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Superannuation – Disability and Income Insurance

Lump sum payments for total and permanent disability

If you’re injured in the course of your employment, or become ill as a result of it, you are probably already aware of the benefits that are available under WorkCover.

What many people are not aware of is the additional cover and benefits that are usually available if they also have superannuation. This is because most superannuation schemes also include insurance for total and permanent disability which will entitle the holder to a lump sum payment in the event that they are unable to work.

You may not been aware of having this cover because when you sign up with a super fund, the insurance cover is often included as a default.

In addition, super schemes also typically offer income insurance, which can be opted into as an extra monthly premium payable along with your super contributions.

The point is that if you in covered by super, you are likely to have active insurance cover in the event you are totally and permanently disabled. This insurance will make you a lump sum compensation payment and which can be kept in addition to WorkCover entitlements.

Income insurance

Separately and additionally, you may also have opted into income insurance cover when signing up with your super scheme. This can be claimed against in the event you are unable to work.

Sometimes this income insurance is called a temporary disability paymentincome protection or salary continuance, but whatever it is called in your policy it is essentially income support. These monthly payments may be continued for up to two years and sometimes even longer. 

This policy may be important in helping top up your WorkCover income payments. What is more, as WorkCover weekly benefits terminate after 130 weeks, income protection could then be used to give you a continuing income.

Of course, there may be circumstances under which you are injured outside of work that prevent you from accessing any WorkCover benefits, and in which case you would be entitled to receive your super insurance benefits almost immediately.

 

Lodging a claim

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 under your income insurance.

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?

If you are paid a total and permanent disablement lump sum benefit, your weekly WorkCover payments will not be affected.  Nor will these benefits be affected by 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 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 about super I’ve had in the past?

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 others 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 Complaints 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.

Click here to submit information online so we can investigate your eligibility to make a claim .Once you have completed and submitted our online questionnaire, we will contact you within two business days to discuss your claim further.

Or call 1300 366 441 or find us at an office near you for free initial advice on Superannuation matters.