We have worked with incarcerated people in prisons across most states of Australia to claim income protection and TPD insurance benefits. When the claims are successful, the additional money can make a huge difference. It can be used to support loved ones, clear debt or help make things easier when you are released by taking care of necessities like food, housing etc.
Potential issues with TPD and income protection claims for incarcerated people (and how we solve them)
Communication can be difficult with claimants in prison
If you are in prison and engage us, there are a few issues that can arise. Obviously, the claims are complicated because we are not able to get good or regular contact with you. We have found that the best way to get around communication issues is to work with a spouse, partner or other family member who is not in prison.
We have found that working with someone who has Power of Attorney over your affairs is a really good way to make sure your TPD or other injury insurance claim is successful despite you being in prison. This is because if someone is nominated as your Power of Attorney, they can authorise us to make requests for information with Medicare, the ATO, former employers, doctors and the super fund/insurer, all of which are critical to the success of your claim.
Access to a prisoner’s doctor can be more complicated
To be successful with a TPD or income protection claim, we will almost always need the support of your treating doctors. In many ways, they are the most important part of your claim.
This can be a serious obstacle to successfully claiming for people who are in prison. This is not because the person is not unwell but because access to medical treatment is not always readily available when you are in prison or because the doctors and other healthcare professionals that you are consulting are not willing (or permitted) to provide documents in support of your TPD claim.
We can usually get around this issue by working with doctors that you were consulting before you became incarcerated. If you have someone ‘on the outside’ whom we can liaise with, this can help us a lot when working with the doctors.
The hurdle of “work incapacity” due to illness or injury
Most disability insurance claims require that you cease work due to illness or injury. For this reason, we have had some trouble claiming benefits for people who are in prison and who ceased work due to the relevant offending or incarceration.
In such cases, you will need to prove that your cessation from work is also due to illness or injury and also have the support of your treating doctors for this point too.
Links between offending & illness/injury
There are laws in each state that a person is not able to profit from a crime.
Therefore, if you have ceased work due to an injury sustained as a result of illegal activities (e.g. you suffered injuries when drink driving), it is usually not possible to claim an insurance benefit like TPD or income protection.
TPD success stories for incarcerated people
TPD win in 2020 after ceasing work in 2007
Jimmy ceased work in November 2007 and suffers from mental health issues (schizophrenia). Due to the nature of his illness, his work prior to 2007 was sporadic, and he had also completed some brief attempts to return to work after 2007.
We were able to get a doctor who treated Jimmy around seven years ago to complete a medical claim form (sometimes called a MAS), even though he had not consulted with Jimmy for several years. Using this medical form and claim forms completed by the client, we lodged a TPD claim with a large industry super fund on 18 November 2019.
The claim was accepted in March 2020 with a benefit of $50,000.
Claims many years after ceasing work are often more complicated but not impossible. You can read more about this in our earlier blog, “I stopped work five years ago due to illness. Can I still make a Super TPD claim?”
TPD win for mental illness
Lenny is an incarcerated client who worked as a roof tiler before ceasing work in 2012 due to mental health issue. He came to us recently whilst he was in prison, and we helped him to successfully claim a $104,000 TPD benefit.
We had a lot of help on Lenny’s claim from his mum, who held Power of Attorney for him. His GP was very supportive and was even able to convince another GP at the same clinic to complete forms to allow the release of Lenny’s TPD benefit from super early.
The money has been paid to Lenny’s mum and will be used to help him to support himself when he is released from prison. Despite the strong doctors’ support, the claim was complicated by the fact that Lenny’s work history before he ceased was sporadic, and he had worked in roles that were “off the books”.
Get help from a TPD and income protection lawyer
TPD and income protection claims for people who are in prison are complicated but not impossible. We have helped inmates at Ravenhall, Dame Phyllis Frost, June Correctional Centre and other prisons to claim insurance benefits.
If you are supporting someone who is in prison or you are about to become incarcerated and suffer from an illness or injury that affects your work capacity, please get in touch for some free advice about a possible claim.
Contacting Berrill & Watson
📞 Melbourne: 03 9448 8048
📞 Brisbane: 07 3013 4300
📞 Anywhere else in Australia: 03 9448 8048
How we charge
We are Australia's best-value superannuation/insurance law firm. Other law firms charge nearly double (& sometimes more than double) what we charge. So, if you get a quote from them, or have a cost agreement, ask us what we will charge you.