The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has confirmed the degree to which superannuation fund members have become irritated when their superannuation funds have sought to check the validity of their claims under the Government’s hardship early release program.
AFCA has confirmed to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics that 89% of complaints it received had related to the denial of early release superannuation or delays in facilitating early release.
The issue has become such that AFCA said in some instances it has initiated weekly meetings with superannuation trustees.
“…a significant number of COVID-19 related superannuation complaints are about early release of superannuation. The most prominent theme in these complaints are service-related issues such as delays in processing customer applications,” it said.
AFCA said the matters that could lead to a delay or denial of early access included:
- The superannuation trustee challenging discrepancies in the complainant’s identification data;
- The superannuation trustee needing original documents to prove complainant identity (when the postal service is slow); and
- Superannuation trustee delays in coordinating with the ATO in relation to early release of superannuation applications.
“In response to the above, AFCA has put in place several measures including meeting on a weekly basis with superannuation trustees to discuss our approach to resolving these complaints and address any challenges they may be experiencing with dispute resolution,” it said.
AFCA said it had so far received only three income protection complaints relating to COVID-19 superannuation complaints.
“One of these relates to the denial of an income protection application by a consumer, who was made redundant as a result of COVID-19 and wishes to access his income protection as a result. The second complaint relates to delay, where the complainant is concerned her income protection cover will cease before she is able to get the surgical treatment,” it said.
“The third complaint relates to the ceasing of payments, as result of non-provision of information to the financial firm.”