FAMILIES could lose out on superannuation death benefits under budget changes that have been largely overshadowed by discussion of the broader superannuation reforms.
QUT visiting law fellow Alastair McAdam said confusion around the proposed changes had obscured a provision that would cancel anti-detriment benefits offered by many superannuation funds from July 2017.
Anti-detriment benefits, which are payable when death benefits are paid as a lump sum to a spouse or dependant, amount to a refund of the 15 per cent contribution tax paid by a person throughout their working life.
Not all superannuation funds provide an anti-detriment payment.
Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the removal of the payments as part of budget measures to improve the transparency and integrity of superannuation.
However Mr McAdam said removing the benefit would affect many "ordinary people" who had a spouse or dependent children.
"Even people on modest government schemes could lose $100,000 or more," he said.
"The anti-detriment payment is paid to an eligible spouse when a superannuation member dies before the spouse or dependent children die.
"It is an additional payment made up of the 15 per cent tax the deceased person has paid over the lifetime of their super fund.
"For many people with modest superannuation balances this could be anything from $10,000 to $30,000 extra super that their dependents will miss out on after July 2017."
He said the removal of the benefit was particularly unfair because there was no grandfathering clause to protect the existing rights of members of superannuation funds.
"The anti-detriment payment was initially instigated as a top-up for widows and children.
"In cases where the anti-detriment benefit is a substantial amount of money, people might have been banking on it as part of the benefit to provide for their spouse and children, particularly if the partner had withdrawn from paid work to care for children and family members."
The budget measures are yet to be approved by parliament.