UniSuper’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

18 Mar 2020

In this trying time with the spread of COVID-19, we’re actively monitoring and responding to this unprecedented situation. On this page you will find information, regularly updated, relating to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on super and investments.

Our greatest priority is the health and safety of our staff, our members and their employers, and we're working to ensure we can continue to operate as smoothly as possible.



Tuesday 24 March 2020

Government announcements regarding super

On 22 March, the Federal Government proposed two temporary super initiatives in response to the economic effect of the Coronavirus.

These initiatives are:

  • allowing early access of your super, and
  • reducing minimum drawdown requirements for pension members.

Early access to your super

From mid-April, the Government proposes new rules to allow individuals in financial stress to access up to $10,000 of their super this financial year (2019-20), and a further $10,000 next financial year (2020-21).

If eligible, you won’t pay tax on the withdrawal/money and it will not affect your Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

Eligibility criteria

To apply for early release of your super, you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements set by the Government:

  • You are unemployed, or

You’re eligible to receive:

  • A job seeker payment
  • Youth allowance for jobseekers
  • Parenting payment (including 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% or more, or
  • are a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.

How to apply

You’ll likely be able to apply from mid-April 2020.

To apply, go directly to the ATO through the myGov website. You’ll need to certify you meet the above eligibility criteria.

After the ATO has processed your application, they’ll advise us to release your super payment. We’ll then make the payment directly to you.

Please don’t apply to UniSuper directly. We’re currently working on a process to ensure approved members can provide bank account details and proof of identity documents.

For more information, please refer to the Government’s fact sheet.

Reduction in minimum drawdown requirements

In a move to support retirees, the Government proposes to reduce the minimum drawdown requirements for pension payments by 50% for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.

This is available to Flexi Pension and Transition to retirement pension members if these measures proceed as outlined.

The reduction applies for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.

AGE
DEFAULT MINIMUM DRAWDOWN RATES (%)
REDUCED RATES BY 50% FOR THE 2019-20 AND 2020-21 FINANCIAL YEARS (%)
 Under 65
 4
 2
 65-74
 5
 2.5
 75-79
 6
 3
 80-84
 7
 3.5
 85-89
 9
 4.5
 90-94
 11
 5.5
 95 or older
 14
 7

We’ll write to any affected pension members about this change in the coming weeks.

How to apply

If you’ve elected to receive the minimum annual pension and you’d like to take advantage of the reduced rate, you’ll need to complete the Change of details form – pension members.

Please make it clear on your form that you’d like this change implemented before 30 June 2020.

Once completed, please send the form to pensionsmailbox@unisuper.com.au.

Changes to social security deeming rates

There have also been proposed reductions in the assets test deeming rates which may increase Centrelink entitlements for some. These changes will take effect from 1 May 2020.

For more information, please refer to the Government’s fact sheet.




Monday 23 March 2020

Financial Adviser and On-Campus Consultant appointments

Our on-campus and city offices are closed to members and the public until further notice and we're planning to replace face-to-face appointments with video and phone meetings. If you have an upcoming face-to-face appointment with a UniSuper Financial Adviser or On-Campus Consultant, they'll contact you as soon as possible to change it to a phone or video conference appointment.

If you have any questions, please call our UniSuper Advice team on 1800 823 842 or email advice@unisuper.com.au.




Wednesday 18 March 2020

Longer than usual member services wait times

We’re receiving a substantial increase in the number of enquiries. We’re working hard to respond to all calls and emails as quickly as possible and thank you for your patience if you do experience unusual delays.

You may find many of the answers you’re looking for here, or by logging in to your online account.

Alternatively, you can still contact us via the usual channels.

Pension and claims payments

All pension payments are planned to be processed as usual. Our operations team will also continue to process lump sum benefits, insurance claims and contributions. However, as a result of our modified working conditions, some processing may take a little longer than normal, and we ask you to bear with us while we do our best to deliver a quality service to you.

Investment markets and your super

Super is a long-term investment, and our expert team is used to working with fluctuating markets. At this time, as our investments team’s role is of utmost importance to our members' retirement outcomes, we’ve put additional measures in place to ensure the team can continue to function effectively, from any location, through the COVID-19 crisis.

Investment switching

If you're considering your investment options or are curious about switching, we recommend you make sure you’re aware of the investment basics of risk and return before deciding to make a switch. You’ll find more information on our Investment switching page.

If you'd like more information or help with switching your investments, contact us.

For help with choosing the right investment option for you, contact UniSuper Advice to speak to a financial adviser.

Seminar cancellations

In the interests of minimising risk to members and UniSuper staff, we’ve made the considered decision to cancel all our upcoming seminars until further notice. We’ll keep you updated as we look for alternative ways to keep you informed about your super and post further updates here.

You can access our online webcasts to take advantage of previously recorded seminars and information sessions.

Insurance through your super

Insurance through your super can provide important financial protection if you become seriously ill and are unable to work. The Death & Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance provided through our insurer TAL, doesn’t have any exclusions related to COVID-19. Therefore, the usual claims process would apply, if a claim is required.

What measures are UniSuper employees taking?

UniSuper is actively following the health and travel advice issued by the Australian Government to minimise transmission of Coronavirus as much as possible. Some of the measures include:

  • Imposing mandatory isolation periods for all employees returning from international travel and postponing all international work travel by employees until further notice.
  • Avoiding gatherings of more than 100 people in line with WHO guidance. This includes conferences, internal and external workshops, and as listed above, cancelling all education seminars until further notice.
  • Implementing stringent hygiene practices at all UniSuper offices and centres.