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What is the meaning of incapacitated?

Permanent incapacity is when someone develops a permanent medical condition or injury that means they can't work in their usual job anymore.

The ATO sometimes calls this a disability superannuation benefit.

If you meet all the eligibility conditions, it's one of the ways you can withdraw your super or turn it into a pension before retiring or reaching a certain age.

Eligibility requirements

You can withdraw your super for permanent incapacity if:

You have a permanent medical condition (physical or mental) that's likely to stop you from ever working again, in a job you were educated, qualified, or experienced at doing and

At least 2 medical practitioners sign off on your form to get your super.

You might still be able to access your super early for permanent incapacity if you now work in lighter duties, a different position, or casual work in a different field.

Do you have TPD insurance?

If you have insurance in your super account with us, you might also be able to make a total and permanent disability (TPD) claim.

TPD cover provides a benefit on top of, not instead of, your superannuation balance for permanent incapacity.

Log in to our app or Member Online to check whether you have TPD or TPD Assist cover and make a claim.

What if it's just temporary incapacity, not permanent disability?

When a health condition, illness or injury stops you working temporarily, you can't claim your super for permanent disability.

But it's still worth getting in touch with us, because you might be able to claim some of your super to pay for medical treatment on compassionate grounds.

And if you have insurance on your account, you might be able to make an income protection claim instead.

How to claim super under permanent incapacity

  1. Before you apply

    Check how this will affect your disability pension from Centrelink.

  2. Permanent incapacity form

    Fill in our permanent incapacity form with the details of your super with us.

  3. Other documentation to send

    Send us this form, plus a certified copy of your identification document (ID), and a copy of your resume, bank statement, and the medical certificates. You need doctors to confirm you’re not likely to be able to work in a job you’re reasonably qualified for, because of the physical or mental condition. One of these doctors must be a specialist in your illness or injury.

  4. If it's approved

    You can take out some or all of your super as either a lump sum (one big withdrawal), or by opening an Income account for regular payments (an income stream).

  5. Other options if it’s not approved

    Get in touch to see if you can claim your superannuation balance or make an insurance claim for TPD, terminal illness, or medical treatment (compassionate grounds).

How much money can you get?

If your permanent incapacity claim is approved, you can take out some or all of your superannuation account balance with us.

Then if your total and permanent disability insurance claim is also approved, you can get support payments for up to 6 years, or a lump sum. Look up the standard and maximum benefit amounts in the Super Savings Insurance Guide or log in to Member Online to see how much cover you have.

FAQs about permanent disability

If you need any help to process your early access claim or insurance claims, please get in touch so we can help you figure out your next steps.

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Other ways to apply for early access to your super include financial hardship or compassionate grounds. Each of these options has different eligibility criteria you would need to meet.

Permanent incapacity is a specific way to claim some of your super if an illness or injury means you can't do your usual job from now on.

A hypothetical example for the meaning of incapacity could be if a person becomes a quadriplegic after a car accident, and can no longer work as a construction foreman.

After their physical rehabilitation and training in wheelchair skills, they might gradually return to work in lighter duties, such as a construction estimator. Or they might be able to work in a different field entirely, such as an Agile project management specialist.

By comparison, total and permanent disability insurance claims use a specific definition of capacity and disability, depending on the insurance company. So an example for TPD could be if our construction foreman became blind, and they need good eyesight to do any of the jobs they're educated, trained, or experienced in.

In general, taking money out of your superannuation doesn't affect your government payments on a disability pension. But if you use that money to open an Income account or put it in the bank, Centrelink (Services Australia) counts that money in their income and assets tests.

You can call the Financial Information Service Officers at Centrelink to check if you can keep your disability pension stable while making a permanent incapacity or TPD claim.

Your TPD payout or a permanent incapacity may be taxed, but it generally depends on 3 main factors:

  1. Your age when withdrawing the money
  2. How you receive the money (e.g. income payments vs one big withdrawal)
  3. Whether your payment is coming from your super or your insurance, or both.

You should get tax advice when deciding how and when you want to get your payout.

Making a permanent disability claim

When you need to claim your super or insurance for permanent incapacity, please get in touch. We’re here to help.