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Chronic Illness and unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic

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It is believed that just under half of the Australian population will suffer from a chronic condition during their lives, and for many people, the ailments associated with chronic illness, which can be physically and psychologically debilitating, have compounded during the pandemic.

Chronic illness can cause those who experience it to struggle to maintain consistent or enduring periods of employment or return to work after a bout of bad health, particularly in a climate of economic instability where jobs are scarce, and the market is saturated with candidates.

So, what are your options if you are experiencing chronic illness, are unable to work and your position has recently been terminated?

Total and Permanent Disability Insurance

If you have been made redundant because of COVID-19’s impact on your employer and your health is not good enough for you to return to work, you may be entitled to total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance through your superannuation account.

What is TPD insurance?

Total and permanent disability insurance is a type of cover designed to provide an income for people who cannot work due to a medical reason. TPD insurance is usually offered through superannuation funds.

It is not commonly known that many people living with chronic illness are able to access TPD insurance if they stop working and insurers will often tell people with chronic conditions that they are not eligible, however, that is not always the case.

How do I access TPD insurance?

Getting a payout from your super fund can be complicated, as is the case with many types of insurance, but if you were not afflicted with your chronic illness when you first opened the superannuation account that the insurance is connected to, then you should make a claim.

If you have already started the process and attempted to make a claim but it was denied by your superannuation fund, you should seek the help of a legal professional. A lawyer who is experienced in this area will be able to assess your claim and help you understand why it was rejected initially.

Will TPD insurance always be connected to my super?

In order for TPD insurance to remain current, you should ensure that you have enough funds to cover the premiums that will automatically be deducted from your super balance. This is important to know as many people accessed their superannuation through the Government's COVID-19 early access program and their balances may be significantly lower than they realised.

The insurance cover can also cease if your account becomes inactive due to contributions not being made. This is easy to forget about once you finish working, as your employer will no longer be making contributions on your behalf. It is, therefore, important to ensure you either continue to make contributions or make a TPD insurance claim as soon as possible after you stop working so the insurance cover does not stop.

What conditions does TPD insurance cover?

TPD insurance payouts cover a range of mental and physical health conditions, including cancer, autoimmune conditions, dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and mental health conditions.

Can I get help to make a TPD insurance claim?

A worker's compensation lawyer can assist you in making your TPD insurance claim as they are experienced in dealing with insurers and understand what should be included in a claim for the best chance of success.

If you are considering making a TPD insurance claim you should seek professional legal advice as soon as you have received a diagnosis or when you stop working, whichever is the earlier of the two. For assistance or more information speak to our knowledgable Compensation lawyers on (07) 40520700.

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