To help people facing financial hardship due to Coronavirus, the Government has temporarily changed the rules around accessing super. If you’re eligible you can access some money from your super – up to $10,000 of your super before 1 July 2020, and a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020.

Before you decide to take money out of your super, take some time to decide what’s best for you, not just for today, but tomorrow too.

It’s important you understand how accessing your super early may affect your long-term retirement savings, and the insurance in super you may have.

Age Amount accessed early Estimated reduction in balance at retirement (age 67)*
30 $20,000 $43,032
40 $20,000 $35,024
50 $20,000 $28,506

*These results have been generated using the ‘Super withdrawal estimator’ available on the ASIC MoneySmart website at https://moneysmart.gov.au/covid-19/accessing-your-super. The estimates are based on assumptions including a retirement age of 67, a gross investment return of 7.5% pa, tax on earnings of 7%, investment fees of 0.85% pa, income of $50,000 and an initial inflation rate of 2.5% pa with a growth rate of 1.5% pa. All results are shown in today’s dollars. Additional assumptions are outlined in the ‘Super withdrawal estimator’. The above table is provided for illustrative purposes only and is not specific to the fees and costs of a particular financial product. Investment returns are not guaranteed.

Five things to think about before applying

We know that many Australians are doing it tough and being able access super early has made it possible to pay bills or debts. But before taking steps to get early access to super, Martina Taylor, Superannuation Consultant, talks about five things to think about:

  1. Eligibility
  2. Short-term consequences
  3. Long-term impact on your retirement
  4. Other financial support
  5. Insurance in super

Further reading: Early release of super – second application

Plum is aware of current scam phone calls targeting Australians. Please see FAQ below for more information.

FAQs

Coronavirus & early access to super

  • The amount paid reflects the available funds in your super account. The balance the ATO have for your account was correct at 30 June 2019, and your account balance may have changed since that date due to:

    • contributions added
    • tax applied
    • fees paid
    • any insurance premiums paid; and/or
    • market movements.
  • If the balance in any of your super accounts is less than $6,000, you won’t pay more than 3% pa in fees and costs¹. We’ll assess your balances at the end of the financial year (30 June each year) or when you exit, and if you’ve paid more than 3% pa in fees and costs on any account with a balance of less than $6,000, you’ll be refunded the difference.

    If your account has a zero balance after you withdraw funds under the COVID-19 Early Release of Super, your account will remain open for three months from the date of your super payment.  At the end of the period, if neither you nor your employer have made any contributions or rollovers, we’ll close the account and let you know.  

    Your insurance will end when you don’t have enough funds in your account to cover the cost of the premiums.  You can still claim for events prior to your cancellation date.

    Please refer to the FAQs under Coronavirus & the impact to your insurance in super for the implications of a zero balance in your super account.

    For more information about fees, check your Product Disclosure Statement.

    ¹These fees and costs include administration fees, investment fees and indirect costs.

  • Once you have applied, here are the next steps for successful applications:

    1. The ATO assesses and approves the request
    2. The ATO provides Plum with a determination, optimally the next business day
    3. MLC receives the information from the ATO and processes it
    4. MLC makes the payment into your nominated bank account, targeting within five business days
    5. If we have your mobile number, we’ll let you know via SMS once we’ve completed your payment
  • To be eligible for early release of super you must satisfy any one of the following requirements:

    • You are unemployed.
    • You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance.
    • On or after 1 January 2020:
      -  you were made redundant
      -  your working hours were reduced by 20% or more, or
      -  if you’re a sole trader your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.


    These payments will be tax-free and won’t be assessable when determining your entitlement to Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs entitlements.
     

    Can Australians living overseas access the early release of super scheme?

    Australian citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for the scheme. New Zealand citizens with Australian held super are also eligible.

    The Government has also confirmed that certain temporary residents will be able to access their superannuation under the ‘compassionate ground - coronavirus condition of release’. Groups of temporary residents that can access superannuation include:

    • holders of student visas which they’ve held for 12 months or more and who are unable to meet immediate living expenses
    • temporary skilled visa holders who’ve had their hours reduced to zero since 1 January 2020 and continue to be employed by their employer, and
    • other temporary visa holders who are unable to meet immediate living expenses.

