Superannuation Complaints Tribunal

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If you have a dispute with your superannuation fund and cannot come to a resolution it is important to be aware that the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal could provide you with a resolution.

What does the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal do?

The tribunal was established under the Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993, aiming to impartially inquire into and resolve complaints made by persons who are dissatisfied with decisions made by superannuation funds.

The complaints dealt with by the SCT include complaints about:

A belief that a death benefit was paid or may be paid to the wrong person or people;

A miscalculation of a benefit payment;

A refusal to approve a claim for a disability benefit; and

with a binding agreement or Family Court Order under family law.

Who can make a complaint?

A person who is dissatisfied with the superannuation funds Trustee’s conduct or decision and who is:

A current member or former member of a Regulated Superannuation Fund;

A person with an interest in, or who claims an entitlement to, a death benefit;

Someone acting on behalf of the persons above or of their estate, such as a family member, legal personal representative, administrator or executor.

Common complaints: Death Benefit

The most common subject of complaints to the SCT are made by people who have been disappointed by the decision of a superannuation fund relating to a death benefit. This type of complaint has comprised of up to 42% of the total complaints brought forward to the SCT in 2010-2011.


Josephine was previously married to Robert for 20 years, separating in 2007 with two dependent children, Tanya aged 15 and Christopher aged 14 years. In 2008, Robert marries Denise. In 2010, Robert, unfortunately, passes away suddenly.

The trustee of Robert’s superannuation fund decides to pay the $400,000.00 superannuation death benefit to Denise.

Josephine makes an unsuccessful complaint to the superannuation fund in an attempt to have the decision to pay Denise 100% of the superannuation death benefit reviewed so that consideration and provision can be given to Tanya and Christopher.

Josephine can then decide to take her complaint to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

Complaint process of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal:

When a complaint is received, each complaint is reviewed to make sure that it is a matter the SCT can deal with. The SCT must be satisfied the complainant has attempted to resolve the issue with the superannuation provider within the required time period. Each superannuation provider has a process to review internally the decision of its Trustees.

The SCT will notify the complainant if it cannot deal with the complaint with the reasons in writing.

If the SCT is able to deal with the complaint they will acknowledge receipt of the complaint and notify all parties involved. The SCT will then request all relevant information and copies of all documents relating to the complaint. Other people may also be asked to provide relevant information, for example, in the case of a death benefit, the SCT will normally seek to join any other person who could possibly be a beneficiary or have an interest in the matter.

Powers of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal:

Where possible, the Tribunal will try to resolve a complaint by conciliation. If conciliation is unsuccessful, a formal review of the decision/s or conduct relating to the complaint may be undertaken by a panel of Tribunal members and a determination issued.

The SCT has all the powers, obligations and discretions of the Trustee of the superannuation fund and must make a determination by either:

Affirming the decision;

Remitting the matter to which the decision relates to the Trustee for consideration in accordance with the Tribunal’s directions;

Varying the decision;

Setting aside and substituting its own decision.

Once the SCT has made a determination it becomes binding on all parties involved. Nevertheless, appeals against SCT determinations can be made to the Federal Court of Australia within 28 days, but such appeals are limited to questions of law.

Christine Vrahas has experience with matters dealing with the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and is able to assist you with your inquiry or complaint to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal through to resolution. Please call Owen Hodge Lawyers on (02) 9570 7844 to speak to her about your superannuation fund dispute.

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