Super for 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 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 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 is:
- 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.
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, is 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 if this is the case.
Note: Please be notified that in order to qualify for the 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: Patient 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.
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.
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:
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 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 purpose 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 Mark, please call 07 5598 0988 or complete an enquiry form.