Your legal rights to accessing superannuation and insurance

All working Australians have a superannuation fund to which their employer must contribute amounts during the course of their working life. Some people also elect to contribute further to their superannuation personally.  

You can access your superannuation before retirement age in the event of a serious illness like COPD. All superannuation funds also have a component of insurance which is there to help you in the event you are unable to work because of serious illness.

  • Contributions by your employer and you; and
  • Insurance coverage for death and disablement.

All policies are different. Some funds will offer lump sum benefits in the event that you become totally and permanently disabled or partially and permanently disabled. Some funds will provide temporary cover if you are off work for only a short period of time by paying all or a percentage of your income whilst you are unable to work.

  • Lump sum benefits
  • Income protection and/or
  • Death benefits

You should contact your superannuation fund to find out what benefits are available. You should critically analyse the information you are given by the superannuation fund manager or insurer. Because of the complexities involved and the different considerations that apply in your own different circumstances a one size fits all approach often means that some people will miss out on their entitlements.

Legal advice can help to ensure that the information you receive is correct and assists you with accessing all your entitlements.

You do not need to show fault on the part of anyone or that the cause of your illness was beyond your control. Generally the mere fact of having the illness and that it stops you from working is enough.

Benefits are generally available for people of working age. Different funds have different rules and you should carefully check your own circumstances and seek advice.

The terms and conditions applying to these insurance components are sometimes straight forward but often more complex than they look.