Senator Nick Sherry, Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, has reminded super fund members that in the wake of the devastation caused by bushfires in Victoria, those affected may, depending on their circumstances, be able to claim either death or Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) insurance attached to their superannuation or seek early access to superannuation.

“The circumstances in Victoria are simply appalling and I would like to express my condolences to all those who have suffered and lost loved ones.”

Insurance

“At such a time, some people may not immediately recall that they are likely to have TPD and death insurance via their superannuation fund. I strongly encourage those that are able, to consider this option. Claims should be made directly to a person’s super fund.”

“Today, I have spoken with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, and asked it to communicate with super funds and their insurers about prioritising bushfire-related life insurance and TPD claims.”

“I have also spoken with Pauline Vamos, chief executive of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, who has confirmed super funds will do everything they can to assist,” said Minister Sherry.

Early access

Usually, superannuation savings cannot be accessed before an individual is at least 55 years old. However, under limited, prescribed circumstances, the law allows early access. This includes applications under ‘severe financial hardship’ provisions. Such applications must be made directly to your super fund and strict conditions for this early release must be met.

“A person should contact their superannuation fund directly to apply to access their superannuation in circumstances such as ‘severe financial hardship’,” Minister Sherry said.

APRA separately administers applications for early release of superannuation on prescribed ‘compassionate grounds’. These grounds include mortgage assistance in the case of threat of foreclosure, certain medical expenses, modifications to a home or vehicle in the case of severe disability, and expenses associated with a dependent’s death or funeral.

“I have also asked APRA to prioritise any access requests arising from an area where the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery arrangements apply. This will include Victorian bushfire-related and Queensland flood-related applications for early access to superannuation on specified ‘compassionate grounds’.”

It is important to note that all early access cases are assessed on objective criteria subject to the law and trust deed rules.

For further information on early access to superannuation, contact Centrelink on 13 10 21 or visit www.centrelink.gov.au.

For information on applications to APRA visit www.apra.gov.au and follow the links under superannuation.

Alternatively, you can call the APRA Contact Centre on 1300 131 060 Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm AEDST