Adam Tayler Superannuation lawyer answering Q&A
C – Chris/AT –Adam Tayler/C1, C2, C3, C4 – Callers
C – Alright from Turner Freeman and of course the Turner Freeman company are our sponsors on our Legal Matters segment and they provide all our experts, each and every Thursday afternoon and Adam Tayler is on the line from Turner Freeman, and it’s a very good afternoon to him. Hi Adam.
AT – Good afternoon Chris, how are you?
C – I’m very very well, this is an area of the law that we haven’t covered this year and it’s interesting in that, although there would be a small number of people that this affects. It could down the track affect a whole lot of people, that is complaints regarding your superannuation. And tell us about, firstly before we talk about the status of the way all of this works, before we talk about that tell us about the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. It’s a Commonwealth Government body is it?
AT – Yes Chris, the tribunal was set up by the national scheme that runs and regulates superannuation across the country. The tribunal is there to field complaints from consumers against decisions made by, um superannuation funds and their insurers, um and it’s designed to effectively resolve disputes.
C – And how often do these disputes arise? Now I know that’s a big wide spread open ended question, but we must have some idea of the numbers of complaints that the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal receive.
AT – I don’t have the number in front of me Chris, but it’s huge.
C – It’s huge is it
AT – It is, the tribunal is struggling at the moment from a resources point of view to deal with all of the complaints that it’s received.
C – Right, so it’s struggling. Um if you’ve got a question about your superannuation in terms of a complaint that you think you should lodge, or maybe a complaint you’ve waited to have handled which is the big problem at the moment. You can call Adam right away, but do it right away 131873. So does the tribunal itself track how efficient they are?
AT – It does Chris. The tribunal publishes quarterly bulletins which track how it’s doing from the point of view it’s time taken to resolve complaints. In its last bulletin the average time taken to resolve a complaint was over 800 days
C – What? That’s almost 3 years.
AT – That’s right Chris.
C – Almost 3 years to have a complaint handled by the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.
AT – That’s right and it’s an ongoing problem and it’s been a problem for a while.
C – What are they under funded or under resourced?
AT – I think it’s probably both Chris. I think they’re under funded, I think they’re under resourced and I think also there’s more complaints happening these days.
C – Give us a typical example of a complaint then.
AT – So, a person who for example has had to retire from the work force early because of an injury or illness. If they’ve made a claim to access their super or to get total and permanent disablement benefits and the fund has refused that or rejected that on whatever grounds. The consumer can then go to the tribunal and dispute that.
C – Right.
AT – Other things include investment choices and administrative decisions and all that as well.
C – Alright. Erm can you elect to resolve this by conciliation?
AT – Yes you can. It’s effectively a 2 stage process. The first stage every complaint is conciliated. So that’s like a mediation. The second stage is an actual determination or a decision by the tribunal.
C – Gee, with the current, you know, delays in a decision on complaints you’d think that conciliation was the only way to go. But anyway we’ll get to some questions right away. Bob on line 5 you’ve got a question for Adam go right ahead.
C1 – I’ve got Westpac super and when I, I was invested in some shares and all that. And I went to cancel and they’d put it into interest only and they went through it, are you there?
AT – Yes
C – Yeah we’re listening.
C1 – I didn’t know if you’d heard me. When they went through it with me at the bank they were charging me $190 every quarter for like a meeting I have with them to work out what you, how much you’re making and how much you’re losing all the time. And that was over 6 years. And it all tallies up and I said to the girl that we never had any face to face meetings. We’ve been with Westpac for 6 years and we’ve never done a thing with it and this is the first time we’ve had a meeting, because I was so disappointed I lost so much money so I just put it in an interest only in the bank and she just shrugged her shoulders and said that’s the last bill that’s been charged on that. And it was just swept under the carpet. Now 6 years with that amount of money, on two lots, mine and my wife and they were both charged this money and they just shrugged their shoulders. Now that girl that was working for us, was working against us. You know? So she was charging us for face to face meetings but we never got a face meeting.
AT – Well I think the first point to make is that they can’t charge you for something they haven’t provided to you. And the second point is they have to disclose any charges to you before they’re incurred. Now, sometimes that’s done in the fine print, but nonetheless they still need to disclose that to you and I think that if they’ve improperly charged you for services they haven’t provided you’ve got a legitimate complaint.
C1 – Yeah, and that’s what I mean. I imagine that it’s been happening to a lot of people. That was two policies, mine and my wife’s and we never ever spoke to them because we just knew, you just leave it there like most people and that’s it invested and it’ll compound. After 6 years we had an AMP and that was a catch but we just wanted a super policy with AMP. We invested our money, I was self employed and it was acting as an insurance policy.