    Eligible temporary residents can apply in the 2019/20 financial year only. They’ll need to register and apply through MyGov in the same method as residents and non-residents.

    Further information is available at ato.gov.au including details on which temporary visas are covered.

     

    Can defined benefit members access the early release of super payment?

    If you’re a defined benefit member with an accumulation account, you can apply for a COVID-19 Early Release payment from the funds in your accumulation account. If there’s not enough in your accumulation account to cover the payment, or you’re a defined benefit member without an accumulation account, it will generally not be possible to make a payment from your defined benefits.

  • How to apply

    You’ll need to submit an application to the ATO. This will be available from 20 April 2020.

    Please note, you can only make one application this financial year for up to $10,000. You will need to submit a separate application next financial year to access the remaining $10,000 by 24 September 2020.

    These are the steps to follow:

    • Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au or create one by selecting create an account and authenticate your identity.
    • Complete the application form in ATO Online. If you’re unable to access online services, call the ATO and complete the application over the phone.
    • Certify that you’re eligible to receive the benefit.
    • Review a list of open accounts including the last account balance reported (in most cases that’s 30 June 2019).
    • Input the amount you wish to access from each account (must not exceed $10,000).
    • Input your nominated bank account details (account name, BSB and account number).
    • Authorise the ATO to provide your application to your super fund. They’ll then action the release of you super into your nominated bank account.


    When can you apply

    Applications for early release of super in the 19/20 Financial Year are open from 20 April to 1 July 2020.

    For the 20/21 Financial Year applications, the dates are from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020.

     

    What documents do you need when you apply (i.e. you’ve been made redundant or had hours reduced).

    To find out more about what documents are required, please refer to the application process in your myGov account at my.gov.au You won’t need to supply these documents to MLC.

    More information is also available at ato.gov.au or my.gov.au

Coronavirus & the impact to your insurance in super

  • Yes - your insurance may be impacted. This is because your insurance premiums are paid from your super account which will further reduce your super balance (unless your employer pays for the cost of your insurance cover) - so you must have enough super savings to pay for the cover.

    So, it’s important to take a moment and think carefully about whether you want to have insurance as part of your super.

    You can find out more about insurance in super here.

    And don’t forget, you can change or cancel your insurance at anytime, by calling us.

  • Yes. Our members with insurance through their super are covered for claims arising from the Coronavirus  -  there are no pandemic-related exclusions that apply to our cover or claims.

    It’s important to know that other exclusions, terms, conditions, eligibility criteria, and waiting periods still apply to the cover and to claims – details of which you can find in your Insurance Guide, part of the Product Disclosure Statement.

    If you need to make a claim, our team is ready to help.

  • Rest assured our claims payment will continue as normal and it’s important to us that we support you during this difficult time. If you need to make a claim or find out more about your current claim, we’re ready to help.

  • Income Protection (IP) - also known as Salary Continuance Insurance (SCI) -  is designed to pay you part of your employment income if you can’t work due to illness or injury.

    Changes to the hours you work: Typically, you must work the minimum 14 hours each week to be eligible for IP/SCI cover. If your working hours fall below the minimum or you become unemployed, you won’t be eligible for the insurance cover.

    Your IP/SCI sum insured is based on your monthly income as defined in the Insurance Guide before you became disabled or partially disabled. If your salary is reduced, your insurance benefit payment after becoming disabled or partially disabled may also decline. Any JobKeeper payments you get will be considered income and will reduce any total or partial disability benefit you can claim.

  • We’ll assess your TPD claim against the disability definition that applied to your working arrangements as at 11 March 2020 (when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared) if:

    • You become totally and permanently disabled due to illness or injury between 11 March 2020 and 27 September 2020;
    • Your TPD premiums were up to date when you became totally and permanently disabled; and
    • You lodge a completed claim form on or before 1 January 2021.

    If your Death and TPD cover is calculated on your salary, we’ll look at the salary we’ve previously accepted, and the salary we accepted after 11 March 2020, and we’ll use whichever is higher.  Premiums must be paid on the higher salary.

