Review quashes ACC decision to decline claim

Image / File
Image / File

A review has quashed ACC's decision to decline a West Coast man's claim for weekly compensation for health problems resulting from solvent exposure at Stockton mine.

But Michael Blincoe of Hector still intends to take ACC to court for its flawed processes.

The review by Dispute Resolution Services Ltd directed ACC to issue a new decision on whether Mr Blincoe was incapacitated by his covered dermatitis injury and on his entitlement to weekly compensation.

Mr Blincoe said ACC wanted to know whether the dermatitis was stopping him from working.

"I have a multitude of problems going on with my body, the lymph glands, the bloody brain, the memory, the pins and needles in both arms and the neck," he said.

Nothing was being done about the neurological problems he believed he had as a result of the chemical exposure.

"It's like ACC don't want to acknowledge I may have more problems than irritant contact dermatitis."

ACC agreed to pay for Mr Blincoe's neuropsychological testing last June after he went to the media, but Mr Blincoe said testing had focused on mental tests rather than medical ones.

"That was only mind stuff, that was only a lot of puzzles and all that sort of stuff," he said. "I actually thought it was going to be everything."

Following those tests, psychologist Katy Taylor said she couldn't rule out neurological damage. But Mr Blincoe said ACC overruled her at the review, saying she wasn't entitled to make that judgment.

"I thought, well, if she's not entitled to make that call why the hell did they send me to her in the first place?"

His doctor believed neurometric tests would prove either way whether he suffered neurological problems but ACC was refusing them.

"All I want is, if there's something damn wrong with me, and I know there is, I want the medicine to help me survive," he said.

"I'm not trying to rip them off, I'm just trying to get them to acknowledge that I have a problem and help me get the medical help I need. If I'm going to be an invalid for the rest of my life I would like some recompense, but I'm not after millions."

Without the testing he was in limbo.

"It will show I'm not trying to rip ACC off by coming up with all these complaints that are imaginary.

It's actually happening and it's actually affecting me."

He'd like to have the neurological testing before going to court so that he could prove his case - but that would cost him $1500 to $1600.

"I'm hoping somewhere along the line I can have that testing and then I can go to court and say right, now I've been compromised, and this is proven. At the moment it's not proven," he said.

"It's like ACC make it so hard, people give up and they don't pursue it any further and that's what's happening with me, although I've dug my heels in now."

ACC spokesman Glenn Donovan said ACC had been unable to grant cover for Mr Blincoe's neurological symptoms because there was insufficient medical evidence that those symptoms were the result of chemical exposure.

He said an independent reviewer recently upheld that decision.

"Mr Blincoe has appealed the review decision through the district court, and ACC will abide fully by any decision the court makes."

ACC would also abide by the independent reviewer's decision, to grant cover for occupational dermatitis from the date Mr Blincoe first sought treatment - April 17, 2009.

The date of cover, which was earlier than previously as a result of the review, meant ACC could now consider Mr Blincoe's request for weekly compensation from then. When ACC originally approved Mr Blincoe's claim for occupational dermatitis, he did not meet the qualifying criteria for weekly compensation (including being in paid employment or receiving an income, and that the injury resulted in loss of earnings).

To date, ACC had assisted with treatment, medication and specialist assessments for Mr Blincoe's occupational dermatitis, Mr Donovan said.

- The Westport News

- NZ Herald

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