What's the difference between dependants and interdependency relationships?

Published 01 Aug 2017

Do you know what happens to your superannuation if you were to suddenly pass away? The answer isn't always simple, so it's important to educate yourself on how your accumulated funds may be distributed to your loved ones should the worst happen.

Nevertheless, your money will often go to a dependant beneficiary or someone who is classed as having been in an interdependent relationship with you prior to your death.

Understanding what these two definitions mean is important and could affect the outcome of any death benefit claims made against your super. Let's take a closer look at the differences between a 'dependant' and those in 'interdependency relationships'.

What is a dependant?

Dependants of the deceased can receive death benefits as either a lump sum payment or as an income stream. But do you know who your dependants are? Or maybe you're wondering whether you can make a claim as a dependant?

A person is classified as a dependant if, at the time of the deceased's death, they were:

  • A spouse or de-facto spouse, including same-sex partners;
  • A former spouse or de-facto spouse, also including same-sex relationships; or
  • An under-18 child of the deceased.

Any dependant can pursue a death benefits claim if they feel they should receive a share of a deceased individual's accumulated superannuation.

What is an interdependency relationship?

People who were in an interdependency relationship are still considered dependants under superannuation law, but they may not fit the above criteria.

An interdependency relationship is one where the deceased and the claimant satisfy all of the following:

  • They are in a close personal relationship;
  • They have cohabitation arrangements; and
  • They provide financial and domestic support or caring responsibilities to one another.

An example of an interdependency relationship is one where an adult child lives with a parent. The legislation was also originally intended to cover same-sex partnerships.

How do I know if I'm eligible to make a claim?

Dependants and those who are in interdependent relationships with the deceased at the time of their passing are eligible to make claims for death benefits.

However, if you are unsure whether you meet the eligibility criteria, you should contact a superannuation lawyer who can take you through the relevant laws and provide advice on pursuing a claim.

Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Superannuation Lawyers for more information on death benefits and help with other types of superannuation disputes.

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