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Member Update: Super Early Release changes start Monday, 20 April

From Monday 20th April, the changes to early release of super will become available and this will see a dramatic increase in requests to the fund administration teams. Please see the below to understand how this may impact you and our ability to provide you with customer support in a timely fashion.

What is happening?

We are expecting a higher than usual level of activity in relation to COVID-19 early release payments.

What are we doing?

Our technology team has been working to be able to efficiently process the COVID-19 early release payment.

We are planning for the increase in requests by increasing the cash level of the Investment Options, making it faster for us to make payments. Over the next few weeks, we will be closely monitoring the cash levels of each investment option to keep us in the best position to make payments as quickly as practicable to members who are in need.

While we have planned and are using our best efforts, we cannot guarantee the payments will be made instantly as we will be managing the demand with the need to keep your super money invested where you have chosen. We ask in advance if there are delays for your patience.

UPDATE: Government changes to Pension Minimum Payment

In relation to changes made to superannuation as part of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020, the measures impacting Superannuation Drawdowns or pension payments can now be instructed online in the member Super Tab.

A new option has been added that is “Minimum Income Stream – 50% Reduction”. This can be selected to opt for the halved pension minimum now available. This option will be available for the remainder of FY19/20 and for FY 20/21.

Changes submitted will take effect from the May Pension Payment.

To view the full changes on the platform, click here.

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How will COVID-19 affect my super investments?

COVID-19 has already caused a shock in global markets, and you may be worried about how this will affect your super account balance and other investments. To explain how things will change in response to further developments, Mercer has prepared an article looking at what could go wrong and what could go right. We will provide further Mercer articles to keep you up to date over the coming months.

Find out more here.

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Market Volatility and Your Super

Market volatility is a normal part of investing for the long-term, and it is important to remember this when it comes to your superannuation as the world navigates the implications of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Your super portfolio has been designed with market volatility a key consideration, and we attempt to manage times such as we are currently facing with diversified investment options. A well-diversified portfolio means having your super invested in a range of different types of investments, which is designed to help smooth the ups and downs that may be experienced by any one type of investment, and allow your super to keep performing over the long-term.

While it may be tempting to change your strategy to one with a lower risk profile when markets are falling, in the long-term it can make more sense to stay invested where you are. By changing to a lower risk option during a market decline, you risk selling at a time when prices are low, and missing the potential advantage of falls when markets eventually recover. It is important to keep perspective and remember that the current market falls follow a sustained period of positive returns, and the longer-term performance of your super investment options must be kept front of mind.

Governments, central banks and health organisations across the world are working to limit the impact of COVID-19 and protect and stimulate markets and economies. Philip Lowe, Governor of the RBA, has stated that once containment of COVID-19 is achieved, the Australian economy is expected to return to “an improving trend.” So while we are seeing a great deal of volatility and overall negative returns in the past month, history has shown that every economic crisis and every recession comes to an end (as seen in the chart below displaying the ASX All Ordinaries Index since 1900). We can’t predict when the coronavirus outbreak will end, but we know that like outbreaks in the past, it is highly likely that this crisis will too.

 

Market volatility

While we recommend you keep the above in mind when deciding on the positioning of your superannuation portfolio, should you decide to change your investment option, we have a range of investment options available to cater to your risk appetite.

Find out more here.

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Common questions re: COVID-19

Will coronavirus affect my insurance?

  1. Our Group and Retail Insurers to the super funds have confirmed that there are no specific exclusion clauses in place for coronavirus or pandemics that would affect the way the Insurers assess claims, nor are there any additional exclusions on the assessment of new lives to be insured under the terms of existing policies due to COVID-19.

How do I check my super account balance?

  1. Your super account balance is available to you 24/7 in the Super tab of your Secure Online Portal.
  • You can also look at recent transactions, your current insurance, death benefit nominations, run a Member Statement for the current period, or check your mail in the Report Inbox. Pension account members can also run off Centrelink statements.
  • If you have not registered for online access, it only takes a few minutes, complete our online access form available on the fund’s website or give us a call, and we will assist you to set up your access.

