UPDATED “Can I access my Superannuation for plastic surgery?” I get asked this question all the time. The short answer to this question is “yes, for a few select procedures”. However, early release of your superannuation is not straightforward. There are conditions and each case is approved on an individual case by case basis. The most likely procedures to be approved for payment through early release of your super include abdominoplasty, breast reduction, body contouring or skin reduction surgery after massive weight loss.
Under the government guidelines early release of superannuation can be considered under “Compassionate Grounds – medical treatment”. These particular types of claims are now administrated by the Department of Human Services – they were previously processed by your individual Superannuation Fund. So the decision now lies with a government body instead of the individuals running your super fund.
To quote the Department of Human Services website directly:
“You may be eligible for an early release of superannuation for medical treatment or transport expenses if:
- you or your dependant has a life threatening illness or injury, acute or chronic pain, or acute or chronic mental illness, and
- you or your dependant need assistance to meet the costs of medical treatment which is not readily available through the public health system or covered by insurance, or
- you or your dependant need assistance to meet the costs of transport to access medical treatment, and
- you do not have the financial capacity to pay for the expenses without accessing your superannuation”
So, this might relate to weight loss surgery (life threatening), or skin removal after massive weight loss where the skin is causing health issues, breast reduction where the patient has chronic pain or an abdominoplasty after pregnancy where there is muscle damage.
As well as filling out the appropriate forms and paperwork (pages and pages asking you about your financial situation among other things), you will need to provide two reports – one from a registered medical practitioner, and one from a registered medical specialist qualified in the area of medicine you are looking to have surgery. Any report you provide must be dated not more than 6 months before you submit it.
There is no “list” of surgeries that they do and don’t consider. As with so many other aspects of the Plastic Surgery industry, the growth of this trend in using superannuation to fund these types of surgeries is still outrunning the speed of the government and industry to regulate them. You might have heard reports of cases where someone used their super to fund this and that plastic surgery, but it is a definite grey area.
Each case is treated on an individual basis, but approval of early release depends on your ability to provide all necessary documentation from your doctor and specialist confirming that what you have is life-threatening or absolutely essential to your quality of life. You may also be considered if your situation is causing you chronic mental illness (serious psychological issues), but of course again, this does not apply to everyone.
For more information or to download the appropriate forms go to the Department of Human Resources website https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/medical-treatment-or-transport.