Claiming Superannuation for Surgery
Rules set out by the ATO state that you can only have early access to your super in very limited circumstances. This comes down to two factors:
- You are in severe financial hardship, or
- You are in acute or chronic pain that requires medical treatment
Accessing Superannuation due to Severe Financial Hardship
To meet the conditions for severe financial hardship, you must have received government income support (Centrelink) payments continuously for 26 weeks. You also must be deemed ‘unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.’
A successful claim allows you to withdraw between $1,000 and $10,000 from your superannuation fund.
How to Apply
To claim a superannuation release on severe financial hardship grounds, you need to contact your super provider directly.
Should they require evidence, you will need to provide a letter from Services Australia confirming you have been receiving support payments for 26 weeks or longer.
Read about early access to your super on the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website.
Accessing your Superannuation on Compassionate Grounds
You may also be allowed to withdraw some of your superannuation on compassionate grounds. This refers to when you need money:
- for medical treatment or medical transport
- to treat a life-threatening illness or injury
- to alleviate acute or chronic pain
- to alleviate acute or chronic mental illness
How to Apply
To claim a superannuation release on compassionate grounds, you need to apply through the ATO. The Compassionate release of super form can be found in your MyGov account.
It’s important that your medical practitioners provide detailed information relating to your condition. Your GP and plastic surgeon must sign off on the exact same information.
Your claim must also include unpaid expenses, such as your surgery quote. If you have already paid these expenses, you will not be eligible for superannuation release for your surgery costs.
Using Superannuation for Cosmetic Surgery
So you’ve been considering plastic surgery for quite a while now but don’t have the funds for it? Maybe you have heard other people using Super for surgery to finance their surgeries. In this article, you will get some insight into current rules which govern superannuation and plastic surgery.
For starters, superannuation is accessible for patients who need to undergo surgery for a serious medical condition and they are unable to fund the surgery themselves. Usually, people who make successful claims to use their super for surgery include those who wish to undergo plastic surgeries for medical purposes like breast reduction, tummy tuck, breast implant removal and weight loss.
The approval and release of funds process are as per the rules managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). For the year 2020, the process differed a bit due to Covid-19 which allowed access till September of the year 2020.
What does the Australian Taxation Office focus on for granting super fund access?
Before diving into the rules, let’s get clear on the fact that early withdrawal of your Superannuation can be granted on compassionate grounds but it is a limited occurrence.
From the ATO website, the current criteria for accessing super for surgery are:
- The patient needs surgery for a chronic medical illness/condition.
- The patient has no other means to pay for surgery other than super.
- As the surgery is unpaid, the patient must apply immediately before the surgery.
- The super claim must be made for the patient himself/herself or a dependant spouse or child.
- The patient cannot get a particular surgery through the public system.
What kind of plastic surgery can I get with my super fund?
There are many medical conditions under which you can claim super release.
Here are the most common conditions associated with plastic surgery under which you can claim the super fund.
Tummy Tuck and Excess Skin Removal after Major Weight Loss
This is one of the most common types of cosmetic procedures people access super early for. In ideal cases, one should have a Medicare item number as it is your best chance to get approval for the early release of super to pay for your surgery.
Having loose skin is fairly common after losing a lot of weight. Whether a patient has lost weight due to diet and exercise or bariatric surgery, you will experience loose, hanging skin which is not only unappealing to the eye but can also result in major discomfort. The most concerns one might face is itching, skin rashes, and extreme pain.
Luckily, a tummy tuck is a solution to such worries. Patients can not only improve their look but also say goodbye to itchy, painful skin folds and better the quality of their lives dramatically.
Tummy Tuck after Pregnancy
In case of a non-post weight loss where you are experiencing discomfort, chronic pain and discomfort due to loose, hanging skin folds, you can apply for super release. Usually, the pain and discomfort are accompanied by rashes, chafing and itching skin which develops in between the folds.
Women who undergo Caesarean Section experience extreme pain afterwards and they can put an end to it their discomfort by getting rid of excess skin on their stomach. Some women also experience abdominal muscle separation during pregnancy. Your body does this to adapt to a baby and it is more common than most people assume it to be. This eventually leads to permanently torn and stretched abdominal muscles.
