Laws proposed to slash superannuation access red tape

Handing tax office power to rule on early access to super ‘will cut red tape’.

Super red tape to be slashed

Draft regulations designed to cut through red tape around accessing superannuation on compassionate grounds were this week released for consultation by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer.

In early February, legislation was introduced to transfer responsibility for approving early access to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), away from the Department of Human Services.

“The regulations require the ATO to directly notify a member’s superannuation trustee when it has authorised the early release of funds, removing the need for that trustee to independently confirm the amount authorised for release,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

“At what are often times of great stress and concern for the individuals involved, these changes will cut the administrative burden for superannuation trustees and will help successful applicants receive their authorised funds sooner.”

Yesterday, Ms O’Dwyer said on Adelaide radio station FiveAA that she also wanted to look at whether people with disabilities who rented should be eligible to access super in order to modify their homes. Currently, only home owners have early access for this purpose.

While a review of the rules for early release has been welcomed by the sector, the move also comes at a time when medical professionals are criticising the increased use of super for non-urgent surgeries, such as weight-loss procedures.

Other groups are calling for eligibility to access super to be widened to include spouses who are victims of domestic abuse.

Australian Superannuation Funds Association (ASFA) policy director Fiona Galbraith recently said that the ability to leave a situation of domestic violence “can be literally a matter of life or death”.

“Often physical violence is accompanied by financial abuse, ranging from the abusive partner gradually acquiring access to and assuming control over bank accounts and other financial transactions, through to threatening behaviour such as forbidding the partner from working or monitoring and controlling their spending,” Ms Galbraith said.

“Access to financial resources is critically important to enable people experiencing family violence to remove themselves from harmful situations.”

ASFA said that because of problematic issues with the social security system, rising rents and bonds, “it may be appropriate that members experiencing domestic violence should be able to gain early access to some of their superannuation”.

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees also told YourLifeChoices it supported the review of early access rules in part because it would cut the administration burden for funds.

Submissions must be made by 23 March to the latest draft regulations, which are available on the Treasury website.

Treasury said the regulations are unrelated to the ongoing review of the early release of superannuation benefits, which is also considering whether funds from perpetrators of crimes should be tapped to compensate their victims. 

“The superannuation system has come a long way since then. It is time to review the current arrangements as they relate to severe financial hardship and compassionate grounds to ensure they remain fit for purpose,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

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    COMMENTS

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    Old Geezer
    23rd Feb 2018
    11:18am
    About time something was done to fix this problem. People should not have to change super funds so they can access their money. Some funds are currently refusing to release money on compassionate grounds people have to find a fund that does and transfer their money into it so they can access it. It is just another unfair burden for someone already suffering to have to waste time not to mention the stress involved.
    Rae
    23rd Feb 2018
    12:02pm
    Yes in genuine cases of severe distress people should be allowed to access savings and also receive financial assistance.
    I'd like to hope that money management advice and education was also offered.
    jonboy
    23rd Feb 2018
    12:27pm
    Funny but I wouldnt consider weight loss surgery a luxury as no good having money if you die from being obese!!
    Jeanette
    23rd Feb 2018
    1:29pm
    I’ve had the most awful experience with my husband passing suddenly last December. Trying to access his super has been a red tape parade. Even though I was nominated as 100% beneficiary through the binding nomination form (which was current); my son still received paperwork which entitled him to make a claim. How is this possible or fair? As I expected, he did not want to make a claim. It has now been over 3 months and still no funds.....
    don
    23rd Feb 2018
    1:50pm
    Jeanette, a friend of mine , when his wife died had the same problem , where his children could also make a claim. They did not , even though all the money supposedly was left to him. If they had made a claim he would have been in the dirty dark stuff and not be able to live on his super. So much for wills.

    23rd Feb 2018
    3:17pm
    Good to see this government doing so much to help genuine hardship while at the same time stopping the rorters
    That’s good governance
    cupoftea
    23rd Feb 2018
    8:53pm
    If this government is going to do any thing with super its for there gain they just don't tell the truth look at the last 10 days before xmas in the senate when they were attacking the industry super,workers having money never heard of it
    Anonymous
    24th Feb 2018
    6:57pm
    So you don’t believe people should be allowed to acces their super on compassionate grounds then
    Is that what labor is proposing - no compassionate access to super ?