Noose Around My Neck
Author: Annette Mary Moody

Chapter 0
Appendix i - Letter of Protest

 

The Noose Around My Neck – Appendix i

 

To:

Hon Dr Michael Cullen, Minister of Finance

Hon Annette King, Minister of Justice

Hon Ruth Dyson, Minister of ACC

Mr David Butler, Commissioner IRD

Hon Mark Gosche MP for Labour

Hon Rodney Hide, MP for ACT

Accident Compensation Appeals Registry

ACC Legal Services

Letter of Protest

Justice vs. ACC vs. Taxes

I have sought legal counsel regarding my right to apply for special leave to the High Court for a ruling on A1 38/07. The recommendations are that I not invest monies I don’t have and that I seek redress by writing a letter of protest to you.

I am representative of many not receiving fair justice within the ACC system. To lobby for change, and to get resolution, I submit the following points on behalf of myself and other ACC recipients. I also protest at how much energy and effort is required to not only instigate change, but to get answers that adequately reflect concerns. It is not fair and just to expect people of diminished capabilities to spend their limited energies fighting. I have ‘repetitive strain injury’, thus the years I have spent sifting through papers, typing, collating, and filing has injured me further. This should not be.

Please understand how frustrated, angry and disappointed I am with ACC’s process for complaints and remedial action. We feel let down by the very agents who are in place to help.

I hope I can encourage you to change the attitudes of the staff employed to handle complaints at branch level, within the office of complaints, review officers, mediators and especially ACC’s legal counselors.

The people benefiting from our distress are the legal staff that ACC pay to argue against the claimant. The review officers at Dispute Resolution Services Limited, give the impression that they are here to support ACC, not the claimant, and that because they get their fat fees they will find in favour of ACC, even when they shouldn’t. I have worked through 2 reviews and 3 mediations. On 2 occasions my union hired a barrister to defend me. They argued with each other with no resolution for me! No mediated agreements were followed up by ACC nor were they properly enforced, and certainly not in a timely manner.

Questions:

Isn’t mediation for discussion? Isn’t mediation for resolution? When will I be listened to? When will my problem/s be resolved?

I went to the District Court and appeared before a judge, he voiced his agreement that the formula for the calculations of weekly compensation and taxes is confusing and complicated, then found in ACC’s favour. I put the papers before another judge he found in favour of ACC’s legal counsel, whom he evidently likes. I received permission to place this before a third judge, one whom I hoped would be impartial and independent of ACC – it was the first judge again! How can this be?

And now I come to you.

Questions:

Is the judicial process impartial?  Is it for us? Is it to seek resolution? Where is my due process? We should be able to move through these judicial avenues without resorting to hiring our own legal counsel. We should not feel compelled to have support people/witnesses present. These procedural steps and outcomes should be in plain English. Why aren’t they?

Background:

ACC’s case manager ceased my weekly compensation, with little notice and no substantive reason. I filed an application for review. I approached WINZ and my employer as alternative and necessary immediate sources of income.

I waited 3 weeks for any monies to come from WINZ. This amount barely covered my mortgage and food. I received a sickness benefit with an accommodation allowance for 3 weeks. It was later repaid to WINZ by ACC.

Almost in tandem I commenced a 3-week part-time work trial with my employer. When this was completed I applied for and received 100% sick leave for approximately 3 months. I paid secondary tax on all earnings. I also took some outstanding annual leave, again paying secondary tax on this amount. I was in constant communication with WINZ and my employer.

1.5 days prior to the scheduled review, ACC’s legal counsel, rang to say that ACC had re-looked at the situation and had found ‘in my favour’ therefore would reimburse me my weekly compensation. I instructed counsel to liaise with my employer.  I told her I had been working, and receiving WINZ and was currently using my accumulated sick leave. This instruction and information was ignored.

At Fault:

Counsel took an oath at Mediation to say that she had not received these instructions. She lied under oath. A mediator and a reviewer perpetuated her lie. Another mediator tried to bully me into submission. Where is my compensation?

ACC and DRSL and the District Court decline to admit or acknowledge that ACC made a mistake in ceasing my entitlements.  Where is my compensation?

Code of Claimants Rights; ‘I have the right to be fully informed and treated fairly’, then why has it taken 5+ years of letters, requests and reviews/mediations followed by 3 district court proceedings to get some answers? I still seek resolution.

3.5 years later ACC sat down with my support person and me. We went over the calculations. The figures did not balance with what I had received and what ACC said I had earned, but the ACC Branch Manager ignored this. Where is my compensation?

Frequently I receive letters of demand from ACC’s Debt Collection Unit, telling me that my automatic payment has failed and that I must pay by credit card [imagine!] or cheque [amazing!] by return post. In good faith I instigated a payment plan. I pay $20.00 per fortnight – a princely sum considering my circumstances. This payment has never defaulted. I get demands to submit a statement of financial position. The latter is intrusive, an invasion of privacy and totally unnecessary; simple arithmetic shows that net earnings from ACC i.e. $500 - mortgage - electricity – insurances – telephone – kiwi saver – petrol – treatments – etc – etc = no disposal income.

