Frequently asked questions

You may have many questions concerning your complaint and the process undertaken to have it resolved. As many people have similar questions, it is advisable to check the FAQs below. If you find a similar question, click on the link to view the answer.

Annuity

An annuity is a form of pension. When a person retires they have the option of using their superannuation to purchase an annuity from a company, such as a life insurance company, which is a contract with that company to be paid a specific amount of money at regular intervals for a specific period of time.

Annuity policy

An annuity offered by a life insurance company will have an annuity policy. Other organisations such as friendly societies and some credit unions also offer annuities. For more information, see section3 of the Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993.

Approved deposit fund (ADF)

An approved deposit fund is a superannuation fund which does not accept contributions but does accept rollovers. See section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. View PDF >

Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA)

ASFA is the peak body of superannuation funds which plays a representative, research and lobby role for funds. Visit https://www.superannuation.asn.au/ for more information.

Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA)

APRA is one of the two government departments charged with the primary responsibility of supervising the superannuation system. The Tribunal is unable to deal with complaints about decisions of APRA. Phone APRA on 1300 558 849 or visit www.apra.gov.au.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

ASIC is one of the two government departments charged with the primary responsibility of supervising the superannuation system. In particular, ASIC is responsible for issues relating to information provided to members. Phone ASIC on 1300 300 630 or visit www.asic.gov.au.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

The ATO is the principal revenue collection agency of the Australian government, and it administers the major aspects of Australia's superannuation system. Phone the ATO on 13 10 20 or visit www.ato.gov.au.

Beneficiary

The beneficiary of a superannuation fund, annuity policy or RSA is the person to whom the benefit is paid. While in most cases this is the member, annuitant or RSA holder, the term is most often used when talking about the person to whom the benefit can be paid in circumstances where such a person has died. See also: dependant. See section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. View PDF >

Complainant

A complainant is the person who is making the complaint. This person must be eligible to do so, under the Complaints Act.

Complaints analyst

A complaints analyst is a member of staff of the Tribunal. They are responsible for obtaining information from the various parties to a complaint, and for conducting the Tribunal’s inquiry into the matter.

Conciliation

Conciliation is a process by which the Tribunal attempts to help the parties to a complaint resolve the complaint by mutual agreement.

Contribution

A contribution is an amount paid into a superannuation fund or an RSA for a specific member. Contributions are normally paid by the member or by the employer on behalf of the member. See Regulation 1.03 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994: ‘contributions’.

Death benefit

A death benefit is the benefit paid from a superannuation fund or an RSA when a member dies. Generally, the benefit can only be paid to one or more of the member’s dependants and/or the legal personal representative (LPR). If there are no dependants and no LPR the benefit may be paid to another person who is not a dependant, often a close relative such as a parent or sibling of the member.

Deferred annuity

A deferred annuity is an annuity where the payments will not start until some date in the future. It is usually purchased with a rollover by a person who is still working, with payments to start when the person retires.

Dependant

In relation to superannuation, a dependant is someone to whom a superannuation benefit can be paid if the member dies while their superannuation is still in a superannuation fund. A person may be a dependant if they have a particular relationship to the member (such as spouse or child) and/or they are financially dependent on the member. For more information, see section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. View PDF >

Determination

In relation to a complaint, a determination is the formal, written decision of the Tribunal after considering a complaint at a review meeting. It describes the complaint and provides the Tribunal's decision, the reasons for the decision and the orders made in connection with the decision.

Eligible termination payment (ETP)

An ETP is a lump sum payment from a superannuation fund or an RSA. Depending on the circumstances, the benefit may be able to be paid directly to the member or may be rolled over to another fund. An ETP may also be paid by an employer in respect of certain entitlements when a member ceases employment. For more information, see Subdivision AA of Division 2 of Part III of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 View PDF >

Exempt Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (EPSSS)

An EPSSS is a Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (for Government employees) that is exempt from complying with SIS, making them an EPSSS, while some are regulated Funds. The Tribunal is able to deal with complaints about some of these funds. Generally, it can deal with complaints about the funds operated by the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia. If you have a complaint about one of these funds, please contact us directly for more information, or see section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. View PDF >

Financial dependence

Financial dependence is when a person relies on another for regular financial support. Someone who is financially dependent on someone who has died may be eligible to claim some or all of a death benefit. They do not have to be totally financial dependent on the other person, but the financial dependence does have to be significant.

