Most superannuation and some other policies include benefits in the event the policy holder becomes sick or injured. In almost every case, you will need to be totally and permanently disabled (TPD) and unable to ever work. These policies may also include benefits for the family if the policy holder dies.

Many people do not realise that their superannuation policy might offer this kind of benefit for them. In the event that you have suffered a critical injury which renders you unable to work at all, you may be entitled to a payout from your insurer.

Usually, superannuation is preserved until the date you retire. There are certain circumstances where you can make a claim to access your superannuation early:

  • You have been on Centrelink payments for at least 6 months and are unable to pay your living expenses.
  • You are over the minimum retirement age (55-60), have been on Centrelink payments for 9 months and will no longer be going back to regular work.
  • You cannot make loan repayments due to financial distress and may be forced to sell your home.
  • You are permanently incapacitated for work or have a terminal illness.
  • The preserved amount in your superannuation fund is $200 or less.
  • You are a temporary resident and are permanently leaving Australia.

To access your Superannuation early, you need to make an application either to your superannuation fund or the Department of Human Services depending on which grounds you are making the application.

If you are a temporary resident, your application needs to be made through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Contact an injury compensation lawyer if you need to lodge a claim for early access to your superannuation as strict time limits apply.

A total and permanent disability claim is a lump sum payment that is made against your superannuation insurance. This type of insurance provides for a lump sum payment if you can prove that you are unable to do your normal job or any other kind of employment related to your training and experience. This does not mean you have to be unfit for all work – just the work that fits your skills and experience.

By way of example you may be entitled to claim TPD if:-

  • You work in the building industry
  • Over the years you have developed a chronic back pain condition
  • This prevents you from continuing in your normal employment
  • Your Doctor says you can still do light duties eg school bus driver

You can lodge a claim for benefits as soon as you stop working. You can claim superannuation benefits if you are not working, but have not retired.

Once you have retired, you can claim your superannuation as a lump sum or in instalments.

You may be able to make a claim if:

  • You were working and your employer was paying compulsory superannuation;
  • You suffer any illness or injury preventing you from working for 6 consecutive months;
  • You have entered into a private contract with an insurance provider for income protection or disability insurance;
  • You are under 60 or 65 years of age (depending on the terms of your insurance policy)

For TPD benefits, you need to lodge the claim form provided by your superannuation policy insurer, as well as the relevant documents you need to prove your claim. This can include medical information concerning your accident injuries or medical condition, relevant income records and written submissions.

This may not be the ONLY information that it is required. It is very important that you seek the advice of an injury compensation lawyer to assist with your claim.

Your insurer will probably require an IME with a specialist doctor selected by the insurance company. An IME doctor will examine you for the purpose of providing a Report to the Insurer and will not provide treatment for your medical condition.

It does not matter how your injury or illness occurred. You can still claim superannuation benefits if you suffered any illness or if an injury was caused by a motor vehicle, work related or other accident.

Some common disabilities include a heart attack, cancer, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome or injuries at home. The main requirement is that your medical condition or injury prevents you from working in your normal employment.

It is important to speak with an injury compensation lawyer for advice on your legal right to compensation.

If you had a pre-existing injury or sickness before you joined the superannuation fund, you are generally entitled to claim, but there may be exceptions, depending on the terms of your policy.

Some insurance providers may have clauses that limit the policy if there is a pre-existing injury or sickness particularly if you have not disclosed that medical issue to the insurer at the time of taking out the policy.

Generally, a TPD claim can be lodged in addition to other compensation claims for example, motor accident and work related claims.

However, there are exceptions and we recommended that you speak to an injury compensation lawyer before lodging a TPD claim.

Your entitlement to TPD will most likely cease. However, you could still be eligible for partial disability payments depending on the terms of your insurance policy.

A total and temporary disability claim (TTD) may apply for partial disability, if you cannot return to your normal work duties. TTD applies whether your disability prevents you from working for an extended period.

TTD benefits are usually 75% of your normal income and payable for up to 2 years or until the age of 65.

You should be aware that there is a waiting period for TTD claims. In these circumstances you will need to plan for up to a 3 month period without income before the TTD benefits are paid.

Any TTD payments may also be offset against workers compensation or Centrelink payments.

TTD payments may also be stopped if your employment is terminated or if you receive a TPD lump sum. You should consult an injury compensation lawyer for more information.

There is a right of Appeal to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal for any rejection by the Insurer. You generally have 28 days from the date of refusal to lodge an appeal.

It is highly recommended that you seek advice and assistance from an injury compensation lawyer regarding an Appeal.

This is a lump sum benefit that can be claimed by a dependant or nominated beneficiary of a deceased policy holder.

It is important to lodge a claim as soon as possible following the death of the policy holder, so the trustee is aware of the claim before distributing the death benefit payment.

A dependant is a spouse, defacto partner, child, financial dependant or inter-dependant. A same-sex partner qualifies under the definitions as a defacto partner.
Under most policies, the definition of “child” includes adult children, step-children and adopted children.

A financial dependant is someone who is wholly or partially reliant on the deceased for financial support.

Most superannuation funds offer the policy holder the option of making a binding nomination. This means the superannuation death benefit must be paid to the nominees or in accordance with the terms of the deceased policy holder’s Will.

If there is no binding nomination, the trustees of the superannuation fund will decide who are the dependants of the deceased and will distribute the death benefit to the dependants. If there are no dependants of the deceased then payment will generally be made to the personal representative of the deceased’s Estate for distribution according to the terms of the Will.

As long as you earn at least $450 per month in Australia, the law requires your employer to contribute to your superannuation fund at least every 3 months.

If you believe your employer has not been paying superannuation contributions on your behalf, then you should inform the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) immediately. The ATO will investigate your complaint and if necessary recover your unpaid superannuation plus interest and penalties.

This option is ONLY for unpaid superannuation and for insurance benefits attached to the policy.

If you are covered by an award, enterprise agreement or contract that includes superannuation, then you may be able to lodge a claim against your employer for unpaid contributions, lost insurance benefits and legal costs.

It is important that you speak to an injury compensation lawyer in this regard for advice on your prospects of success.