superannuitants to receive both NZ Super and surviving spouse weekly compensation ''on the same basis as other surviving spouses'', she said.

The change would help about 50 people a year, with negligible effect on ACC levies, she said.

On the afternoon of April 28, 2008, Mr Heads, a retired plumber, then aged nearly 67, was at his Abbotsford home when the police arrived.

They told him his wife, Shirley Heads, had been killed in a road accident.

Mrs Heads (64) had been only 37 days from retirement that Monday when she left work at Dunedin Hospital to run a lunchtime errand.

She was struck and killed by a turning truck as she crossed the road at the intersection of Great King and Hanover Sts.

Three months later, Mr Heads underwent heart surgery.

Early in 2009, an ACC letter arrived, telling him he was entitled to receive both his wife's ACC compensation and his national superannuation for only one year.

He had to choose to receive the ACC payment for the next four years and relinquish his super for that period, or vice-versa.

He elected to take the compensation, which was worth about $40 more per week than the superannuation.

He began asking why he had to make that choice and was told an underlying principle was that people could receive only one benefit payment at a time.

But he had paid taxes since age 15 and believed superannuation was an entitlement, not a benefit.

In August 2011, Mr Heads made a claim to the tribunal, against the defendant, the Attorney-general.

In its recently-released decision, the three-person tribunal, led by Rodger Haines QC, of Wellington, found the relevant section 68(3)(B)/> of the ACC legislation, read with other sub-clauses, breached the Human Rights Act.

Arguments advanced on behalf of the Attorney-general had ''deployed `social welfare' terminology inappropriately'' in the context of a compensation scheme.

The Crown had submitted that the Woodhouse Report (1967) and earlier reports provided support for its argument, but ''a proper reading'' of the reports established ''the opposite contention'', the tribunal said.

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