Topic discussed: Do you have any complaints about your superannuation claim?

Thursday, 3rd October 2013 – 1:30pm

Turner Freeman Lawyers superannuation lawyer, Adam Tayler discussed issues around complaints with superannuation claims if a claim has been rejected in the past. Adam explained the process when an application is lodged, but refused and the steps you can take if you have any complaint. The first phase of the process is to submit your complaint with the Superannuation Complains Tribunal (SCT). The second phase in the process is the decision outcome made by the superannuation complaints tribunal.

Adam gave some insight into the SCT and it’s lack of resources and are underfunded. These numbers are available to the public from the SCT website so it is transparent and clear to see via a quarterly bulletin. This includes things like the average time it takes to resolve complaints, which Adam says currently stands at 800 days.

Adam’s Transcript:

Chris: This is an area of the law we haven’t covered this year and it is interesting that although it would be a small number of people this law would affect generally it could down the track affect a hell-of-a lot of people, that is, complaints regarding their superannuation. And tell us about firstly before we start talking about the status and they way all of this works before we talk about that tell us about the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

Adam: A Superannuation Complains Tribunal is commonwealth government body. Set up by the national scheme that runs and regulates superannuation across the country. Complaints filed by consumers against decisions made by their superfund and insurers

Adam: It is designed to effectively resolve disputes.

Chris: How often these disputes arise?

Chris: Open ended question, however we must have some figures on it.

Adam: I don’t have it in front of me but the number is huge

Adam: Tribunal is struggling at the moment from a resource point of view to deal with all of the complaints in front of them that they have received

Chris: We are taking questions from the listeners shortly.

Chris: Does tribunal track itself on how efficient they are?

Adam: Yes they do Chris. It publishes a quarterly bulletin on how it’s doing from a point of view of its time taken to resolve complaints. In its last bulletin the average time it has taken to resolve complaints was over 800 days.

Chris: What? That’s 3 years. Almost 3 years to have a complaint handled by a superannuation complaints tribunal?

Adam: It is an ongoing problem

Chris: Are they underfunded? Under resourced?

Adam: I think it is probably both Chris. I think there have been more complaints happening these days

Chris: What would be an example of a complaint?

Adam: A person who has for example has had to retire from the workforce early due to an injury or illness. If they had made a claim to access their super or to get total and permanent disability (TPD) benefits and the super fund has refused or rejected this on whatever grounds, consumer than can go to the tribunal to dispute that.

Adam: Other things include investment choices, and administrative decisions and all that as well.

Chris: Can you elect to resolve this by conciliation?

Adam: Yes they can. It’s a 2 stage process. Every complaint is conciliated so it’s like a mediation.

Adam: The second stage is an actual determination or a decision by the tribunal.

Chris: With the current delays you would think the conciliation is the only way to go.

Bob:  a listener asking a question

Bob: Part of Westpac super, and when I invested in shares and all that, and I went to cancel and put it in interest only, and they went through it with me in the bank, so they are charging me $190 every quarter for a meeting with them to work out how much I was losing or making and that was over 6 years. And when I tallied it up, I never had any meetings with the bank. And this was the first time I had a meeting. I was so disappointed I lost so much money.

Adam: The first point is that they can’t charge for something they haven’t provided to you and the second point is that they have to disclose to you any charges beforehand. Now sometimes this is done in the fine print but, none the less they still need to disclose this to you. And if they improperly charged you for services they haven’t provided to you, then you have a legitimate complaint.

Bob: And I imagine this has been happening to a lot of people

Chris: Lesson to learn is not the set and forget but to keep reviewing, and keep reviewing the things that been charged.

Chris: Don’t set and forget!

Chris: Now if have a legitimate style of complaint and you want to go to the superannuation complaints tribunal you usually need a lawyer to lodge the right documents and to take the right course.

Adam T: You don’t actually need a lawyer to do it, you can be self-represented, in this process and the tribunal will help you through the process. They can’t offer you legal advice, they are restricted in what they can do.

Adam: It’s always prudent to get some advice, before lodging.

Chris: Compensation can’t change the past, but it will make a difference to your future. So if you are suffering because of someone else’s negligence turn to Turner Freeman Lawyers.

Chris: Turner Freeman Lawyers are heavy hitters. They are the type of law firm you need on your side to win. They’ve been winning claims a long time. When a Turner Freeman Lawyer acts for you., they draw on over 500 years of combined experience.  Financial and legal resources of a national firm and reputation that is stuff, uncompromising litigators and they won’t rest until you get the compensation you deserve.

Call 1800 800 088 or visit turner

Stuart:  a listener asking a question

Stuart: I’m a self employed plumber contracted to a large company. I’m still working there at the moment for the last 26 years. I’ve been told it’s more than 80% of your income you are entitled to superannuation from that company. Is that true?

Adam: Yes the ATO has a rule of thumb which is an 80/20 rule so it comes down to whether you are an employee or not. Employers only have to pay superannuation on behalf of their employees so it comes down whether you meet that definition. The ATO has a general rule of thumb if 80% of your income is coming from one source, then that’s one part of being an employee but we would need to look at all your super circumstances.

Ken:  a listener asking a question

Ken: I got super in AMP and when the world money business collapsed I lost a little bit of my money out of my super is that what you’re talking about claiming some of it back?

Adam: The nature of super is that it is invested in some form or another and quiet often it is invested in different styles of investments. If part of your super was invested in shares and if the share market goes down, your super will go down too. And when the share market goes up, your super goes up too.

Adam: I think k it is just part of the risk you take if you have part of your superannuation invested in shares.

Ray:  a listener asking a question

Ray: I’ve got a question about a lump sum from an injury that you might claim against your superfund. Is common sure a part of a superannuation complaints tribunal or is it different?

Adam: CommInsure is part of the Commonwealth Bank and they are actually an insurance arm for the bank. They insure life policies, income protection those sorts of things.

Ray: So if something was rejected and it goes to CommInsure and it was recommended that, because you are not totally incapacitated (not in a wheel-chair) I was told it can’t go to the complaint tribunal to be reviewed. Is that correct?

Adam: Yes it is you’ve got to have that internal review first and it sounds like you have had the review and it you are not satisfied with the outcome you can proceed to the tribunal or you can enforce your rights in other ways. You can issue court proceedings, there are other ombudsmen services out there.