I am no longer able to work – does this mean I can claim Total and Permanent Disability (“TPD”) benefits?

Total and Permanent Disability (“TPD”) Insurance is financial protection against the situation where you become sick or injured and are consequently unable to keep working. It is provided for under most Australian superannuation funds so most working Australians will be entitled to it.

With this type of insurance, you do not need to show that someone else is at ‘fault’ in order to make a claim for benefits. Some people don’t bother pursuing TPD benefits because they wrongly believe they must prove someone was at fault for their injury or illness. This is not the case. You don’t need to show that your injury or illness was the result of your employer’s, or anyone else’s negligence, nor do you need to prove that you weren’t negligent.

TPD is usually paid as a lump sum payment. The most common grounds for TPD claims include back injuries and mental illness. Typically, you need to prove that you have been unable to carry out work for a minimum of six months before you file your TPD claim.

The key to your TPD claim will be determining whether your injury fits within your specific insurance providers’ definition of Total and Permanent Disability.

AustralianSuper (one of Australia’s largest industry superannuation funds) recently changed its policy to make it tougher for members to claim TPD payments. Access to TPD insurance is generally approved if, for any medical reason, the member is unable to continue working in a role for which they have education, training and experience. What AustralianSuper now requires for TPD claims is that the member prove that they are unable to retrain or re-skill in an alternative area despite their injury or illness. If AustralianSuper are satisfied that you can’t do your old job, but that you could retrain and enter a new industry or position, then a TPD benefit will not be payable. This significantly restricts eligibility to make a claim and there is concern that all insurance providers will begin switching this definition in an effort to pay out less TPD claims.

In any event, if you have an injury or illness that is preventing you from working, seek legal advice to determine whether you are eligible to make a TPD claim. If you would like to discuss you TPD claim, contact our offices for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers on (07) 3252 0011 or through our general enquiries page.

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