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Can You Work After a TPD Payout?

TPD insurance provides a lump sum payout to Australians who are unable to continue working after an injury or illness. If you’ve ever had superannuation, it’s likely you’ve had TPD insurance, although many people are unaware they’re covered.

But can you return to work if you recover from your injury or illness after you’ve received a TPD payout? TPD policy terms vary, and some policies allow you to retrain and return to work after paying you a lump sum benefit.  

In this article, we explain how to interpret your TPD policy to understand what you can and can’t do after a TPD payout, and how to get free legal advice if you need it.

Couple Discussing Finances And Whether It's Possible To Work After A TPD Payout.

Can you work after a TPD payout?

The short answer is – there are some situations where you can return to work after a TPD payout.

For example, if new treatments or rehabilitation techniques become available, and that results in an improvement in your condition, you might find that you’re able to retrain and take on some work. In this situation, you would have made a successful TPD claim on the basis that there was no expectation you would be able to return to work, but circumstances changed after you received your TPD payout.

The most important point to understand is that TPD policy terms vary between insurers and policies. Read on to learn how to determine whether returning to work is allowed under your policy and in your situation, whether you would need to repay any TPD benefit you’ve received, and where you can get help understanding your TPD policy.

Returning to work after a TPD payout – understanding your TPD policy.

When you make a claim for a TPD benefit, it’s important to understand the terms of your own TPD policy or policies. Definitions of total and permanent disability generally fall into two main categories:

So, with some TPD claims in Australia, you don’t necessarily have to be unfit for all work to make a successful TPD claim.

If you don’t understand the terms of your TPD policy, you can call 13 15 15 and get free advice over the phone.

Being unlikely to be able to return to work in your occupation.

If your TPD policy pays a benefit for being unable to work in your occupation, that means you’re eligible to claim if you can no longer work in the occupation that suits your training and experience due to an injury or illness. So, for example, if you’re a qualified builder and you sustain a back injury that prevents you from doing building work, you can claim a lump sum benefit through your TPD policy.

In this example, the back injury may not prevent you from retraining and working in a new occupation – for example, working in an office job. So, under a policy with this definition, it’s likely you can return to suitable work after you’ve received your TPD payout.

Being unlikely to be able to return to work in any occupation.

If your TPD policy pays a benefit for being unable to work in any occupation, then you’re only eligible to claim a TPD benefit if your injury or illness prevents you not only from working in your own occupation but also from retraining and working in any other occupation.

So, for example, if you’ve developed a mental illness that stops you from going to work altogether, you would be eligible to claim a lump sum benefit.

But what happens in this example if you make an unexpected recovery from your illness? For example, what if you come across a new therapy that results in an improvement in your condition after your TPD payout? If the therapy improves your condition to the point where you can return to some sort of employment, then you can generally do so, even if you’ve received a lump sum TPD benefit. In this situation, it’s very unlikely you’d be required to repay the lump sum benefit, as long as the information you’ve provided is true and accurate.

How can I find out what type of TPD policy I have?

If you’re having trouble understanding which type of TPD policy you have, don’t worry, you’re not alone! And to make matters more complicated, you might have multiple super funds, with multiple TPD policies, and you may be able to make multiple claims.

If you need help understanding your policy, you can call 13 15 15 and get free advice from one of our TPD specialists. We’ll explain your entitlements to you, and we can even find out what policies you may have that you’re not aware of.

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Will I have to pay back my TPD lump sum if I return to work?

No – once a benefit has been paid out, there’s generally no requirement to repay it if you’re able to return to work in the future.

However, it’s important to note that when you make a TPD claim you must provide true and accurate information to the insurer so that they can correctly assess your eligibility for a payout. If you knowingly provide information that’s not true, then the insurer may claim that you made a fraudulent claim and seek repayment.

Where can I get advice on my TPD claim?

Because the terms and definitions in TPD policies vary so much, it can be difficult to interpret your policy and understand your entitlements. Law Partners has a dedicated team of TPD specialists who have helped thousands of Australians make successful TPD claims.

Call us on 13 15 15 and we can look at your policies and explain to you over the phone what you’re entitled to claim – it’s a free service. Then if you decide to pursue your claim, we can take care of everything for you on a no win no fee basis.

Shane Butcher


An accredited specialist in personal injury law and spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, with the best part of 20 years’ experience in assisting injured Australians receive everything they’re entitled to.  

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