Who qualifies as dependent and interdependent for superannuation?

Published 25 Jan 2017

For many Australians, superannuation is one of the most valuable assets they own, so it's understandable they would want to use it to ensure their loved ones are taken care of after their death. Under Australian law, superannuation can be paid to deceased loved ones in the form of a death benefit. In order to receive the superannuation payout, the recipient usually needs to be either dependent or interdependent on the deceased. But who falls into these categories?

If your loved one has died and you feel you are entitled to the death benefit, here's what you need to know about qualifying to make an accidental death benefit claim:

Am I considered a dependent or interdependent?

As with many aspects of inheritance, the relationship between the deceased and the beneficiaries can have a significant impact on the way assets are administered, as well as the outcomes of any disputes. As a general rule, accidental death benefit claims can be made by reliant individuals with a close relationship to the deceased person. They can be identified with the following:

  • A dependent is someone who was being looked after financially by the deceased person at the time they died, and thus will be adversely affected by their death. For instance, a dependent could be the children, spouse, de facto partner, or anyone else that lives under the care of the deceased.
  • An interdependent, meanwhile, is someone that had a close relationship with the deceased, both personally and financially. They likely lived with them, providing mutual care and support at the time they died.

Why do I need to get advice from a superannuation lawyer?

Identifying dependents and interdependent is not always completely straightforward, and in some cases could make accidental death benefit claims problematic. The Australian Financial Review describes one case where a widower, who had been living with a new partner for less than a year, passed away. His new partner attempted to claim half of the death benefit for herself, rather than it being paid in full to the 10 year old daughter from the man's previous marriage. Examples like this demonstrate how complicated accidental death benefit claims can be, which is why getting independent legal advice is essential.

Whether you're a dependent or interdependent looking to make a claim or you're determining what will happen to your own superannuation after death, the help of a superannuation lawyer will be a big asset.

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