Medical certificates

Information for health practitioners about completing medical certificates

Work and Income medical certificates are documents containing health and/or disability related information about a person. They are legal documents. Any statement a health practitioner certifies must be honest and made in good faith (Medical Council of New Zealand; December 2007).

All medical certificates need to:

  • be written legibly (if relevant), minimising the use of medical terms for easy comprehension
  • disclose only information that is accurate and based upon clinical observation, any patient comment should be clearly distinguished from clinical observation
  • clearly identify the examination date and the expected period of treatment.

All retrospective medical certificates should be clearly marked as "retrospective".

  • Types of medical certificates

    Work and Income has the following medical certificates for clients when they are applying for financial assistance.

    • Work Capacity Medical Certificate
    • Disability Certificate (for disability allowance)
    • Disability Certificate - Counselling
    • Disability Allowance - Medical Alarm Assessment
    • Supported Living Payment medical certificate for a person being cared for
    • Child Disability Allowance - Medical Certificate

    You may also be asked to provide a Host Doctor Report or medical information to support an application for PATHS.

  • Who can complete a medical certificate?

    To complete a Work and Income medical certificate you must be a health practitioner, eg, a:

    • doctor - registered to practice in New Zealand and have a current Annual Practicing Certificate. Medical students, unregistered health practitioners and allied health practitioners cannot complete medical certificates
    • dentist - dentists can complete the Work Capacity medical certificate for clients applying if the origin of the injury or disability is dental-related
    • midwife - midwives can complete the Work Capacity medical certificate where the person's incapacity relates to pregnancy
    • nurse practitioner - within their scope of practice, nurse practitioners can complete the Work Capacity medical certificate.

    Important information

    A health practitioner's obligations are to their patient, and to the law. Issues like the type of certificate completed, who initiates it, or who pays the health practitioner's consultation must not influence a health practitioner's assessment and findings.

    You must discuss the certificate with the person, their guardian or representative and ensure they agree to the information being provided to Work and Income.

    You need to ensure that the certificate is

    • completed in ink, or in the practice management system; and
    • that your HPI is provided; and
    • that you have signed the certificate.

    A medical certificate should be issued only once - where a certificate is lost, a duplicate certificate may be requested by a patient; however this duplicate certificate must be completed by yourself and be clearly marked as "duplicate".


    Providing misleading or untrue information, deliberately or negligently, is professionally unacceptable and may be referred to the appropriate agency.

  • Completing the Work Capacity Medical Certificate

    The Work Capacity Medical Certificate provides Work and Income case managers with information to support them to determine a person's eligibility for a benefit. The certificate also assists them to determine the person's capacity for work or ability to undertake work-related activities and to estimate the time the person is likely to be unable to work.

    Note: The Work Capacity Medical Certificate is not benefit specific which means that all information provided will be considered in the decision making and planning process.

    Work Capacity Medical Certificate pads must be kept in a secure place to prevent misuse or fraud.

    For more information about supporting people into work please see:

  • Your responsibility

    Completing a medical certificate entails investigation and responsibility. All Work and Income medical certificates provide case managers with information to help them determine a person's eligibility for a benefit or supplementary benefit.

    If you would like help completing a medical certificate please refer to the guides below or contact your Health and Disability Team. If you do not have their contact details, please call our General Enquiries number 0800 559 009 and one of our Customer Services Representatives will arrange for them to contact you.

  • When to complete

    You should complete a medical certificate as soon as you become aware that the person may be eligible for financial assistance from Work and Income.

    If you have any concerns

    Work and Income recognises that there are circumstances when you may be asked to complete the medical certificate, but you may not be the best person to provide the information. Examples of this may be:

    • the person is under the care of a specialist
    • the person has a complex condition
    • the outcome from treatment is unclear
    • you are placed in a situation of conflict - either through duress or because the person has a complex social or financial situation.

    You should signal on the medical certificate a second opinion may be more appropriate, if you have any concerns about:

    • providing a diagnosis
    • providing an opinion about a person's capacity for work
    • the cost associated with a health condition and/or disability.

    If you indicate that a second opinion should be obtained, we will refer the client to be assessed by a designated health practitioner.

    If you would like to talk to Work and Income about any aspect of the person's diagnosis or ability to work, you can contact your local health and disability team.

  • Availability of medical certificates

    Work Capacity medical certificates (WCMC) are available as a hard copy pad of forms or on many practice management systems. You can also send a WCMC electronically to Work and Income if you are using HealthLink's HISO online forms.

    Pads of Work Capacity medical certificates and all other medical certificates are available from Work and Income.

  • Provider payments

    The information on medical certificates is for the benefit of the client and provides verification of the client's health condition and/or disability, their capacity for work and their ability to undertake work related activities. It is the client's responsibility to meet the costs of the consultation for their medical certificate.

    Work and Income only provides direct payments to health practitioners when we have requested a second opinion.

  • For more information

    If you need more information about completing any of the medical certificates, please contact your local health and disability team. If you do not have their contact details, please call our General Enquiries number 0800 559 009 and one of our Customer Services Representatives will arrange for them to contact you.