AT – I think the lesson to learn Bob is to not just to sit and forget but to keep reviewing things and review the fees that are being charged.
C – Don’t sit and forget, you’re quite right there. So someone like Bob, if he had a legitimate style of complaint maybe something a little different to the one that he had, but if he has a complaint and he wanted to go to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal you usually need a lawyer to lodge the right documents and take the right course.
AT – 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 it. But they can’t offer you legal advice. They are restricted in what they can do, so I think it’s always prudent to get some advice before lodging.
C – Okay, good on you. Thank you, stay there Adam we’ve got other calls and I’ll get to those in just a second, but compensation can’t change the past, but it will make a difference to your future. So if you’re suffering because of someone else’s negligence turn to Turner Freeman Lawyers. Turner Freeman Lawyers are heavy hitters, and the type of law firm you need on your side to win. And they’ve been winning claims for a long time. When a Turner Freeman Lawyer acts for you they draw on over 500 years of combined experience, the financial and legal resources of a national firm and a reputation as tough, uncompromising litigators who won’t rest until you get the compensation you deserve. Call 1800 800 088 or visit TurnerFreeman.com.au Turner Freeman Lawyers when you need to win your case. Hayley in Greystones says Craig thank you very much for the information. Our Legal Matters segment right now with Adam Tayler from Turner Freeman, our sponsors of the segment. We’ve got a question here from Stewart. Stewart Adam’s listening go ahead.
C2 – Yes g’day guys how you’s going?
C – Well.
AT – Hi Stewart well thank you.
C2 – That’s good. I am a self employed plumber, I contract to a large company, I’m still working there at the moment, for the last 26 years. I’ve been told that if it’s more than 80% of your income then your entitled to get superannuation from that company, is that true or?
AT – Yes Stewart the tax office has a rule of thumb which is an 80/20 rule so it comes down to whether you’re found to be an employee or not. Employers only have to pay superannuation on behalf of employees. So it comes down the whether you meet that definition. The tax office has that general rule of thumb of if 80% of your income is coming from one source then that one part of being an employee, but it’s not determinative. You need to look at all of your circumstances.
C2 – Yeah okay, alright fair enough.
C – Good on you Stewart, thank you. Ken in the Gong you’ve got a question for Adam Ken.
C3 – Yeah thanks mate. Now look I was, I’ve got super in AMP and when the money business collapsed I seemed to have lost a little bit of money out of me super, is that what your talking about, if you can claim back, see if you can get some back?
AT – Well Ken the nature of superannuation is that it’s usually invested in some form or another. Quite often it’s invested across a range of different style of investments. If your, part of your super was invested in shares then when the share market goes down then your super goes down, and when the share market goes up your super goes up. So that’s the nature of the investment.
C – It’s buyers beware basically.
AT – Pretty much yeah.
C3 – Well the thing is I found out after that they were investing in all those banks in America that collapsed. And I lost, I think close on $30,000 and I only had a miserable amount of 100,000.
C – Well you’re not alone Ken. You’re not alone. Adam I would have thought though that the people at the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal would probably laugh you out of the tribunal if you came up with a complaint related to what you lost during the GFC.
AT – Look I think that’s just part of the risk that you take in having part of your superannuation invested in shares.
C – Ray, go ahead Adam is listening.
C4 – Yeah hi Chris and Adam, I’ve got a question from lump sum from an injury for example that you might claim against your super fund. I’m just wondering, is Comminsure the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal or is it something different?
AT – No that’s different. Comminsure is part of the Commonwealth Bank and they’re actually an insurer for the bank. So they insure life policies, income protection all those sorts of things.
C4 – So if something was rejected and it had gone to Comminsure which is what you just said, is part of the, probably guaranteeing the insurer, the employer which was the, I guess was Suncorp. And the reason they said was, well you know you’re not totally incapacitated. You’re not in a wheelchair. And do I was told there was some complaints tribunal that I could go to and have this sort of reviewed. Is that correct?
AT – Yes it is. You’ve got to have that internal review happen first. So it sounds a though you’ve gone through that process. And if you’re still not satisfied with the outcome you can then proceed to the tribunal. Or you can enforce your rights in other ways. You can issue court proceedings and there are other ombudsman services out there as well that you can access.
C – Okay, I’ve got to run. We’re out of time but thank you very much to all the callers and thank you Adam. Thank you very much for answering those questions.
AT – My pleasure.
C – Adam Tayler from Turner Freeman. Turner Freeman our sponsors of our Legal Matters segment this afternoon.