Legal personal representative (LPR)

An LPR is a person appointed to act on behalf of another person or their estate. In relation to superannuation, the LPR is normally the executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate. See section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. View PDF >

Life companies

Life companies are companies that offer life insurance (and other insurance and superannuation products). Examples include AMP, AXA and Colonial First State. For more information, see ‘Life Insurance Company’ in section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 View PDF >, or refer to the Life Insurance Act 1995 View PDF >

Life insurance

Life insurance provides a lump sum payment to your beneficiaries upon your death or upon diagnosis of a terminal illness. Most superannuation funds offer life insurance for their members. For more information, see ASIC's MoneySmart website.

Party

In relation to a complaint, a party is a person or company who makes or is joined to a complaint. For example, in a complaint about a superannuation benefit, the parties to the complaint will be the complainant and the trustee of the fund. If there is an insured benefit involved, the insurer may also be a party to the complaint.

Permanent incapacity

Permanent incapacity is the test used to determine if a member’s benefits can be released from a superannuation fund before the person has reached retirement age on the basis that they have effectively been forced to retire early because of a disability. It is similar to the typical definition of TPD and the two usually work together to enable a member’s benefit (often including an insured component) to be paid to them. For more information, see Regulation 6.01(2)of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 View PDF >

Regulated superannuation fund

A regulated superannuation fund is a fund which has elected (applied) to be regulated under the SIS Act. In return for agreeing to comply with the requirements of the Act, the fund receives certain tax concessions. Most superannuation funds in Australia are regulated superannuation funds. For more information, see section 19 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 View PDF >

Retirement savings account (RSA)

An RSA is a special type of superannuation product generally provided by banks. RSAs are not required to have a trustee. For more information, see section 8 of the Retirement Savings Accounts Act 1997 View PDF >

Rollover

A rollover is an amount of money in a superannuation fund or RSA which is paid (rolled over) to another superannuation fund. For more information, see Div. 6.4 and 6.4A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 View PDF >

Self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) or self managed fund (SMF)

An SMSF is a category of small superannuation fund which has fewer than five members and in which, typically, the members are all involved in the operation of the fund and no member is an employee of another member. These funds are subject to fewer restrictions than other regulated superannuation funds. The Tribunal cannot deal with complaints about such funds. For more information, see section 17A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 View PDF >

Statement of termination payment (STP)

An STP is a statement providing details about the various parts of an ETP.

Superannuation

Superannuation is the term given to savings for retirement which are held in trust by a superannuation fund. In return for favourable tax treatment, access to the benefits is usually restricted until a member retires from the workforce.

Superannuation fund

A superannuation fund is a type of trust fund designed to hold and invest members’ superannuation.

Superannuation guarantee (SG)

Superannuation guarantee is the term given to compulsory superannuation contributions made by employers on behalf of their employees. The Commonwealth Government sets the rate (currently 9.5% of earnings), and the legislation is enforced by the ATO.

Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act)

The SIS Act determines how superannuation funds operate and what they can and cannot do. The SIS Act is administered by APRA and ASIC.

Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993 (Complaints Act)

The Complaints Act is the legislation under which the Tribunal is established and operates. For more information, view the Act >

Total and permanent disablement (TPD)

Total and permanement disablement is the test commonly used by superannuation funds to determine if a person is entitled to be paid a TPD benefit, which may include an insured amount. While the definition can vary from fund to fund, and it is necessary to rely on the specific definition, it typically requires that the member is totally and permanently disabled to such an extent that they are incapable of ever again working in any occupation for which they have the relevant education, training and/or experience.

Tribunal

Tribunal is shorthand for the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

Trustee

The trustee of a superannuation fund is responsible for the operation and investment of the fund. The trustee is usually a corporation, and the trustee name may not match the fund name.