Terminally ill patients will soon be able to access super earlier

Some good news this afternoon – it has been revealed that Australians with a terminal illness will face less obstacles in accessing their super from July 1.

If medical advice shows the patient has 24 months to live, a new regulation will let them access their superannuation earlier.

According to Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, this welcome change will make it easier for women with a terminal breast cancer diagnosis in particular.

The announcement, made today, will extend on current rules that allow patients with 12 months to live special circumstance access to their super.

Treasurer Frydenberg said in a statement that the change comes after a number of patient support groups, including Breast Cancer Network Australia, had made petitions to amend the regulations.

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“Under the current provision for early access to superannuation, a person with a terminal illness is required to obtain a certification from medical specialists [that] they have less than 12 months to live,” Frydenberg said.

“This has proven difficult for some people, including women with secondary breast cancer diagnosis.

“Understandably, they want access to their money as they may experience significant financial burden associated with treatment costs or want to make the most of their time with their family.

“While this is a small regulatory amendment, it will make a big difference to the lives of those affected and that is why the Government has decided to act”.

Chief executive of Breast Cancer Network of Australia Christine Nolan told News Corp she has been fighting for the rule change and said it was a breakthrough for late stage cancer sufferers.

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“Many of our members with late stage breast cancer cannot work due to their illness and are in financial crisis, struggling to meet their day to day expenses including out-of-pocket treatment costs.

“Understandably it is extremely distressing and frustrating for them to know that they have money in their super fund that they are unable to access, particularly since they know that they will not live to enjoy retirement”, she said.

Ms Nolan also said that the current system’s requirements for two specialists to verify a patient’s life expectancy caused anguish. Upsettingly, 60 per cent of women in a survey of secondary breast cancer sufferers said they had financial hardship, which is why these planned changes are a move in the right direction.

 

Tell us, do you know someone who will benefit from the ability to access their super earlier? What other circumstances should be considered for early access? 

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