coronavirus

We take a look at what the coronavirus means for your super.

We understand news of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting share market falls could be concerning for you. Stock markets in both Australia and around the world continue to react to the changing situation, and many of our members have been asking us what this might mean for their super.

 

 

Early release of super for people financially impacted by coronavirus

From 1 July 2020, you can apply through myGov for early release of up to $10,000 of your super by 31 December 2020. 

 

 

Reduced minimum drawdown rates for income stream members

For the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, minimum drawdown amounts have been reduced by 50% in response to the coronavirus pandemic. See the new amounts here.

 

 

Interactive online webinars

 Join our short, sharp webinars, hosted by HESTA, to hear how the changes to super might affect you.

 

A word from our CEO Debby Blakey, and CIO Sonya Sawtell-Rickson

From 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2020, you can apply through myGov for early release of up to $10,000 from your super for the 2020/2021 financial year. 

 

Applications will be assessed by the ATO for eligibility in line with the criteria set by the government - you need to apply through myGov.

 

We recommend you seek advice before you make a decision.

 

Processing your payment safely

We understand this is a very difficult time for everyone in our community.  Please know that our staff are doing their best to support you. We expect everyone, including our staff, to be treated with courtesy and respect, and will terminate any abusive calls to our contact centre. By working together, we can support each other through this time.

You may have seen recent media coverage of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) detecting a small amount of alleged fraudulent activity related to early access to super. The ATO says this activity was stopped and those affected contacted. 

Most applications are being paid within five business days. Where this may have taken longer, it’s been to ensure we have checked data and conducted further verification to safeguard members’ super.


Call wait times and requests for printed information

Our contact centre is based in metropolitan Melbourne and is now under Stage 4 lockdown restrictions.

Please understand you may experience longer call wait times while some of our team are unable to perform their usual roles. Our ability to print and post items will also be impacted.

Please visit the Forms and Resources section of our website to download the latest HESTA forms, booklets and brochures, or email us for further help.

 

Am I eligible?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will decide who is eligible, not HESTA.

If your application is approved, the ATO will let us know.

To be eligible to apply for early release on compassionate grounds under the temporary changes, you must meet any one or more of the following requirements:

  • be unemployed; or
  • be eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
  • on or after 1 January 2020, you were made redundant; or had your working hours reduced by 20 per cent or more; or
  • you're a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

 

Can temporary residents apply?

No, temporary residents can no longer apply.  They were eligible to apply for up to a $10,000 release for the financial year 2019/20 only.

 
 
How do I apply?
  • You need to go to myGov to apply for early release of super.
  • The ATO will process your application.
  • if you withdraw all your super, your account will close and you'll lose any insurance cover you have with us.

If you're calling us at this time, our wait times are higher than normal (over 1.5 hours).

 

How long will it take for me to receive the payment?

  • Once the ATO approves payments they will let us know by the next business day.
  • Allow for 5-7 business days for processing and another 2-3 business days to receive the payment, depending on your bank.
  • Check we have your correct details via your online account (you can also update your name using the  Change of member details form).

How long will it take to receive my super payment?
 

2 business days
2-5 business days
2 business days

This information is current as at 1/7/20. While every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information, it is not guaranteed in any way.

 

Why does it take 5-7 business days to process the payment?

As ID is not needed for these payments, we need to run fraud prevention checks. These make sure super is paid safely to our members, not to anyone else.

 

How will I know if the payment has been approved?

  • We'll send you an SMS when we receive notice from the ATO and give you 24 hours to alert us if you didn't request the payment.
  • Please make sure we have your mobile number.  Check and update it in your online account  
     

What else do I need to know?

  • Remember, if you withdraw all your super, your account will close and you'll lose any insurance cover you have with us. 
  • Check your super balance in your online account before you apply. 

 

Find out more about how the changes work here.

 

Prefer to hear about this directly from the HESTA team?

Register for our early release webinar now.

 

Register now

“Our investment team and our managers are experienced at managing investments through major market events like this, and I understand it can feel hard to hold your ground and look beyond the headlines,” says HESTA Chief Investment Officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson.

