What would happen if you, or your significant other, had a workplace injury that meant they were unable to work? Would you still be able to pay your bills? Pay your mortgage or rent? Or even maintain the same quality of life? Workplace injuries and illnesses happen all the time, and the Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service, MIDLAS, are seeing more and more cases of clients coming in with huge debts because they were unable to work. So what can you do? Have you considered using your superannuation?

Did you know that under certain circumstances you can access your superannuation fund early if you are on Centrelink payments, such as the disability support pension, for more than 26 consecutive weeks? Other early release conditions include medical or dental expenses, funeral costs, mortgage foreclosures, and even palliative care expenses. Superannuation contributions have been compulsory in Australia since 1992, so if you have engaged in any kind of employment fulltime, part time or casual, you will have some superannuation somewhere. You can even locate your superannuation funds through the ATO office or the online Super Seeker ATO.

So you now know you have superannuation, but did you know that many superannuation policies have insurances that cover loss of income, such as Income Protection (IP) and Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) Insurance? IP insurance covers you if you are unwell and unable to work for a period of time. IP insurance can pay you up to 85% of your average wage before you became unwell or injured until you are able to return to work. If you are permanently unwell/injured and not able to return to your previous field of employment, you may be able toaccess TPD Insurance . . TPD Insurance comes into play when you are no longer able to work at the same capacity for the field of employment that you have been trained for, such as a plumber or a carpenter who no longer has full function of his hands, how could he work at the same capacity as he was trained? If you have several superannuation funds, and are eligible to claim, you might be able to claim from each superannuation company. The amount that can be claimed varies from insurance policy to insurance policy but it can be a substantial and life changing amount. In fact, a similar case just happened here at MIDLAS.

Recently, an individual was referred to MIDLAS for financial counseling because of their financial hardship situation, during this appointment the client was made aware of our Disability Advocacy services. She had suffered an injury 6 years earlier in a work related accident, and was no longer able to return to work. She had gone into severe debt and had no idea what to do next. After attending an appointment with the MIDLAS Disability Advocate the client discovered that she was possibly eligible for Income Protection (IP) and Total Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance. Even though the client only held a policy with one superannuation company, her calculated payment amount was a substantial total. This was because she was eligible to back date her IP insurance from the time of the accident, so 6 years ago! As you can imagine this amount of income can make a difference to anyone facing financial difficulties. For this client it will make a huge difference, bringing relief from the years of financial hardship and constant stress of how to pay the mortgage each month. Our Disability Advocate commented that “I had the privilege of watching this client’s demeanor completely change, she is now hopeful at the prospect of her future”. All this took was one appointment with our expert Disability Advocate!

So, have you thought about looking into your Superannuation funds policies? You may have some policies and funds that you can access, just like our client, which you didn’t know about.  Superannuation insurance is a standard component of many superannuation policies, so don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it before. You may even want to rethink rolling your polices over into one because you might be better off to keep multiple funds active. With so many options, the process of completing these applications, and knowing what is available to you, can be confusing. Most times you need supporting documentation and evidence, so it is a little overwhelming to know where to start. If you would like assistance with this process our MIDLAS Disability Advocate can help. MIDLAS aims to empower disadvantaged and vulnerable people, which includes Aboriginal and culturally diverse individuals, within our community who are experiencing distress by providing them with free services and confidential information, options, referral and support so they can navigate barriers to achieve a better way of life. To make an appointment or find out more information visit our website: www.midlas.org.au or give us a call on 08 9250 2123