Work Ability Assessments

Why refer for a Work Ability Assessment?

APM Workcare has occupational therapists, physiotherapists and occupational health nurses who have extensive experience in working with people with a range of health and disability issues including:

  • Pain conditions
  • Mild to moderate mental health issues
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Long-term disabilities
  • Injuries (musculoskeletal, orthopaedic and brain injuries)

APM Workcare utilises strength-based and bio-psychosocial models for all assessments and rehabilitation.

APM Workcare holds a national contract to deliver Work Ability Assessment services for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). These assessments are conducted by APM Workcare's team of registered health professionals which includes occupational therapists, physiotherapists and registered nurses. The purpose of the assessment is to assist clients with an injury or disability to identify their strengths and barriers to maintaining or finding employment, and provide additional information to help Work and Income assist clients.

Since the welfare reform changes in July 2013, MSD case managers are working more closely with people who have some ability to work now or in the near future (so are on Jobseeker Support). Generally, this ongoing one-to-one relationship, together with the client's self-assessment and relevant medical reports, provides enough information to help the person prepare and look for suitable work.

In a few instances, the case manager and client will benefit from getting some specialised advice on the client's strengths, abilities and barriers to work, as well as Work and Income, and will refer them for a Work Ability Assessment. The person carrying out the assessment will take a fresh look at what a client can do, along with the supports and services they might need to find and stay in work.

For more information, please see below commonly asked questions (from the Ministry of Social Development) or contact your local Work and Income Office directly.


What is a Work Ability Assessment?
The assessment looks at a person's strengths and abilities and anything that may be stopping them from working, and is carried out by a specialised medical or health professional who is experienced in assisting people into work. It takes a broad, holistic view of a person's situation.

What is 'work ability'?
Work and Income talks to all clients to understand their ability to work. This takes into account things like:

  • the skills and attributes a person brings to the workplace
  • the type of work a person can do, now and in the future
  • the things a person can do at work
  • the number of hours a person can work
  • a person's confidence to find work

Who will be referred?
People who are on Jobseeker Support with a health condition, injury or disability (previously Sickness Benefit) may be referred where some specialised advice may be helpful. These people will have already been working intensively with a case manager to help them look or prepare for work. Work and Income's regional health and disability teams will help decide if the person should be referred or if some of Work and Income's other services would be more useful to them.

Who does the assessment?
The assessment will be carried out by suitably qualified medical or health professionals, such as occupational therapists, nurses and physiotherapist who are experienced in assisting people into work. It's important to note that Work Ability Assessment isn't about benefit eligibility – it's about getting some additional information to help Work and Income assist the client. People will continue to receive a benefit as long as they're still eligible and meeting their obligations.

Who pays for the assessment and travel costs?
Work and Income pays for the assessment. If needed, Work and Income can help with transport costs. If an interpreter is needed, Work and Income will arrange and pay for this.

Who gets the report?
The Work Ability Assessment will be sent to Work and Income and a copy will be sent to the client and, if they agree, to their doctor.

What happens after the assessment?
The case manager and the client will meet and discuss the report and the assessor's recommendations. They'll work out together what the next steps will be to put these recommendations into action. Any health services required will generally be organised by the client's doctor.