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Retirement Planning Q&A- Disability & other benefits from a Superannuation Fund

Q: “I would like to advise my friend whose husband has become disabled on account of a motor vehicle accident recently.  Based on what the doctors have said, he's unlikely to be able to return to the job he had for the last 23 years as a senior factory worker. My friend says he has been contributing to an Approved Superannuation Fund all the time he has worked with the company. He is now 55 years old. Should he be able to access any of that money now and is there any other benefit that he might be entitled to?”


Ans: Firstly, I would like to commend you for the interest you are taking in ensuring that your friend is aware of what is due to her husband as a result of his disability retirement. His situation isn’t uncommon but our response shouldn’t be seen, as a “one size fits all” remedy, since your question does not provide all the facts to provide a comprehensive response.  Therefore, the following information is to be taken as a guide to get your friend started with locating income to meet daily expenses as a result of her husband’s disability.

     The first place to start to look for income from the following: NIS, NHT and employment-related approved retirement savings in the form of Approved Superannuation Funds (ASF) and Approved Retirement Scheme (ARS) for any private sector employment and any benefits payable if he worked in the public sector.  From your question, it appears he worked in a private sector company for 23 years and was a contributor to an ASF.  To qualify for disability benefits from any of these sources, he will need to submit to them medical evidence, that is a report from his doctor.  This will be analyzed to determine whether he is partially disabled or fully disabled.  In all these plans, you will find that benefits are only payable as a result of being fully disabled i.e. he is unable to be gainfully employed either in his own occupation or any other occupation.  The next source he should consider is benefits from a life insurance policy: this may be in the form of Disability Waiver of premium which would have been added as a rider to the policy or a policy which is based on Disability Income benefit.

 The NIS disability benefits are a great source of steady income while the NHT will provide a lump sum refund of contributions.  It is advisable that he requests an involuntary termination letter from his employer showing the NIS/NHT contributions made during his tenure.  These letters are then submitted to the two agencies along with the necessary form and documentation. The NIS provides a disability benefit that will be paid once the contributor has been permanently incapacitated for a period not less than 26 weeks before the date of the application. The NHT gives a special contribution refund for invalidity pensioners once they have been certified as such by the NIS as retirees. More information can be found on their respective websites or by contacting them directly.

 Since we are focusing on the benefits that are available, ‘benefits’ isn’t only about monetary or tangible things but there are also non-tangible advantages such as access to health-related benefits. These include assistance with doctor visits, medical treatments, filling prescriptions or any diagnostic checks. If your friend is a beneficiary/member of NHF, GOJ Health card, NI Gold and when he reaches 65 years, JADEP, he will be able to utilize them for the aforementioned services.

 Life Insurance acts as another source of disability benefits once there is a disability rider included in the policy.

 In light of your friend’s husband’s circumstance, it is in his best interest to consider using the benefit from the NIS, NHT, ASF and life insurance policies to contribute to his day-to-day expenses instead of using his own personal funds.  This approach may be more beneficial for him since his survivors and/or beneficiaries can take care of the necessary expenses in the event of his demise.  This further emphasizes that Milestone’s definition of retirement is not only about age but disability and death. Your friend’s situation validates this even further as retirement benefits are a guaranteed lifetime income due at the occurrence of any of the aforementioned life events.

 We hope that your friend has created a retirement and financial lifestyle plan so that he can live comfortably while maximizing his retirement income to achieve his desired retirement lifestyle.  It is also a great time for him to take up the opportunity to create his Will and have it properly executed: this all part of retirement financial and lifestyle planning.

 Disclaimer: The information stated above to answer your question is not a guarantee that your friend will achieve his desired disability retirement income. More information is required to provide a robust response for his personal and family situation.  Readers who are seeking a comprehensive retirement financial and lifestyle advice should do so from a Financial Services Commission (FSC) licensed and qualified advisor who specializes in retirement financial and lifestyle planning.

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