    For more information about eligibility criteria, including how much you can apply for; what you’re covered for; when cover starts and stops; and limitations and exclusions, refer to the Insurance Guide that’s part of the Product Disclosure Statement.

    To submit a claim, simply call us on 1300 55 7586 and we’ll explain our claims process. To find out more about making a claim, please refer to the Plum Insurance Guide.

  • If your super account doesn’t receive contributions or rollovers for 16 consecutive months, your super account will be considered inactive and your insurance in super may be cancelled, unless you tell us you want to keep the cover.

    There must be enough money in your super account to pay for your insurance premiums. If there isn’t, your insurance in super may be cancelled. However, don’t worry -  we’ll be in touch if your super account doesn’t have enough money to pay for the premiums or it becomes inactive so that you can let us know what you’d like to do with your insurance.

    If your insurance is cancelled, you can’t claim for an illness or injury after the cancellation date. However, you can still claim for illness or injury that happened before your cover was cancelled. The insurer will assess any claim you make and the Trustee will let you know whether the claim is accepted or declined.

    If your insurance cover stops for any other reason, you can secure cover again, subject to health evidence provided to and accepted by the Insurer.

    To submit a claim, simply call us on 1300 55 7586 and we’ll explain our claims process. To find out more about making a claim, please refer to the Plum Insurance Guide.

    You can change or cancel your insurance at any time. Call us, or visit the Useful forms, terms and info section in our insurance page, or search in Forms and Publications.

  • Yes, for the majority of our policies there are no exclusions for a pandemic.

    There are a few policies* that have a pandemic exclusion clause, but these haven’t been invoked by the related insurers at this stage. If the situation changes, we’ll communicate this to affected members.

    *Plum plans insured with CommInsure

  • There are a few policies* that have a pandemic exclusion clause, but these haven’t been invoked by the related insurers at this stage. If the situation changes, we’ll communicate this to affected members.

    *Plum plans insured with CommInsure

  • If you need to make a claim then, like any other claim, it will be assessed. You’ll need to meet the terms of the insurance policy. Current available information about COVID-19 suggests that most people recover within 14 days and can return to their normal activities. If you experience permanent health issues from COVID-19, you may be eligible for a TPD benefit.

  • No, Income Protection benefit is only available if you can’t work due to illness or injury, and if you’ve met the required waiting period for your plan.

    Also, if your employment is impacted resulting in reduced hours or salary, this may impact the amount of any benefit you are eligible for in the event of a claim. Any claims will need to be assessed based on their individual circumstances but we are working with our insurers to ensure all members are treated fairly and reasonably in these unprecedented times.

    The Australian Government has announced COVID-19-related financial support for which you may be eligible. To find out more, go to www.servicesaustralia.gov.au

  • Insurance policies will continue to cover members working from home or on voluntary leave or who’ve been stood down while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. The benefit amount depends on the specific policy terms.

  • Insurers have advised they’ll continue to support claimants during this unprecedented event. They understand that obtaining medical information may be challenging and accordingly, will work with you to help progress your claim as quickly as possible.

  • Your existing insurance cover will generally continue, provided you maintain sufficient funds in your super account to pay the insurance premiums. If the benefit value of your insurance cover is linked to your super account balance, your level of cover may be adjusted in line with any withdrawals from your super.

    Please see your Insurance Guide for details in relations to the terms and conditions applicable to your plan.

Other information

  • Plum is aware of current scam phone calls targeting Australians. The caller may claim to be from an organisation that can assist you to get early access to your superannuation. The caller may ask for your personal and superannuation details.

    If you ever have any concerns as to the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call the company back on a publicly listed number.

    If you have received this type of call and have provided information about your superannuation, please contact Plum immediately on 1300 55 7586.

    If you receive a text message saying your superannuation fund is going to release your super, and you did not request this, contact us.

    If you have provided personal or banking details, please also contact your financial institution.

    You can also read our article for more information, or visit the Scamwatch website for more information about this scam.

    This information is current as at May 2020.

Important information
Interests in the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024 are issued by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633, AFSL 236465 (NULIS). Plum Super is a part of the MLC Super Fund.