TPD Payments and Superannuation

I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 25 years old. At the time, I did not have health insurance. However, I knew that I had a life insurance policy in place through my superannuation provider, MLC, as I ensured I nominated my partner as my beneficiary before I had surgery to remove my brain tumour. After visiting Centrelink for the first time (and realising I was in for a long wait before I would receive any funding) I thought I should research whether I could get access to any compensation from my superannuation provider.

I started looking into a TPD payment under the advice of a friend, however I was a bit uncertain about applying from the description of ‘Total and Permanent Disability’ outlined on the website of my provider. My concerns were validated when I called them directly – in order to be eligible for a TPD payment, you need to be totally and permanently disabled from your illness, which did not apply for me as I was receiving treatment under the assumption that I would eventually be completely capable of returning to work without impairment, therefore I was not expected to be ‘totally and permanently’ disabled.

There was the option to apply for early access to my superannuation on compassionate grounds through the Department of Human Services. I was already in the process of applying for the DSP through Centrelink so I was awaiting their response before applying for early access to my super balance which, to be honest, wasn’t exactly a fortune considering I opened my superannuation account only 6 years prior and I had not earned a lot during that time.

Also, given that my employer had a salary continuance scheme in place for me already, I couldn’t claim any income protection policies in place. So although I was not receiving enough money each month from the salary continuance scheme in place to sustain a basic standard of living, there were no additional payments I could gain access to from my super provider.

Unfortunately, I feel claiming compensation through your superannuation provider as a young person can be rather fruitless given you may be too young to have accumulated much of a nest egg, in a junior position in your career and therefore not earning a whole lot, or were unprepared for any medical emergencies to occur this early on in your life and therefore do not have insurance policies in place to protect yourself. However, there is absolutely no harm in inquiring as policies do tend to vary depending on who your providers are. It pays to have confirmation of what you are entitled to so I certainly recommend inquiring with your superannuation provider or other insurance policy providers you are involved with – even if you are not eligible for any payments, at least you have ensured you have checked all possible options.

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