 

“For members that don’t plan to retire in the next two years, it’s important to remember super is a long-term investment.

 

“While markets can fluctuate over the short term, it’s the returns generated over the long-term that really matter. Even after periods of extreme market volatility, like the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), long-term investment returns recovered well.

 

“Reacting to short-term market movements can negatively impact the long-term performance of your super. It risks locking in a temporary fall in the value of your investments and missing an eventual rebound.”

 

Before switching your investment options, it’s important to consider your investment timeframe and the potential impact of switching investments based on short term market movements.  Switching investment options during a short term market downturn can have a significant effect on your super balance over the long term. It may mean locking in losses and missing out on potential higher returns by being out of the market when it recovers.

 

Market movements since the Global Financial Crisis

COVID modelling returns graph to 30 Sep 2020

*formerly named Core Pool | ^formerly named Conservative Pool | #formerly named Cash. These figures are for illustration purposes only and do not take into account fees, insurance or contributions. Calculations are based on historical monthly returns from 29 February 2008 to 30 September 2020, switching on 31 March 2009 with a super account balance of $50,000. Cumulative returns are calculated from 31 March 2009 to 30 September 2020. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

 

Prefer to hear about this directly from the HESTA team?

Register for our market volatility webinar now

 

Register now

New temporary drawdown rates

For the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, minimum pension drawdown amounts have been reduced by 50% in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more about how we will apply the changes to your payments in the significant event notice.

See the new amounts here.

This measure will benefit retirees by giving them with more flexibility with how they manage their money.

You can change the frequency, drawdown and amount of your income stream payments in your online account or by completing the Income stream change of income payment amount and frequency form.

 

Considering changes? Advice can help

“If you have an investment timeframe of two years or less, you might want to seek advice if you plan to change how your super is invested or your investment choice,” says Josh Parisotto, Chief Advice Officer at HESTA.  

“For our members in an income stream option, the default strategy is a combination of balanced and conservative investment assets and has been designed to be lower risk than our Balanced Growth option,” says Josh.

“We provide advice about super for HESTA members, at no extra cost. However, due to the large volume of calls currently coming into our contact centre and requests to talk with an adviser, there may be a delay in our response. Please be assured we’re working hard to respond to everyone who has reached out.”

 

Prefer to hear about the  income stream drawdown rate changes directly from the HESTA team?

Register for our webinar now

 

Register now

 

 

Insurance through super and coronavirus

Your insurance through HESTA covers you for pandemics including the coronavirus.  So, if you currently have death, TPD or income protection within your HESTA super account, we’ve got you covered.

Remember, if you apply for early release of super and withdraw your whole balance, your account will close and you'll lose any insurance cover you have with us. Check your cover now in your online account.

Your insurance cover will continue for as long as you have enough money in your account to pay the insurance fees, and you are not inactive. You are considered inactive if no contributions or rollovers are received for 16 consecutive months. This means your insurance cover will stop, unless you’ve told us you want to keep it.

If your account balance reduces to zero, you’ll lose any insurance cover you have with us.

You can check how much insurance cover you have and tell us if you want to keep your cover if you become inactive in your online account.

Yes, you can. If your insurance cover ended because you didn’t have enough money in your account to pay the insurance fees, you can reinstate cover by making a contribution into your account that will cover the insurance fees. However, you must make a contribution or receive a rollover within 7 months of having a nil balance otherwise your account will be closed. Read more about when we will close an account in Other Information at hesta.com.au/forms.

The cover that is reinstated is Standard Cover: two units of Income Protection Cover and two units of Death Cover with New Events Cover restriction.

The New Events Cover restriction will apply for two years if you are under age 55 and a HESTA super member (those who joined through a Fund Employer). If you’re a HESTA Personal Super member or are aged 55 or over, New Events Cover restriction will continue unless you apply to remove it.

You can apply to remove the New Events Cover restriction through your online account. Removal of the restriction is subject to the approval of our insurer. Read Insurance Options for details.

New Events Cover means you are only covered for claims arising from a sickness which first becomes apparent, or an injury which first occurs, on or after the date cover last commenced, or was reinstated. Read more about this in Insurance Options.