I complained about this harassment - and it is harassment. I was told that this demand for payment is automatically and periodically computer generated! This demand for payment has continued throughout my attempts at resolution, and as recently as December 2007. Further I was told I could expect to have 40% per week deducted as of 3 January 2008. This would cripple me.

At Fault:

ACC’s Debt collection unit needs to:

Change its computer programme to reflect our needs.

Personnel need to show compassion towards Claimants.

Work on personnel’s customer services skills.

Live the Code.

ACC won’t give:

Time payment options.

An invoice.

Quarterly balance statements.

A resolution.

An apology.

Agencies such as Complaints Investigations office, the Combined Trade Union and Dispute Resolution Services are funded by ACC, is this not an oxymoron?

At Branch level, ACC should have sat down at the earliest opportunity and explained the calculations to me. We should be able to negotiate. Mediation and review should be a last resort. But the fact is this situation of overpayment should not have arisen. ACC is and was in error, and the avenues for Justice are not working. ACC needs to be held accountable. Where is my payment for my efforts?

The original “Debt” was $5,418.90 DMU Number 4031739. Outstanding now is circa $4,100.00. This ‘Debt’ is made up by an overpayment of weekly compensation and 20 days annual leave.

We must be able to utilise our annual leave entitlements, which we have rightfully earned. We need it the same as you, more so.

I want a written apology.

I want the balance written off.

I want my annual leave entitlements reimbursed.

Further, ACC allows for an employer ‘top up’ of income. So, 80% from ACC + 20% from employer = 100% of ONE income. ACC and IRD does not recognise this. IRD says the 20% is another source of income. This means that the claimant pays one amount at ‘M’ and another at ‘S’ or must seek a ‘special tax code’. This is not fair or just accounting.

At Fault:

‘Top up’ contributes to the 1 income. Taxes need to reflect this by making both the 20% and 80% taxed at the ‘M’ rate.

This will then reflect a truer income and fairer tax rates when recommencing a graduated return to work programme or work ready programme.

Please authorise reimbursement of my taxes for the past 8 years.

I seek your help and I expect a definitive personal reply from you please.

Sincerely

Regrettably I haven't had a 'definitive' or in even a 'personal' reply. I decided to turn my letter into a Petition to the House as follows:

I submitted my Petition to Parliament by April 2008. I was asked by the Petitions Clerk if I wanted to take out the names I had included, e.g. Judge Beattie because it was vaguely indicated to me by him, that if I kept the names in my document these people would be written to and asked to reply to my comments. It was further suggested that in the interest of moving things along it would be an expedient use of time to remove any names, and so being the novice in these matters that I am, I did.

Today I have decided that if I had kept the names in, work would have been done and the matter/s may well have carried more weight to the Select Committee assigned to this petition. I waited and waited and, again waited for a response. On 4 February 2009 as I was surfing the Parliament website www.parliament.govt.nz I found under the section called ‘Select Committee Reports’ the following …

‘The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee has considered Petition 22005/166 of Annette Mary Moody, requesting that the House review the actions of ACC in managing the petitioner’s case, and has no matters to bring to the attention of the House’. [Signed by] Hon Vui Mark Gosche Chairperson, the very person who had endorsed my nomination as a Justice of the Peace, and whom I had recently been in the company of!

News to me! I was appalled to find this report. I was offended that I had not been personally contacted. Any possibility of a ‘right of reply’ was denied me.

In the meantime ACC had indeed begun to support and assist me over the past year and so; over a couple of days and within my pain parameters I typed in all the new email addresses of our Ministers, edited my work and wrote;

09 February 2009

To: The All Members of Parliament

Letter of Request

Taxes & ACC

ACC encourages an employer to ‘top up’ income, or ACC will ‘top up’ an Employee’s income. Therefore,

80% from ACC +

20% from Employer =

100% of ONE income

 

IRD does not recognise this. IRD says the 20% is another source of income. This means that the Claimant pays tax on one amount at ‘M’ [main] and tax at another rate of ‘S,’ ‘ST,’ ‘SH’ or ‘STC’ [secondary]. The last tax year burdened me with a further $700.00 in PAYE at ‘S’!

 

Members with your help we could have:

80% @ ‘M’ + 20% @ ‘M’ for the ONE income

 

This reflects a fairer tax rate. When commencing a Graduated Return to Work or Work Ready Programme the taxes become even more of a burden, leaving the Claimant short of necessary funds.

 

Would you please authorise reimbursement of my secondary taxes for the past 10 years. Would you please explain why when receiving ACC insurance payments we cannot access annual leave entitlements? How can this be rectified?

 

Sincerely

 

 

[Miss] Annette Moody JP

 

ACC was set up for the people by the people in our time of need. ACC is our public insurance company. All ACC associated agencies and personnel work for you and for me. Without us, ACC could not operate.

 

[Author’s Note] I promise to keep you updated ….

 

 

Annette Moody JP

ACC was set up for the people by the people for our time of need. ACC is our public insurance company. All associated agencies and personnel work for you and for me. Without us, ACC could not operate. Realise this and act accordingly ACC.

 

 

 

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