Safety Net Income Benefit (SNIB)
This policy applies for losses on and after 28 November 2007
The TAC will pay the Safety Net Income Benefit (SNIB) to a client:
- who has returned to work after sustaining a "severe injury" and has an impairment rating of 50% or more, and
- who subsequently is terminated from their job, or can no longer sustain their self-employment after returning to work.
This policy applies to a client who otherwise would be entitled to Loss of Earning Capacity (LOEC) payments but whose job is terminated or cannot be sustained (if the person is self-employed) for non-transport accident related reasons.
Eligibility for SNIB will be re-assessed once in each 5-year period. Refer to ‘Review of SNIB entitlement’ for more information.
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.54A(1)
In this policy:
- Earner's pre-termination weekly earnings refers to the weekly average of the gross earnings received by the person as an earner during the 12 months immediately before the day on which the post-accident employment was terminated.
- Self-employed's pre-termination weekly earnings means the amount assessed by the TAC having regard to the earnings of the person during the 12 months immediately preceding the day on which the person can no longer sustain their self-employment.
- Termination means the ending of a regular employment relationship between the employer and the employee at the employer’s initiative. This does not include temporary periods without work where the employment relationship continues through accrual of entitlements (e.g. annual leave) – including periods of “stand down” (where the employer does not provide work or payment to the employee).
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.54A(7)
What type of payment is the SNIB?
The SNIB payment is payable for losses on and after 28 November 2007. The SNIB is an income benefit designed to act as a safety net for severely injured clients who have an impairment rating of 50% or more and have returned to work but their employment is subsequently terminated due to reasons such as site closure, restructure, redundancy or insolvency or their self-employment can no longer be sustained.
How is the client's entitlement to the SNIB calculated?
A client's weekly SNIB payment must not exceed, whichever is the lesser of
(a) The statutory maximum, or
(b) an amount equal to 80% of whichever is the greater of the person's "pre-termination weekly earnings" or the person's "pre-accident earnings".
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.54A(5) and s.4(1)
Is the SNIB taxed and does the TAC issue an annual payment summary or income statement?
The SNIB is a taxable income payment and the TAC will issue a payment summary at the end of each financial year.
Does the statutory weekly maximum amount get indexed?
The statutory weekly maximum amount is indexed by the Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) on 1 July each year.
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.61(2A)
How long is SNIB paid for?
SNIB payments are paid as a safety net while a person finds alternate employment. SNIB payments will cease when a client has:
- received a reasonable offer of suitable employment, or
- unreasonably refuses to participate in a rehabilitation or vocational rehabilitation program, or
- settled their common law claim for pecuniary loss damages, or
- reached the age of retirement for their occupation, or the age that they can apply for the Commonwealth aged pension. For accidents after 6 July 2022, SNIB benefits can be paid for up to 36 months from the accident date, if a person has reached or will reach the normal retiring age for their occupation pension age during that time.
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.54A(3) and s.54A(2)
Review of SNIB entitlement
Once in each 5 year period, we will review your ongoing entitlement to SNIB, which may include a reassessment of your impairment rating. You are also able to request that the TAC conduct a review of your ongoing entitlement at any time.
This is known as a 5-yearly review and is conducted for all SNIB recipients. The first review usually takes place after your job is terminated or cannot be sustained (if self-employed) and you access SNIB OR 5 years after the first SNIB payment.
In undertaking a review we will take into account:
- The information available on your claim
- Any information you can provide regarding your injuries and current capacity to work
- Annual Statement of Earnings Forms; and
- Any arranged impairment or independent medical exam1
- If you have been employed since your accident, the circumstances of your initial access of SNIB.
When a review has been completed, we will maintain, increase, decrease or cease your SNIB payment according to the outcome of the review. We may also refer you to a rehabilitation or vocational rehabilitation program to assist your search for employment. You will be informed in writing of the outcome of any review.
In some circumstances, we may not conduct a 5 yearly review such as when:
- The information on your claim demonstrates that a review is not appropriate or required as it is clear your capacity to earn has not changed
- Your level of whole person impairment is unlikely to stabilise below 50%.
Is the client expected to participate in a rehabilitation program whilst in receipt of the SNIB?
The TAC may support a client to find alternate employment by requesting a client to participate in an approved:
- rehabilitation program provided by an approved rehabilitation service, or
- vocational rehabilitation program provided by a vocational rehabilitation service.
More information about the supports we can provide is available here: http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/clients/how-we-can-help/return-to-work-support
A client is not eligible for a SNIB payment where they unreasonably refuse to participate in a rehabilitation program or vocational rehabilitation program approved by the TAC.
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.54A(2)
Will SNIB payments continue if a client is placed on a return to work program with an alternative employer?
Where a client who is receiving SNIB payments is unable to return to their pre-termination employment, the TAC can arrange vocational rehabilitation services to support them to find alternate employment and develop a return to work plan. Where appropriate, the TAC can pay top-up SNIB or may consider paying wage subsidies to an employer as the client increases their hours in a new role. More information about return to work support is found here: http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/clients/how-we-can-help/return-to-work-support.
What happens if a client who is receiving SNIB payments takes up a reasonable offer of alternative employment and this is unsuccessful?
The TAC will consider whether the reasons for the unsuccessful return to work are due to non-transport accident injury reasons to determine if the client may be entitled to receive SNIB.
If the return to work was unsuccessful because of accident related reasons then the client may need to have their capacity reviewed to assess eligibility for LOEC payments.
What happens if a client on SNIB payments who worked full-time takes up an offer of part-time work because that is what can be offered?
The TAC can pay top-up SNIB payments to a client who takes up an offer of part-time work where that is offered after being terminated or the employer cannot offer the hours of work the client performed before termination. The TAC will continue to work with the client to return to the working hours for which they have capacity.
If however the reason the part-time work is taken up is solely as a lifestyle or personal choice then SNIB payments cannot be paid, e.g. a client decides to reassess their lifestyle after the termination, they take up an offer of part-time and not full-time employment in order to spend more time with the family, etc.
The client may be required to participate in a vocational rehabilitation program until the pre-termination level of employment is reached.
Can casual employees receive SNIB?
A casual employee is only eligible to receive SNIB if they are a “regular casual” and either:
- formally terminated; or
- cease to receive further work
A “regular casual” employee is defined in Fair Work Act 2009 s12 as a ‘casual employee who is employed on a regular and systematic basis’.
SNIB is not payable to “regular casual” employees who are stood down for temporary periods but are not formally terminated by the employer.
Other casual employees who cease to receive work from an employer are not eligible to receive SNIB. These include employees who:
- were hired on a seasonal basis (e.g. ‘Christmas casuals’); and/or
- did not have a regular pattern of work and worked sporadic, infrequent and/or inconsistent hours week to week (e.g. an employee who took occasional ‘fill-in’ shifts as available)
Can a client receive an LOEC benefit and a SNIB payment?
A client cannot receive an LOEC benefit if they are receiving SNIB payments.
However, a client who returned to alternative employment after receiving SNIB payments and goes off work again because of their transport accident injuries, is entitled to a total or partial LOEC payment depending on the extent of the incapacity. See also the Loss of Earning Capacity Benefits policy.
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.54A(6), s.49 and s.50
What if a client's job is terminated because of the transport accident injury?
If a client loses their job due to the transport accident injury and suffers a total or partial loss of incapacity, they may be entitled to LOEC benefits. See also the Loss of Earning Capacity Benefits policy.
Transport Accident Act 1986 reference: s.49 and s.50
1 The TAC will use the same edition of the AMA Impairment Guides in the review process as previously applied.