Can You Claim TPD If You’re Not Working?

18 January 2024 | Total and Permanent Disability

Yes. In fact, you can only lodge a TPD claim if a disability completely prevents you from working.

‘TPD’ stands for ‘Total and Permanent Disability’. Generally speaking, individuals are only considered totally and permanently disabled if they are (a) not working due to an injury or (b) too sick to work.

But this raises another question: How long after you’ve stopped working can you claim TPD? We’ve written before about how there is usually no time limit for lodging a TPD claim. However, the date you stopped working and how long you have been unable to work are both important considerations.

Our TPD claim lawyers can evaluate your Total and Permanent Disability entitlement if you are disabled and can’t work. Call TPD Compensation Lawyers at 03 9966 7188 today for a FREE consultation.

The Waiting Period for TPD Claims

Applicants need to be unable to work for a certain period of time before they can make a claim for TPD benefits. Most super insurers institute a waiting period of 3 months to 6 months. If you cannot resume your job after the waiting period has passed, you can lodge a TPD claim.

What Are the Minimum Work History Requirements for TPD?

In addition to satisfying the waiting period before claiming TPD, you will also need to show that you were actively employed for a certain length of time to claim a TPD entitlement. ‘Active employment’ is a term used by super insurers. It could be as little as 15 hours a week, or up to 30–35 hours per week.

The minimum work history requirement varies, but you will likely need to prove that you were actively employed for a minimum of 12 months before experiencing Total and Permanent Disability.

Read More: What Are the Most Common TPD Claims?

Super Criteria for Total and Permanent Disability

Every super insurer has a slightly different definition of ‘Total and Permanent Disability’. Proving that you can’t work is key, but you will also need to satisfy the insurance company’s criteria for TPD:

Any Occupation Cover

The majority of insurance companies only consider a disability total and permanent if it prevents you from doing any work for which you are qualified (known as ‘any occupation’ cover). If the insurer has reason to believe that you are capable of performing an occupation other than your current job, your TPD claim will likely be rejected.

Read More: What to Do If Your TPD Claim Is Rejected

Own Occupation Cover

Some insurers define Total and Permanent Disability solely in the context of your ‘own occupation’. The less restrictive ‘own occupation’ cover will pay the TPD benefit if you can’t do your current job as a result of the disability—even if you may be able to do a different job.

What If I Wasn’t Working When I Became Disabled?

Not everyone is employed when a Total and Permanent Disability strikes. Perhaps you are a part-time worker, a homemaker, or a student.

If you have superannuation insurance cover, you may still have a TPD claim in this situation. However, you may need to prove disability according to a much more restrictive policy known as ‘activities of daily living’ (ADL).

Read More: What Is TPD ‘Activities of Daily Living’?

Rather than proving that your disability prevents you from doing your job or any job, you will need to show that you can’t perform daily activities such as getting out of bed, feeding yourself, walking, caring for your personal hygiene, etc. This is a difficult standard to meet, so it is of the utmost importance to speak with a specialist lawyer as soon as possible.

Can I Get TPD If I Leave My Job?

Nearly 70% of Australians have a super fund—most through an employer. Total and Permanent Disability insurance is automatically included in most super funds. While this is highly advantageous for Aussie workers, it raises a troubling question: If I leave my job, will I lose my TPD cover?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for individuals who become disabled to have to leave their jobs. This may be the result of being too sick to work or being unable to perform their normal duties.

When evaluating your entitlement to the TPD benefit, super insurers are most interested in the Date of Disablement. This is not the date you apply for TPD. Rather, the super insurer will define the Date of Disablement as either:

  • The date you are no longer able to work, medically, due to an illness or injury.
  • The date you ceased working as a result of the disability.

Accurately identifying the Date of Disablement is crucial for maximising your TPD entitlement. The date assigned by the insurer may impact multiple aspects of your claim.

TPD Insurance Cover

By law, super insurance is cancelled if no contributions are made for 16 months. It is crucial to make sure your TPD insurance was active at the Date of Disablement—especially if you have been out of work for some time and you (or your employer) have not been making super contributions.

How Total and Permanent Disability Is Assessed

Your work capacity at the Date of Disablement can affect what threshold the insurer applies when determining Total and Permanent Disability. The date may be fixed at a point when you’re not considered ‘actively employed’, in which case the insurer may apply a less favourable standard (i.e., ADL instead of ‘any occupation’ or ‘own occupation’).

The Amount Available

How much money is in your super fund can vary with time. Knowing how much is in super at the Date of Disablement can help you understand the value of a TPD payout.

Get Expert Assistance with Your TPD Claim

Being unable to work due to disability can lead to a number of challenges, not the least of which is lack of income. Total and Permanent Disability insurance can provide you with much-needed financial support, but obtaining the compensation you deserve is not easy.

At TPD Compensation Lawyers, our goal is to help you navigate the process of lodging a TPD claim. Our knowledge of TPD insurance enables us to represent you effectively in all aspects—from the initial application to resolving any disputes to ensuring that you receive the full benefit you deserve.

Contact TPD Compensation Lawyers today for a complimentary consultation. Our lawyers handle TPD claims for all Victorians from our office in Melbourne, VIC.