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Superannuation Disability Benefits

(i) What are Super Disability Benefits?

  • Most super policies include disability benefits – but not all.
  • Super disability benefits are Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) lump sums or disability pensions or both.
  • They are usually insurance benefits which “top up” the contributions in your fund if you have to stop work.

(ii) What are Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Benefits?

  • To get a TPD lump sum, you have to show you can’t ever go back to your usual job or any other suitable work that fits your education, training or experience.
  • You don’t have to be unfit for any work at all. For example, if you have only ever done manual work and can’t do that type of work now, it won’t matter if the doctors say you could do office work.
  • If you lose the use of your arms, legs or eyes, you might qualify for a TPD benefit even if you can still work.
  • There is usually a 6-month qualifying period, but this can be reduced in some cases.
  • Many people with an injury or illness will qualify for a TPD benefit.
  • Many people on Disability Support Pensions or workers compensation will qualify for a TPD benefit.

(iii) What are Total and Temporary Disability (TTD) Benefits?

  • Some funds have weekly or monthly payments if you can’t do your usual job. these are called total or temporary disaibility (TTD) benefits or salary continuance or income protection payments.
  • The payments can be up to 75% of your wage plus super and might be paid for up to 2 years – or perhaps even up to age 65.
  • There is usually a qualifying period of 1, 2 or 3 months before payments can start.
  • Payments are usually offset against workers’ compensation and sometimes transport accident and Centrelink payments.
  • Temporary payments might stop if your employment is terminated or if you are paid a TPD benefit or if you get a Common Law sum-but not always. .

(iv) Automatic Cover

  • Most employment super funds provide disability cover without any health questions – up to certain limits.
  • This means that if you already had an injury or illness before you joined the fund, you will still be covered for disability benefits – including if you stop work because of your injury or illness.
  • However if you want extra cover, you may have to fill in a health questionnaire.

(v) Making Super Disability Claims

a) When to claim:

  • Super disability claims should be made as soon as possible.
  • However, claims can often be made years after stopping work.
  • It doesn’t usually matter if you’ve already been paid out your super contributions.
  • Disability claims can also be made by the estate of a person after they die.

b) How to Claim:

  • There will be claim forms to fill in and medical reports and other papers to lodge.
  • You might be asked to sign medical, workers’ compensation and tax authorities and to go to a few medical and rehabilitation examinations.
  • However you only have to give them reasonable information that is relevant to the claim and usually go to no more than 1 or 2 medical appointments.
  • It’s very important to give the right information and medical reports and to make submissions to help your claim. If you are too involved in the claim that can be used against you.
  • TPD claims usually take approximately 12 months and TTD claims approximately 2-4 months. However, both can be longer.

c) What if Your claim is rejected or you are mucked around?

  • You can lodge a complaint with the fund (Section 101 Complaint).
  • They have 90 days to make a decision on the complaint.
  • If your claim is still not successful, you can appeal to the court or to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT).
  • The SCT is an alternative to the courts. It’s quicker and cheaper than most courts and cases are decided by written submissions and replies without formal hearings.
  • There are restrictions on the types of complaints the SCT can deal with. for example time limits on TPD claims.
  • It’s very important to get update reports and make detailed submissions to support an appeal to the courts or an SCT complaint.
  • Many appeals and complaints win or are settled.

(vi) Important Note -Get Help

  • There are time limits for appeals to the courts and  SCT complaints.
  • Disability claims can be complicated and take a long time. It’s very important that you at least find out about your rights.
  • Get advice and help with a claim or appeal. See ‘Free Super and Insurance Advice Service‘ fact sheet.

Next Section: Superannuation Death Benefits