Early release of superannuation benefits information for medical practitioners

Information for registered medical practitioners and registered medical specialists about early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds.

Compassionate grounds

We are responsible for determining if a customer is eligible to access superannuation early under the legislative requirements for compassionate grounds as set out in regulation 6.19A (1) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 and 4.22A of the Retirement Savings Accounts Regulations 1997.

The compassionate grounds for a customer or a dependant can include payment for medical treatment, medical transport, home of vehicle modification and palliative care for terminal illness or injury.

Customers must be unable to pay the expenses by other means, for example, using savings, and all applications require supporting evidence.

Medical treatment

A customer can apply for an early release of superannuation to pay out-of-pocket medical treatment expenses for themselves or their dependant. Medical treatment expenses can include but aren’t limited to medical procedures, medical appointments and prescription medication.

To meet the requirements, reports from two registered medical practitioners, at least one being a specialist, need to confirm:

  • the medical treatment is for an existing medical condition, which is currently:
    • a life threatening illness or injury
    • causing acute or chronic pain, or
    • an acute or chronic mental illness, and
  • the treatment is not readily available through the public health system

A customer can also apply for an early release of superannuation to pay out-of-pocket dental treatment expenses for themselves or their dependant. In this case the reports can be completed by registered medical or dental practitioners. At least one of these practitioners needs to be a specialist.

Medical practitioners must hold either general or specialist registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). A registered medical specialist needs to be a specialist in the field of the medical condition being categorised as a life threatening illness or injury, causing acute or chronic pain or an acute or chronic mental illness. Generally, it’s expected a registered medical specialist will be able to comment on the appropriateness of the treatment and the medical condition being treated.

Medical practitioners need to confirm the medical treatment is not readily available through the public health system. In practice this means a medical practitioner will be confirming:

  • medical treatment is not available in the public health system, or
  • if medical treatment is available, why medical treatment is needed before it is available in the public health system
We cannot accept reports completed by Allied Health Professionals. However, we can release superannuation for the purpose of treatment provided by an allied health professional if recommended by the customers’ medical practitioners.

Using the term life threatening illness or injury

A life threatening illness or injury is a medical condition where there is a likelihood of severe degeneration or death within 12 months.

A generic classification such as a potentially life threatening illness will not meet this requirement. There must be a clear and direct link between the medical condition and the threat to the patient’s life.

Using the terms acute and chronic

Acute refers to the rapid progress or onset of a condition suggesting urgency of treatment.

Chronic refers to a condition having indefinite duration or less rapid change. In a chronic condition pain would be felt for 3 months or more, but the condition may have been stable for some time.

Medical transport

A customer can apply for an early release of superannuation to pay for medical transport expenses for themselves or their dependant. Medical transport expenses include:

  • Hire cars
  • Taxi fares
  • Ambulance expenses
  • Domestic flights
  • International flights
  • Air ambulance
  • Public transport
  • Petrol expenses
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Buying a car where the primary use is to access medical treatment

To meet the requirements, reports from 2 registered medical practitioners, with at least one being a specialist, need to confirm:

  • the medical treatment is for an existing medical condition, which is currently:
    • a life threatening illness or injury
    • causing acute or chronic pain, or
    • an acute or chronic mental illness

In addition to this, at least one report should confirm:

  • the frequency of medical treatment
  • the location of medical treatment, and
  • how long the medical treatment is needed

Modifications to a home or vehicle

A customer can apply for an early release of superannuation to modify their home or vehicle to accommodate needs arising from a severe disability for themselves or their dependant. Modification expenses can include but are not limited to installing ramps in a home, widening doorways in a home or installing hand controls in a vehicle.

To meet the requirements a report from a registered medical practitioner needs to confirm that a modification to a home or vehicle is needed to accommodate a severe disability and the type of modification needed.

A customer can also apply for an early release of superannuation to purchase disability aids to accommodate needs arising from a severe disability for themselves or their dependant. Disability aids can include but are not limited to wheelchairs, hearing aids or dentures.

A report from a registered medical practitioner is required to confirm the need to purchase disability aids to accommodate a severe disability, and the type of disability aids required.

A customer can also apply for an early release of superannuation to purchase a modified vehicle to accommodate needs arising from a severe disability for themselves or their dependant.

A report from a registered medical practitioner is required to confirm the need to purchase a modified vehicle to accommodate a severe disability and the type of modified vehicle needed.

Using the term severe disability

A severe disability is a severe physical or mental impairment which temporarily or permanently seriously limits one or more functional capacities such as mobility, communication, or self-care, and causes substantial functional limitation in everyday activities.

Palliative care

A customer can apply for an early release of superannuation to pay for palliative care expenses for themselves or their dependant. Palliative care expenses can include but are not limited to accommodation in a hospice, employment of a palliative care nurse or prescription medication.

To meet the requirements a report from a registered medical practitioner needs to confirm that palliative care is required for the customer who is suffering from a terminal illness or injury.

Using the term terminal illness

Terminal illness is an illness or injury that is likely to result in death within 24 months.

Report for medical practitioners

Medical practitioners and medical specialists need to complete the Early Release of Superannuation Benefits on Compassionate Grounds Report by registered medical practitioner.

Early release directly from superannuation fund for terminal illness

If a customer has a terminal illness they can apply directly to their superannuation fund for a tax free early release of superannuation. We have no role in this type of process and customers should contact their superannuation fund directly.

More information

For more information about the early release of superannuation, please call us. If your patient does not speak English and needs help from us, they can call the Interpreter and Translation Services.

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Page last updated: 24 February 2017

This information was printed Tuesday 25 July 2017 from humanservices.gov.au/health-professionals/subjects/early-release-superannuation-benefits-information-medical-practitioners It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.