Accessing superannuation and insurance for injury compensation
It's a little known fact that most Super funds contain insurance cover, often 'buried' in the fine print, which will cover you in the event that you become incapacitated.
These are called Superannuation Disability Benefits. The same insurance policy almost always also contains death insurance.
Most workers are ignorant of these benefits because they are simply packaged in with Super, but you may have been paying premiums from your own Super regardless.
This is important because, in the event that you become disabled or incapacitated, you may be able to lodge a claim against your Super scheme.
Claims may be made for permanent disability, in which case a lump sum may be paid, or for a temporary disability, which attract monthly payments. The former is called a Total Permanent Disability payment. The second can be called either Income Protection, Salary Continuance or a Total and Temporary Disability payment, depending on the policy wording. These monthly payments may be continued for up to two years and sometimes even longer.
Your claim may be lodged in the event of illness, an accident at work or on the road or in fact as a result of any incapacity that you may have which stops you from working.
Does timing of my injury or illness matter?
If you have stopped working and you are no longer insured, you might still be able to make a claim. What matters is whether you were insured when you suffered your injury or when you last worked. If in doubt, you should have your lawyer check because sometimes Super funds inadvertently advise people they are not insured when they actually were at the relevant time.
Will a claim on my Super fund affect my WorkCover or TAC payments?
Possibly, but this will vary depending on the size and type of Super benefit.
If you are paid a lump sum by your Super fund, your weekly WorkCover payments might stop for a period of time. How long they are halted will depend on the size of the lump sum, your WorkCover payments and when you were injured.
However, you can avoid the risk of having your weekly payments cut off as long as you do not withdraw your superannuation benefits until your WorkCover entitlements are finalised.
This is not the case, however, with TAC benefits. Your Super benefits will not affect payments from the Transport Accident Commission. These will continue.
How do I check on my Super cover?
The first step is to ensure that your Super scheme does in fact come with an insurance policy. If you have details of your scheme, you can check this yourself. It is often, but not always, listed on one of your Super statements.
If you are unsure or feel you'd like assistance, we are only too happy to help you check. Lodge a query online or call us on 1300 366 441 and ask to speak with one of our compensation lawyers. We will help determine if you are eligible for a claim.
This service is completely free of charge.
What if I've had Super funds in the past or may have belonged to a fund I may have forgotten?
You may still be entitled to lodge a disability benefit claim.
Don't worry. Many people have contributed to different funds during their working lives. It is difficult to keep track of them sometimes.
The important point is that you may have had insurance cover in your Super scheme at the time you became incapacitated. Some Super funds stop insurance cover once you stop contributing to the fund but some Super funds continue your insurance cover so it is always worthwhile checking your old funds.
The Australian Taxation Office website has a useful online tool for checking on whether or not you have an old Super fund. Go to the ATO's SuperSeeker tool.
What if my claim is rejected?
The first step is to ask your Super fund to review the decision. At this stage, it is a good idea to get legal advice if you haven't already. Again, we offer a first appointment free of charge if you wish to speak to us about your chance of being successful in your claim.
If, after review, your claim is rejected, don't panic. If you feel you have been unfairly treated, you may lodge an appeal to the Superannuation Compalints Tribunal (SCT) or challenge the decision in court. You can get helpful information from the SCT website.
Unlocking the benefits of your Super early
In addition to the insurance benefits, the balance of your Super fund can be accessed early, that is, before retirement age, should you become incapacitated. This balance will be taxed at a concessional tax rate.
For further information, see our blog, Super benefits can be unlocked early.
Other types of insurance benefits - home loans
You may be entitled to insurance benefits that you are not aware of. Many banks now require you to take mortgage protection insurance in order to qualify for a home loan.
This means that, should you be unable to work for a time because of health or injury problems, you will likely have a claim.
Other types of insurance benefits - credit cards
LIkewise, many credit cards come packaged with benefits that include insurance. It pays to check.
Other types of insurance benefits - sporting clubs
Almost all sporting clubs now pay insurance premiums to cover injuries to their players.