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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 18967
Experience:  32 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I am a currently on a WINZ benefit. When my partner died 20

Customer Question

I am a currently on a WINZ benefit. When my partner died 20 yrs ago leaving me with our 5yr old son, ACC did not inform me of my rights & no benefit other than a funeral grant was paid. 12 yrs later I applied to them & was accepted & paid a backdated lump sum BEFORE asking me income details. During that 12yr period I continued to have a family without entering into a relationship in the nature of marriage. ACC have filibustered for the last 7yrs by issuing incorrect debt decisions which demmand the review & appeal circus so that any monies entitled to me will be owed to WINZ. What can I do about this?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 3 years ago.

christhelawyer :

Hi I have read your question and the following answer will guide you through the problem. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear

christhelawyer :

If you are not earning an income you will be entitled to either ACC or a WINZ benefit. If ACC have overpaid you then they are entitled to recover this. If you have been receiving a WINZ benefit while waiting for the ACC benefit to be decided then you will have to repay that benefit if ACC do finally agree to pay you, because you cannot get both-either ACC or a WINZ benefit, and therefore they may be correct. I may not have got the full picture for this so ask if you have further questions.

Customer :

My feeling on this is that the MAJOR reason they are delaying is so that all entitlement becomes void. Any entitlement will belong to WINZ. Is there any defence to this situation. I do not feel it is accidental or simply an unfortunate outcome. It is a situation that is being deliberately maintained. In Victoria University of Wellingtons Law Review "Ruka v Social Welfare" it seems that for a partner "to deliberately deny financial support" is not a defence, so if I do prove my eligability to ACC entitlements & ACC have denied me THEIR financial support so that I have to receive a WINZ benefit is their position defencible? I appreciate the difference between Partners & Govt Deps.

christhelawyer :

If delay is a concern then you must seek a review based on the failure to make a decision, which can be done. However the delay in calculating any ACC entitlement would surely not affect any repayment to WINZ. Perhaps I do not understand your point. If you have to repay something to WINZ then you would have to be receiving a benefit or ACC. If they are about the same then how are you worse off. Perhaps you can explain more detail.

christhelawyer :

Are you still on line?

Customer :

I am currently seeking a review of an ACC decision that I owe ACC around $20,000 because in the 12yrs between my partner dying & the date of my application to them, I had more relationships. One of which produced 2 more children & I bought & sold properties with the childrens father. We did not live together or become financially interdependent. We did not socialise together or share household costs. My childrens father would provide for them only. Our son was born with a major genetic disorder. I was & am on a WINZ widows benefit . The $20,000 is a reduced amount from the original debt. Because ACC did not ask me about my income during the 12yr delay or about my then,present circumstances before they accepted I had an entitlement & paid me a lump sum backdated I do not feel I am responsible for the debt as I did not contribute to the mistake or mislead them. I found that they feel not only do I owe them but they also asked WINZ to create a debt against me as well. The ACC debt amount was reduced because the law says that they are only allowed to recover a debt for a certain time frame. It was reduced because I was going to appeal it & they took another look. When ACC ceased weekly payments to me I got the decision reviewed & then appealed the flawed reviewers decision. The judge agreed that it could not stand. ACC was to issue another decision.Then ACC issued its 2nd decision that the amount I owed was less, only 20,000. Not that they cannot enforce a debt that I did not contribute to or because I didn't have a defacto relationship or because If they had made contact with me after my partners death then they would have been fully informed of what I was doing at the time I was doing it. They destroyed my dead partners file after 5yrs not the normal 7-10yrs. At the time my partner died he left a will with AMP Perpetual Trust, myself & our son as beneficiaries, therefore an executor??? ACC paid for his funeral a year after his death to Perpetual Trust. I also succesfully defended fraud charges laid by ACC. I have been investigated & nothing in the investigation file proves their position. It is filled with inaccuracies. I have been asking for over a year to have the information that the investigative reports are based upon provided so I can show the mistakes. I have been asking to go through my file with them for years. I am entitled to do this but they won't allow it. They will only allow me to review & appeal & this is deliberate!!!! If ACC do not have correct information then they cannot issue correct decisions. ACC do not want correct information. By maintaining only legal communication they slow down their process to that of the courts & so eat up time.

Customer :

If it is not defencible for a liable partner to with-hold financial support so as to require their dependent partner to become dependent on Welfare assistance, is it acceptable for ACC to delay determination of their liability toward their clients so as to require them to become dependent on Welfare assistance & remain dependent on Welfare assistance so as to disadvantage the client? If not, what to do? ACC know client funds are usually limited.

christhelawyer :

You will probably be aware of your rights to see the ACC file under the Official information Act. I assume that this is why you have not got the investigation files. If you are having trouble with this you can get the help of the Privacy Commission or the Ombudsman, who can both help with this. I think underlying this is the debt which you feel you should not have to pay. I suggest you continue with that review and see what can be done.

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