How do I check my investment performance?

  1. Your current investments and pooled investment option performance history is available to you 24/7 in your account in the public website online portal. You can view:
  • A summary of your account, the number of units, unit price, and value,
  • Your member summary for this financial year, and other performance reports, and
  • A fund quarterly investment performance fund update.

What are withdrawal processing times?

  1. Your withdrawal will be processed and generally paid within 3 business days of receipt of the withdrawal and any final relevant information required including unit prices for your investments.

It will be processed and paid from the super fund’s bank account to your personal bank account, however, depending on your banking arrangements, it can take up to 3 business days to reach your personal bank account.

What unit price is used for my Pooled Investment Option withdrawal?

  1. Your super account investments are unit priced daily. The unit price that will be applied to your withdrawal will be the unit price for the day or the week (where applicable) of receipt of all required documentation.

 

How do I get more information?

  • Visit your online portal account
  • Visit:  smartsavesuper.com.au
  • Email:  smartsave@onevue.com.au
  • Phone:  Member Services on 1300 654 720
  • Write: PO Box 282, Albury NSW 2640
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What should I know about early access to super and pensions?

Changes were made to superannuation as part of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020 which received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020. The two measures impacting superannuation were the Temporary Early Access to Superannuation (Early release) and Superannuation Drawdowns.

Early release of super

What are the details, how will it work?

  1. From 20 April 2020, members will be able to apply for an early release of up to $10,000 of their super. Members will also be able to apply for an additional release of $10,000 from 1 July 2020 up until 24 September 2020 when the measure ceases.
  • To be eligible, members must satisfy one or more of the following requirements at the time of the application:
    • 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:
    • Were made redundant, or
    • Had working hours reduced by 20% or more, or
    • Were a sole trader – and their business was suspended or there was a reduction in their turnover of 20% or more.
  • There is no minimum documentation/evidence required for meeting the above requirements.
  • The application can be assessed in one of two ways:
    • Member can apply through myGov at myGov.au, or
    • For those unable to access myGov, they can call the ATO on 131020, confirm their identity and complete the application over the phone.
  • Members can specify the amount they wish released, and from which super account they want the funds released from. There are no limitations on the amount from each account, only that the total amount doesn’t exceed $10,000.
  • The ATO will collect the required information, assess the application, and collect bank account details for making the payment. Approval of the application is determined by the ATO.
  • Notification of approved applications will be provided to super funds electronically, who will process the payments as soon as practicable and without the need for any further documentation.
  • Amounts paid for this early release of super will be tax free and will not affect Centrelink or Veteran’s Affairs payments.
  • The amounts will be treated as non-assessable non-exempt income, will not be counted as income and will not be considered under any income or means test.
  • Members can only apply once in each financial year, so can make two applications at most per person.
  • In addition, members who satisfy a financial hardship or compassionate condition of release can still apply for these in addition to the early release of super. The current requirements, including customer identification verification as part of the assessment and payment process still apply.
  • Full details are available in the Factsheet available at

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Early_Access_to_Super_2.pdf

Will a completed and signed withdrawal form still be required under the early release of super?

 

  • No, a withdrawal form will not be required. 

 

On receipt of the ATO determination for the member, the super fund will pay the funds to the member based on the information provided on the ATO determination, that is, the stated amount, and to the bank account (your bank account details as advised by the ATO).

When will my payment for early release from super be made?

 

  • Pooled Investment Options

 

Your super account investments are unit priced. The unit price that will be applied to the payment of your early release from super will be the unit price on your super account investments on the day of receipt of the ATO determination.

Your withdrawal will be processed when the applicable unit price for your investment becomes available, and generally paid within 3 business days of receipt of your ATO determination and any other required information.

What if I have insurance in my super?

