Total and Permanent Disability or TPD insurance benefit is coverage provided by many superannuation funds. If you have an active superannuation policy it will most likely have some level of Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) cover. This cover is in place to protect you in case you suffer an injury or illness that prevents you from working. If this cover is provided under your superannuation this insurance cover is a benefit additional to the contributions that you and/or your employer have made to your superannuation fund during the period of your membership.

 Your policy may also include Income Protection (IP). You can qualify for IP monthly payments of up to 75% of your normal income for a period of up to 2 years. 


Claiming total and permanent disability (TPD) or income protection (IP) can be complex so you should get help from a lawyer with experience in superannuation law. 


A permanent injury or illness can make it difficult or impossible to return work. 


TPD insurance can provide a financial safety net to help support you and your family, and pay for medical and rehabilitation costs. TPD coverage generally provides financial benefits to if you are no longer able to work in your usual occupation or any other occupation you are reasonably suited to due to mental or physical disability or ill health. It may be defined as either

TPD insurance pays a lump sum and each insurer has a different definition of what it means to be totally and permanently disabled. It can cover you for either:

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For those who are very seriously injured, or who were not working at the time of disability, other definitions can also be relevant. In these cases a definition is usually based around not being able to perform personal care or the activities of daily living such as feeding, walking, dressing and showering. You just need to show that the injury or illness is significant and has affected your ability to earn an income, or has seriously impeded your ability to engage in your daily activities.

For instance if having a bad back stops you from working in your normal labouring job, you can usually make a TPD claim regardless of whether your doctor says you might be fit for another kind of employment like office work.


Eligibility for a TPD lump sum payment requires proof that you are, and will be permanently, unable to work in your usual profession. To qualify for TPD benefits, you will need to show that your injury or illness has stopped you working, and that you are unable to continue working in your usual job and any other occupation that fits your skills, training or education.

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Level of disability – Before making a TPD claim, it is likely you will have to show you are suffering a minimum level of disability. This often considers your ability to return to your previous role, or to work at all.


Your super fund – Your ability to lodge a TPD insurance claim will depend on whether cover is included in your superannuation policy. If unsure, get in touch with your super fund or a member of Shine’s Superannuation and Disability Insurance team for more information.


Waiting periods – Before lodging a claim, most policies will require a waiting period after the date you sustained injury. This allows for all injuries and symptoms to stabilise so the full extent of damage can be determined.


Employment history – Some policies require you to satisfy a minimum level of employment before you are eligible to seek a total and permanent disability payout. This is generally in  the form of total length of employment or number of weekly work-hours.

What TPD insurance covers


A lump sum amount if you sum if you become totally and permanently disabled because of illness or injury that prevent you from working (in your normal profession) and are found to be totally and permanently disabled (TPD)

Loss of earnings due to health issues (sickness or physical incapacitation) that prevent you from working (in your normal profession) for an extended period of time (Income Protection) Benefits paid to a nominated beneficiary upon death of the policy holder you will need to provide