Unfortunately no. Income Protection Cover protects your income when you are temporarily or permanently unable to work due to injury or illness. Changes to employment for other reasons aren’t eligible to be claimed.

Yes, you can submit a claim on your Income Protection Cover to help you through this period if your cover is current and you’re unable to work due to illness. There are no specific exclusions on your cover because of COVID-19.  

Your eligibility to claim will depend on your personal circumstances, for example, how long you have been actively employed before being diagnosed and ceasing work due to your illness.

Our insurer has confirmed there will be no impact on claims decisions due to COVID-19. You still need to meet the relevant policy terms to be eligible for the income protection benefit, including satisfying   the appropriate waiting period before any payments can commence.   

Yes. Our insurer will not assess your claim any differently if you pass away because of coronavirus. 

Our insurer has confirmed that if you lose your job, are stood down or have reduced working hours due to COVID-19, your TPD Cover will not be affected if you need to make a claim.

This aims to help our members who:

  • were working in their normal capacity on 11 March 2020 (when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared)
  • have had reduced working hours or lost their job due to COVID-19 since 11 March 2020
  • became totally and permanently disabled as a result of an illness or injury between 11 March 2020 and 27 September 2020 inclusive
  • have maintained their TPD Cover at the time they become totally and permanently disabled, and
  • lodge their completed claim form on or before 1 January 2021.

If you meet these criteria, we’ll assess your TPD claim against the disability definition that would have applied based on your working arrangements as at 11 March 2020.

 

Having the right level of insurance cover can give you and your family peace of mind about your financial future. You can apply for insurance cover at any time by completing the insurance cover application through your online account.

You will be asked questions about your past and current health and your health in relation to the coronavirus. All applications for insurance are subject to the approval of our insurer and the terms and conditions they place on the cover. The insurer may also reject your application based on your occupation, your health or your medical history.

We recognise some people may find it difficult right now to obtain proof of medical requirements.

If you have difficulty meeting our routine evidence requirements, our insurer has developed principles and guidance on how to progress the assessment of your claim without further delay. 

Our insurer provides health coaching to support you if you’ve been impacted by COVID-19. Here are some new ways our insurer AIA’s rehabilitation programs can help you when making an insurance claim.

 

CancerAid

  • To address the mental health impact caused by pandemic-related anxiety, the CancerAid Coach Program now provides all new, ongoing and past program participants with in-app and email messages from CancerAid. They provide peer-reviewed and medically reliable information from peak bodies about COVID-19, including practical tips and information from Cancer Australia.
  • This information can help patients receiving or recovering from treatment to better manage their care and reduce the risk of infection. In addition to this, CancerAid has provided a COVID-19 module to the program.

 

Mind Coach

  • AIA has developed a COVID-19 module in their Mind Coach program to help members who are feeling overwhelmed.
  • The Mind Coach program gives you your own personal health coach, who uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-based principles to help you with your recovery.
  • You can access seven weekly telehealth sessions if you’re struggling with depression and/or anxiety.
  • This program is for all members whether you have an existing claim or a new one.

 

Mentemia

  • Mentemia is a wellbeing app for everybody, every day. It’s been developed to help manage stress, anxiety, and worries we might be experiencing during these challenging times.
  • The app provides a range of tools full of practical tips and techniques to help support mental wellbeing – so you can function well and thrive.
  • AIA has provided funding to allow Mentemia to be available for free for all Australians for the next six months.
  • Download Mentemia for free from the App Store and Google Play.

 

In development – Health Coach

To support members who experience chronic lung disease as a result of COVID-19, AIA will provide seven tele-health coaching sessions delivered via exercise physiologists.

This will include education on available support, including Lung Foundation Australia resources, the importance of exercise and an exercise prescription.

We’ve been here before: market impact

“Our investment team and external investment managers are highly experienced at managing investments through a range of market conditions,” says HESTA Chief Investment Officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson.

“While it’s still too early to know the full impact of the coronavirus, our team is carefully monitoring the situation and is well prepared to both manage risk and invest in opportunities arising from changing market conditions.”

 

 

 

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