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By Joshua Brown of McNamara and Associates Solicitors

On 1 July 2016 Sunsuper launched a new total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance product which they promote “will remove waiting periods for the majority of claims and focus on early intervention, vocational rehabilitation and, where possible, helping members return to work”.

These changes will affect any person with Sunsuper’s Standard Cover where their date of disablement occurs on or after 1 July 2016. If the date of disablement occurs prior to 1 July 2016, then the disability is assessed under the definition that was in force at that date of disablement.

The new definition (for employed members) is:-

The key features of the new definition are:-

These changes do not affect Sunsuper’s Tailored TPD Cover which has the following definition (for employed members):-

For Tailored TPD cover, the five-year time limit will still apply.

We are quite concerned about these changes and how they will affect people who Sunsuper do not believe have a severe injury or sickness but still cannot return to work. The financial pressures that people experience when becoming disabled are difficult enough without the superfund then drip-feeding the disability benefits to them.

There is also the concern of being required to prove annually that you are still disabled. We believe this is unnecessarily burdensome requiring a person who has suffered a life-changing disability to prove not just once, but six times that they cannot work.

We are specifically concerned with the requirement to be under the care of a Medical Practitioner. What happens in the situation where your doctor says there is nothing further to be done? If you are no longer receiving treatment because you have reached maximum improvement, do you cease to meet the definition?

Our other major concern is how Sunsuper will use the requirement to participate in rehabilitation to circumvent the “education, training or experience” provisions. What is to stop Sunsuper retraining a person in an occupation which they have never had experience,  just so they can say they no longer meet the definition?

It seems that Sunsuper is finding ways to avoid having to pay TPD benefits to everyone but those with the most serious of injuries or illnesses.

A possible way around Sunsuper’s new definition would be to apply for Tailored TPD cover, however at what cost? Sunsuper will likely charge much higher premiums for a Tailored TPD policy.

If you have any concerns about your superannuation policy you should seek advice from a financial advisor.

For more information or assistance for total and permanent disability claims please contact Mr. Joshua Brown on (07) 3812 2300.