Some women purely wish to undergo surgery in order to get rid of the bulge for cosmetic reasons. For others, it can be much worse and cause extreme chronic pain and incontinence. It’s important to note that super will not cover surgery for purely cosmetic reasons unless you are having acute or chronic pain associated with your abdomen or lower back.
Complications Regarding Breast Implants
If you had an unpleasant experience with breast implants, you may be able to access your super fund to remove your implants. In some women, capsular contracture occurs which is a very common side effect of the surgery. In this scenario, your body will form a capsule around the implant as a reaction to the foreign object. This is fairly normal. However, in some cases, patients can experience extreme tightening around the breast area, resulting in hard, painful breasts.
It can also occur due to leakage of the implant. Whatever the reason is, you can access super early for most problems associated with breast implants.
Breast Reduction Surgeries
Women who have large breasts in proportion to the rest of their body often experience chronic back pain. They also experience redness, skin irritation and under boob chafing due to the volume of breasts. Back pain badly impacts the quality of a woman’s life. If this is the case, you may be able to access early super to fund your breast reduction.
If you have broken your nose in an accident or suffer from extreme breathing issues, you can undergo corrective rhinoplasty. Some patients are also struggling with their day to day living as a result of a botched rhinoplasty. Some of the most common issues include; extreme pain in the nose bridge, difficulty breathing as well as a constant feeling of suffocation. In all these cases, a corrective nose job, such as septoplasty, becomes essential. It can definitely improve how your nose looks but will solve other problems as well. You can definitely qualify for accessing early super for surgery if this is the case.
Note: Please be notified that in order to qualify for elective surgery using super, one must be experiencing medical conditions such as ongoing pain and discomfort. While any cosmetic surgery will certainly make you look good and feel confident, the one thing which will make you qualify for early super is a persistent medical issue.
What do I need to access my Super Fund?
Firstly, you must go through the entire process listed on the Australian Taxation Office. Prior to submitting your application to ATO office, it is advised to ask if your superfund will grant access to super under compassionate grounds. There are a few super funds that do not allow access for early withdrawal. If this is the case, you may consider transferring super to a different fund which allows early release of super for medical treatments.
A referral from your GP to support your medical condition is required for the initial consultation. After the consultation, patients will need:
- Surgery quote.
- Early release super form which will be filled by your general practitioner.
- Early release super form which will be filled by us (Gold Coast Plastic Surgery).
Note: Patients can simply access these forms by visiting the ATO’s website.
How do I submit my Application?
Once you have gathered all the information and supporting documents, you can submit your application on the ATO Section of MyGov website (At this point, you need to need to link ATO details to MyGov site). Here is the process in one look:
MyGov Site -> ATO Section -> Super -> Manage -> Compassionate Release of Super.
It is important to remember that the application process can take up to 14 days. Hence, it is advised to submit your application well prior to booking your surgery dates.
Tax implications related to Super Fund withdrawal
It’s important to realise that tax will be taken out as soon as the funds are released. Anytime, you withdraw super funds, it will be taxed as it’s counted as assessable income in that financial year. People who are less than 60 years old are taxed anywhere between 17 to 22 per cent. It is advisable to get financial advice regarding funding your surgery this way. Be notified that the money withdrawn may have an impact on your retirement income.
How to determine whether your application for early release will be approved?
Whether your application gets approved or not is dependent on a couple of factors including your financial situation. If you have applied for early release of super, make sure that your health condition meets the criteria defined for the compassionate fund release. It’s usually granted for surgeries which are necessary for medical reasons.
Moreover, it is important to realise that application approval will take anywhere between two to three weeks. Your fund provider will be responsible for the final say in whether your application gets approved for early release.
Who’s likely to get an early release?
