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Adviser demands answers from Media Super

A financial adviser has publicly called on the chief executive of Media Super to explain why a total and permanent disability claim for a very vulnerable client has been indefinitely delayed.

ClaimRight founder and Financial Planning Association of Australia board member William Johns wrote to Media Super acting chief executive Tony Griffin last week in a private message on LinkedIn.

His message to Griffin said one of Media Super's members, a client of Johns', was at risk of suicide after having a TPD claim through the fund (with group insurer Hannover Re) declined.

Following the declined TPD claim Johns sent a full appeal. That was in June and there has since been no correspondence from the insurer or the fund.

Johns received no reply to his private message to Griffin, so he decided to make a public post.

"I  finally sent you Tony Griffin a personal message urging you to take action because the member is so badly mentally injured she is suicidal and at risk of homelessness," Johns said in the post.

"This was a desperate plea from me to you to intervene. I labelled the message clearly. What do I get from you? Nothing. Are you too busy to care Media Super ?"

Financial Standard reached out to Griffin for comment. He said: "You can understand that the fund can't comment on the details of individual insurance claims."

"There are many factors that can determine the timeframe in which a claim is processed and subsequently paid. The fund is continuing to review the matter."

Johns, meanwhile, said he has still had no response from the fund and is only growing more worried about his client.

The client has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and lost her job with the justice system as a direct result of her PTSD.

Media Super has already granted the woman access to her roughly $80,000 in retirement savings, acknowledging her inability to work.

But, the TPD claim for $110,000 was declined on the basis that the client had demonstrated an ability to work by babysitting one of her neighbours' children.

"They're claiming that looking after a child next door is gainful employment. It's utterly false. When you're not on any income you do what you can to sustain yourself and neighbours and friends might help you out by paying you," Johns said.

"Even Centrelink acknowledges there should be times when people can make $100 here and there. We expect as a society that the system doesn't prohibit people from doing that."

Johns said his client has been a victim of crime in the past and is at risk of homelessness. Centrelink acknowledged the clients' vulnerable situation and escalated its processes to push her payments ahead - something that is very rare in Centrelink claims, given the volume the agency deals with.

"I think it's really hard to communicate what it really is like unless you have dealt with someone who is very vulnerable. You know it doesn't take much to tip them over the edge," Johns said.

"She is very vulnerable and Centrelink acknowledged that and approved her for the disability support pension. To get that pension is a much harder test than a TPD claim."

He added that the fund has already essentially admitted that the client meets the threshold of total and permanent disability by opening up her superannuation account to her under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act provisions for permanent incapacity.

Johns said he hopes the apparent administrative delays aren't a result of the pending merger between Cbus and Media Super.

"Can you imagine how many other people are suffering if the merger is impacting that? Our experience of Cbus has been good in terms of claims. I hope that if they do merge it might result in better outcomes for people who are very vulnerable," Johns said.

Read more: Media SuperCentrelinkCbusTony GriffinFinance IntegratedFinancial Planning Association of AustraliaHannover ReWilliam Johns
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