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Who can make a death benefit claim

When a someone dies, their superannuation fund must pay the deceased’s death benefit, including an insured lump sum, to the appropriate person. You could have a claim for payment if you are:

  • A beneficiary nominated by the super fund member
  • Were dependent on the deceased, such as a child
  • Were dependent of the deceased, such as a spouse
  • Were otherwise in a close personal relationship

Terminal illness claim

It is also possible for the person who holds the superannuation account to claim the benefit themselves, if they have been diagnosed as terminally ill with a prognosis of 24 months or less. 

Most superannuation funds will have death benefit insurance attached the accounts by default. This insurance is available to relieve financial hardship in already troublesome times.


Time limits for making a death benefit claim

When dealing with these matters, it's best to claim as soon as possible. Some super funds have binding nominations, which means the account holder can nominate someone directly.

If there is no nominee, or a non-binding nomination, the person managing the super fund (known as the trustee) may decide who the dependents are, divide up the super or give it to the deceased estate. 

For terminal illness, the claim timeframes are similar to TPD claims. 

Seeking expert legal advice from death benefit lawyers as soon as possible following your injury or illness is the best way to ensure your claim is successful.

Our team at Maurice Blackburn includes both experienced superannuation death benefit lawyers and wills and estates lawyers, to help you understand all of the options available to you and your loved ones. 

Compensation and benefits

The payout for death benefits usually includes the money from the superannuation fund, and the payout from the insurance policy attached to the super fund, so can vary significantly depending on how long the person has been contributing to the fund.

If you're a dependent of the person who has died, you may be able to choose the death benefit to be paid as either a lump sum or an income stream. If you are not a dependent, it will be paid as a lump sum. 

Process for making a death benefit claim

Contact us as soon as you think you have a superannuation death benefits claim. We'll work to confirm what you're entitled to so we can give you the best advice for your potential claim. 

We'll keep you informed throughout the whole process and provide you with expert advice that is easy to understand.


We will help you with all the documentation you need from your super fund or insurer.


We'll complete all the legal paperwork and submit your claim.


Your death benefit claim is assessed and your insurer makes a decision.

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

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Our Canberra office is now closed, but our team continues to serve ACT clients and are available for phone and video appointments. If you need legal advice, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.