Superannuation is an amount on top of your salary or wages which is paid into a fund (or self-managed super fund) to be used in retirement. When this money is paid into your fund, it’s invested in a number of different ways including cash, shares and other investments. Superannuation accumulates over all the years a person is working and earning an income. The money which accumulates in your superannuation account is intended to be used when you are no longer earning an income.
Employers are required to pay at least 9.5% in superannuation, however this is due to increase to 10% in 2021 and 12% in 2025. Superannuation entitlements are usually outlined in an employment contract and if not, are covered by the Superannuation Guarantee (SG). Employees can also make voluntary contributions to their superannuation fund or make a salary sacrifice to increase their contribution.
How can I access my Superannuation?
Superannuation is intended to only be accessible upon retirement or once someone reaches the age of 65. This is so that retirees have an adequate amount of money to live on whilst easing pressure on the pension system.
There are limited circumstances in which someone can access their superannuation early. These include medical conditions, significant financial hardship and for certain home ownership schemes. Some examples of what services super lawyers can advise on and assist you with are:
- Total and permanent disability claims
- Total and temporary disablement claims
- Trauma claims
- Life insurance
- Death benefits
- Income protection
- Disability claims litigation
What is a Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF)?
A Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) is a super fund which is managed by you, and not a commercial super fund. People who administer SMSFs are trustees of the fund and subsequently have important obligations in making investment decisions. They also have strict administration duties and have to ensure that all records and tax returns are accurate and kept up to date.
What is a Superannuation Lawyer?
Super lawyers assist people who wish to make a claim within their superannuation fund because they are unable to work temporarily or permanently as a result of a disability, injury or illness. Unfortunately, the claims process is quite complicated, and sometimes insurers are unwilling to pay. It is recommended if you intend to claim the benefits you believe you are entitled to, a lawyer who specialises in superannuation should be contacted. Expert super lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to inform you about your legal rights and determine your eligibility. As experts in superannuation and disability law, super lawyers can help you claim an insurance payout.
Why do I need a Superannuation Lawyer?
Super lawyers are qualified professionals who will work closely with you on making a claim within your superannuation fund. Expert super lawyers understand the claims process can be challenging and daunting, which is why these lawyers are committed to ensuring you can access your superannuation and insurance benefits. Expert superannuation lawyers will take you through each step while explaining the law and its application to your circumstances. If your claim is rejected, super lawyers can take the claim to court.
What will a Superannuation Lawyer provide?
A superannuation lawyer has a experience with finance and understands the legislation which governs the Australian superannuation scheme. Further, a superannuation lawyer will be able to assess your circumstances and whether you are entitled to lump sum payment of your super.
How much will a Superannuation Lawyer charge?
Super lawyers, and lawyers in general, charge either a fixed amount or an hourly rate. Also, fees may be calculated based on the solicitor’s expertise, seniority, location and whether the work is urgent. Be aware you may need to pay additional expenses, such as court fees. However, some expert super lawyers conduct superannuation cases on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This means you will only be charged for work if the case is successful and damages are awarded to you.
Hourly rates and Court fees
The cost of a Super Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go court, there are additional Court fees associated with doing this, particularly as this work takes time.
What can a Super Lawyer legally charge?
Costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014.
Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.
What if I don’t agree with the costs?
You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.