  1. If your balance is under $20,000, and you are considering making an application to the ATO under early release of super, you should consider any insurance cover you might have, including with other super accounts. For information on how to keep track of your super, you can visit the ATO website at https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/Growing-your-super/Keeping-track-of-your-super/.

Can I still lodge a Notice of Intent to claim a deduction (NOI) if I access the temporary early release of super?

  1. The super fund will be processing the ATO determinations for member accounts temporary early release of super without checking with members whether they intend to lodge a NOI. If you wish to claim a tax deduction for a contribution to super, you should consider lodging an NOI prior to making an application to the ATO for the temporary early release of super.

Are temporary residents eligible for the early release of super payment?

 

  • The current eligibility criteria for the temporary early release of super under compassionate grounds does not apply for temporary residents. That is, to apply, and meet the eligibility criteria, the member must either be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand. 

 

Will a withdrawal form be required if I also make a withdrawal for general compassionate release of super or financial hardship claims?

  1. Yes, along with any other information required by the fund, a withdrawal form will still be required. In order to process the payment as soon as practicable, the fund will also require the following information:
  • The members’ current details such as address, contact details,
  • Tax File No (if not previously provided),
  • Original certified copies of identification documents, and
  • Payment instructions i.e. Bank account details – name, BSB, and Account details.

If I also make a general financial hardship or compassionate release of super, do I still need to provide original certified copies of identification documents?

  1. Yes. There is currently no change to existing identification requirements. The Identifications Requirements Factsheet provides further details on obtaining original certified copies of identification suitable to supply with the withdrawal form.

 

Should this change, we will provide an update for our members.

What if it is difficult to get copies of identification documents certified in this period of self-isolation?

  1. The Trustee is aware of this and understands that it will be more challenging in the current environment, however no relief has been provided other than for the early release of super.

No changes have been made to the AML/CTF Act or regulations relating to the provision of identification to enable the Trustee to provide relief from meeting this obligation for financial hardship or compassionate release of super other than for the early release of super. If relief be provided by the Government in the future, the Trustee and Administrator will implement this as soon as it can.

Superannuation Drawdowns

How will the changes to the minimum pension amounts paid from my superannuation account affect me?

  1. The changes to superannuation drawdowns starting were effective from 25th March the day after the Bill was passed by Federal Parliament, to provide support for retirees to manage market volatility. Full details are available in the Factsheet available at

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Providing_support_for_retirees_to_manage_market_volatility.pdf

What are the changes to pensions?

  1. For the remainder of the 2019/20 financial year, and for the full 2020/21 financial year, the pension payment minimum amounts (pension minimums) have been halved for:
  • Account based annuities and pensions including transition to retirement income streams,
  • Allocated annuities and pensions, and
  • Market-linked annuities and pensions also known as term allocated pensions.

What options are available for me as a pension member?

  1. Continue to draw-down at the pre-existing level. i.e. make no change to the pension amount to be paid until the end of the financial year, or
  • Amend your current drawdown instructions to the new pension minimum – noting that where you have already been paid the pension minimum, you may choose not to receive any further pension payments for the remainder of this financial year, or
  • Submit new instructions to vary your pension drawdown amounts.

If we do not receive any new instructions from you to amend your pension payments, the Trustees’ default position is for the administrator to continue to drawdown at the pre-existing level. This means the new pension minimums will be applied on an opt-in basis for the remainder of the financial year.

Do I need to provide an opt in instruction if I am being paid the minimum pension?

  1. Yes. If you wish to amend your pension payment for the remainder of the financial year, you will need to provide a new pension payment instruction. However, this request can be arranged in a number of ways including:
  • Forwarding in a letter request by email, so long as it is clear what you are asking for, e.g. reduce my pension payments for the remainder of the financial year to XXX per month, or
  • For certain digital super funds, completing an amendment to the pension payment online, or
  • Forwarding in a completed and signed pension payment request form.

Do these changes apply to Transition to Retirement Pensions (TTR)?

  1. Yes. TTR are a form of an account-based pension, and have both minimum and maximum payments to consider.