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).

Information

We've made changes to our Work Capacity Medical Certificate process for people getting Jobseeker Support. We'll write to people when they need to provide one for their next review. See more details below.

All medical certificates need to:

  • be written legibly (when using a paper form) and minimise the use of medical terms for easy comprehension
  • share 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 when, based on their treatment plan, the patient's work capacity should be reassessed.

Types of medical certificates

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

You may also be asked to provide information to assess if there are additional financial supports or services the person may be eligible for or able to access.

  • Changes to Work Capacity Medical Certificates process 2022

    From 31 January 2022, we restarted subsequent Work Capacity Medical Certificates for people with a health condition, injury or disability getting Jobseeker Support.

    These are used to help assess:

    • the impact a person's health condition, injury or disability has on their capacity to work,
    • what financial assistance the person may be eligible for, and
    • what employment support they may need.

    Changes to medical review periods

    We’ve also changed how often a person needs to have a medical review with their health practitioner.

    The time between medical reviews is now based on advice from the person's health practitioner. The period is the health practitioner's best clinical estimate of when they should next assess a person's capacity to consider suitable employment.

    Letting people know they need to renew their medical certificate

    From January 2022, we'll write to the people affected when it's time for them to renew their medical certificate. People will get four weeks' notice before their medical certificate expires, so they'll start to visit their health practitioners from February 2022.

    Expiries are staggered between February and August 2022, to reduce impact on the health sector.

    Please note: People receiving Supported Living Payment are contacted to provide a new medical certificate at their two-yearly medical reassessment. These reassessments were restarted in August 2021, and so you may have already had patients coming to you for these.

  • How we use medical certificate information

    To help our staff understand the impact of a person's health condition, injury, and disability on their capacity to work, we depend on assessments from their health practitioner.

    We use this information, along with what else we know about the person's situation, to:

    • provide the right financial assistance and employment support (where appropriate) for the person's circumstances
    • assess the person's level of work obligations - based on their capacity for full or part-time work, no capacity or the need to prepare for work
    • inform decision-making and planning that can be used to support the person to be as independent as they can.

    For more information about supporting people into work please see:

  • Who can complete a medical certificate

    To complete a Work and Income medical certificate you must be a health practitioner as defined under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPAA). For example, 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 obligations are to their patient, and to the law. Issues like the type of certificate completed, who initiates it, or who pays the consultation must not influence a health practitioner 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 and dated the certificate.

    A medical certificate should be issued only once -if 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".

  • Your responsibility

    Completing a medical certificate entails investigation and responsibility. All Work and Income medical certificates provide our staff 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 our guides or contact the Health and Disability Team in your region. If you don't 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 another doctor
    • the person has a complex condition
    • if you don't have access to previous medical history
    • 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 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.

  • Availability of medical certificates

    Online

    If you're using HealthLink's HISO online forms, you can submit an electronic Work Capacity Medical Certificate to Work and Income directly.

    Hardcopy

    Work Capacity Medical Certificates are also available as a hard copy pad of forms. You can contact your Regional Health and Disability Advisor to get a pad of copies sent to you. Pads must be kept in a secure place to prevent misuse or fraud.

  • 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.