Early release applies to plastic surgeries which are primarily related to health concerns. Some of the examples include:
- Abdominoplasty or Belt Lipectomy after weight loss
- Body Contouring after weight loss surgery or pregnancy
- Breast Reduction Surgery where breasts lead to chronic skin conditions and major back pains
- Corrective Rhinoplasty after injury or if your current nose interferes with your breathing
- Other surgeries which relieve chronic pain
Note: It’s important to realise that some super funds allow early release of superannuation while others do not. It’s always better to ask in advance.
Supercare can assist you to access your super funds
If filling in the paperwork and dealing with the ATO sounds too scary – there is a company called Supercare that will assist and advise you for a fee.
Pros and cons of accessing super early
While the idea of using super to pay for surgery seems quite appealing, it comes with certain financial consequences that everyone needs to bear. Before applying, it is wise to weigh up your options to see if it is worth it to get relief for your ongoing pain or discomfort.
Pros of Using Your Super for Surgery
Despite the consequences, withdrawing super early for the body contouring procedures can immensely improve the quality of life for certain patients.
Patients who are struggling with chronic pain, constant discomfort of chafing can get a solution to their worries. The issues commonly arise due to loose skin after dramatic weight loss and breast capsular contracture.
Getting access to superannuation will give you less pain, improved body image and confidence along with the aesthetic benefits of cosmetic surgeries.
If you get approved, you will definitely not need to bear the financial burden of cosmetic surgery which is often a necessity if you have any chronic conditions. Moreover, health insurance typically does not cover any cosmetic surgery even if you are having health consequences.
Cons of Using Your Super for Surgery
It’s a no brainer that there are financial consequences associated with the early release of super. For instance, you will lose an asset (which is protected from both bankruptcy and creditors). If you use all of your super, you will lose on insurance benefits and will have less money available for retirement. Moreover, there are tax repercussions from the ATO as well.
For further reading:
- Early Access to Super – Q Super
- Accessing Your Super – Hesta
- Accessing Your Super Early – AMP
- When Can I Access My Super – C Bus Super
- I Had Surgery to Save my Life, Now the Government is Making Me Pay For It – Kidspot
Important Information to Note
It is important to be notified that once your application from Super is approved, you need to pay all the medical and allied health professional fees before starting the treatment/surgery. This payment must be done within 24 hours from the release of the payment.
Moreover, all the services and surgeries must be carried out by the specialist and practitioner who have provided you with the supporting quote. If this is not the case, it will result in a notification made to DHA and ATO which may eventually lead to legal action.
Please be notified that all the information about making payments for your plastic cosmetic surgery with the help of early super release is for general purposes only. It goes without saying that this information is compiled without taking your personal situation, responsibilities as well as financial situation into consideration.
Before taking an action based on the provided information, carefully consider whether it is appropriate or not both in regards to personal and professional advice. The information listed is not a substitute for financial advice and may be subject to change as per the rules of ATO.
Need more information or wish to book a consultation?
Need more information about surgery? To contact our team to make an appointment with Dr Doyle, please call 07 5598 0988 or complete an enquiry form.
About Dr Mark Doyle FRACS (Plast) – Queensland Plastic Surgeon
Servicing patients in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and New South Wales NSW – Northern Rivers, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore and more.
Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing Breast, Body, Face and Nose surgery. As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures.
He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his breast, body, face and nose patients, both men and women.
Do Your Research
What to Bring to Your Plastic Surgeon Consultation
- Bring a friend or relative for support and discussion regarding your choices
- Take notes and read all provided information thoroughly
- Read about what to expect in your Initial Surgery Consultation
Book Your Plastic Surgery Consultation
- Get a Referral from your GP or specialist – this is advised but not required to book a consultation with Dr Doyle.
- Email us or call on 07 5598 0988 to arrange your consultation appointment.
- Pay your $285 Consultation Fee in advance to secure your consultation.
Please contact us to arrange to book a consultation with our Specialist Plastic Surgeon or to speak with our Patient Care Advisor.
*DISCLAIMER: All information on Gold Coast Plastic Surgery website is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Results can vary significantly and depend on individual patient circumstances. All images on this website, unless specified as real patient images, are stock images used for illustrative purposes only. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your surgeon. Book a consult for details regarding your cosmetic surgery procedure.