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Disability payouts in Australia – Your guide.

If you’ve had to stop working due to injury or illness, you might be able to claim a disability payout. Most Australians have total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance included in their superannuation funds, although many are unaware of this and may not realise they can claim this lump sum. 

Even after they discover they can claim a payout, many are even more surprised to learn they can actually make multiple lump sum claims at once.  

Read on to find out how this works, whether you can claim a disability payout and how to make your claim in the shortest possible time frame.

How much is a total and permanent disability insurance payout?  

TPD payout amounts typically range between $60,000 and $500,000, with many payouts being more than $200,000.  The amount you can claim is called your ‘insured benefit amount’, and it will be clearly identified on your superannuation member statement.  

But your total disability payout amount could be a lot higher if you have multiple policies. Many Australians have multiple superannuation funds because they’ve changed jobs over the years. So that means many Australians also have multiple TPD insurance policies attached to their super funds. If this applies to you, you may be able to make multiple lump sum claims. 

Take, for example, our client Mary. Mary was diagnosed with MS in 2015, and when she came to Law Partners, she had no idea she had any TPD insurance. But we sorted through years of her unopened super statements, and we discovered she had five valid TPD policies. We successfully claimed against all five policies for Mary, resulting in a total disability payout amount of over $1 million. Needless to say, Mary was thrilled with this result, especially since she had no idea she had any TPD insurance at all. 
Like Mary, many people simply don’t know what policies they have, and don’t know where to start looking, especially if they’re coping with an illness or injury. If you need help, one of our TPD claims specialists can check your super funds for you and tell you how much you can claim. It’s a free service. 

Do I have TPD insurance in my super, and do I qualify for a disability payout? 

Your superannuation member statements will indicate what insurance cover is included in your super, and the insured benefit amount. 

Different insurance policies have different definitions to qualify for a TPD payout. But as a general rule, if you’ve been unable to work due to an injury or illness for an extended period (usually more than three months) with no expectation to return to work, then you may be entitled to disability payout. 

You can call a TPD claim specialist to find out:

  1. If you have TPD insurance in your super 
  1. If you qualify for a TPD payout 
  1. Whether you can make multiple TPD claims 

There’s no cost for this service.

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Is it hard to get a disability payout? 

A total and permanent disability payout is an insurance payment, so your ability to claim depends on meeting the criteria set out in your policy. 

Yet every year, many Australian abandon their claims, because they find the claim process too difficult.* When claims are abandoned, it’s often because the person making the claim failed to provide all the required documents or didn’t complete them properly. This is understandable, especially for people dealing with an injury or illness and stress from having to stop work. But it means the claim process becomes hard, and they give up out of frustration. 

This is why so many people choose to have TPD specialists manage their claims for them. The right TPD specialist will take care of everything from start to finish, and make sure you receive your full entitlements. They may also uncover additional entitlements for you outside your TPD policy.   

*According to ASIC Report REP 633: Holes in the safety net: A review of TPD insurance claims 

How long does it take to get a disability payout from a superannuation fund? 

Generally speaking, it takes 6-12 months for a TPD lump sum payout to be finalised. But some claims can drag on for much longer periods of time – read on to learn how to get your disability payout sooner.  

Insurance companies generally complete their assessments of TPD claims within six months. Some claims are finalised more quickly, but in more complicated claims the insurance company will often take more than six months to make a decision.  

Once the insurance company has made their decision on a disability claim, the trustee of the superannuation fund will also do their own assessment of the claim. This usually takes one to two months.  

However, TPD claim assessments are often delayed because the application isn’t completed correctly, or important information is left out. If you fail to submit a thorough application, it’s likely you’ll end up going through a lengthy process and responding to multiple requests for information from the insurer, and this can really drag on. This results in a lot of valid TPD claims being dropped because the process becomes too onerous for the applicants, who may already be struggling with injury or illness*.  

*According to ASIC REPORT 633 – Holes in the safety net: A review of TPD insurance claims (page 50).  

Here are the three steps to getting your disability claim approved sooner: 

  1. Submit a thorough application. Many people fail to supply all the evidence needed to support their TPD claims, so the insurer has to keep asking for more information and the process drags on. This is why many people who handle their own TPD claims end up failing to get the disability payout they’re entitled to – they give up out of frustration. 
  1. Include a thorough written submissionexplaining why your TPD claim should be approved. A well-written submission will clearly state how your situation satisfies the criteria in your TPD policy. 
  1. Follow up with the insurer to make sure they have everything they need. Being proactive will help avoid unnecessary delays and frustration in the TPD claim process.  

A Law Partners TPD claim specialist can help you submit a thorough claim, to give you the best chance of receiving the maximum TPD payout amount in the shortest possible time frame. We win over 99% of our claims, and we work on a no win no fee basis, so you only pay our fees after you receive your payout. 

How is TPD paid out? 

If your TPD insurance claim is approved, the lump sum is usually paid into your superannuation account, giving you the choice to: 

  1. Withdraw the entire balance 
  1. Make a partial withdrawal and leave the balance in your super 
  1. Leave the entire balance in your super 

Once your TPD payout amount has been paid into your super account, it’s a good idea to get financial advice on your options and the tax implications that apply to your situation. You should do this before you withdraw any funds from your super account.

Is a TPD payout considered taxable income? 

A TPD payout is not considered taxable income, however if you withdraw part or all of your TPD payout amount from your super fund as a lump sum, you’ll need to pay “superannuation lump sum withdrawal tax”. The calculation is different for everyone, and if you have multiple super funds, the calculation will be different for each fund you make a withdrawal from. 

Call 13 15 15 or chat to us now for free advice

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Does a disability payout affect Centrelink? 

Many of our clients ask us about the relationship between a TPD payout and Centrelink benefits. 

The first thing to understand is that your TPD payout will be paid directly into your superannuation account, so it won’t affect your Centrelink benefits. Your superannuation account balance is excluded from Centrelink means testing until you reach the Centrelink Age Pension age, which is between 65.5 and 67. If you’re receiving other benefits, such as child support payments, your TPD payout won’t affect those either. 

However, if you withdraw any money from your TPD (or existing  superannuation) balance, the withdrawal might impact your Centrelink entitlements. In other words, you only need to consider the link between your TPD payout and Centrelink benefits when you decide to access the money in your superannuation account. 

There are different means tests that apply depending on which Centrelink benefits you receive, so it’s a good idea to get professional advice on your entitlements before you access your TPD benefit or superannuation account balance. 

Whether you’re ready to make a claim or just considering your options, there’s no cost to speak to a TPD claim specialist at Law Partners. We’re happy to answer your questions on anything related to TPD claims. 

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