The financial impact of breast cancer

A 2014 BCNA survey of women living with secondary breast cancer found that around 60 per cent had experienced financial difficulty in the last week, and a number of women told us they had difficulty accessing their superannuation. If you are in a similar situation, there are some options that may help.

If you have insurance policies, such as income protection or life insurance, you may be able to make claims to cover your loss of income or medical expenses. Contact your insurance company to ask about the cover you have.

You may also like to check if your superannuation fund includes insurance policies. Often people don’t realise that their fund includes income protection, total and permanent disability and life insurance. To find out whether your superannuation fund includes insurance, contact your fund directly.

While normally you cannot access superannuation until you have reached a certain age, in certain circumstances you may be able to access your superannuation earlier.

From 1 July this year, people living with a terminal illness, including secondary breast cancer, can access their lump sum superannuation tax free when they have a prognosis of two years to live. (Previously the regulations required a 12 month prognosis.) Two medical specialists are required to complete forms certifying your life expectancy.

There are other ways you may be able to access your superannuation early when you have secondary breast cancer, but if you use these, you will pay tax on any payments you receive. These include severe financial hardship and compassionate grounds.

If you are considering applying to access your superannuation early, you should seek independent professional financial advice about tax you may incur, and how receiving a superannuation payment may affect other areas of your finances, such as your life insurance and any benefits you may be receiving from Centrelink.

BCNA is in the process of developing some new fact sheets to help you understand how to access any insurance and superannuation benefits you may have. We will promote them in The Inside Story and on the home page of our website when they are available.

Issue 72
Spring 2015