Using Your Superannuation to Pay for Dental Treatment

Dr Adrian Kat - ERS

Going to the dentist can be expensive – especially if you need dental surgery. But did you know, you can dip into your superannuation to help cover costs?

It’s called Early Release of Superannuation (ERS) and from the 1st July 2018, the governing body changed from the Department of Human Services to the Australian Tax Office. But what does this mean?

Advanced Dental Artistry’s practice manager Joanne Hall says it’s been a popular option for a long time, but now the process is much simpler since the ATO took the reins.

“I think it’s brilliant,” Joanne says.

“It gives people who have a genuine medical reason to seek dental work more ways to go about it and have access to a broader range of practices. Including those that offer no compromise on levels of care.”

Qualifying for ERS for dental

Your superannuation is there to help protect your quality of life in retirement. Accessing it before that time is strictly regulated of course. However, for cases where your quality of life will be lower if you don’t access those funds, the government makes allowances.

“It must be justified on medical grounds,” Joanne says.

“If your teeth aren’t fit for purpose – if you can’t chew and can’t eat – that is good grounds for an ERS application.

“Cosmetic veneers and things like that are not really an option. But if you need the porcelain to adjust your bite, that’s different. So, it really depends on your circumstances. All-on-4 is probably the most common treatment which people have been funding via the super route, that is when you need all your teeth replacing because they are terminal so this certainly fits the criteria.”

Dr Adrian on 6PR talking about accessing your Super for medical grounds and dental work.

In the case of dental work, some of the procedures ERS can be used to access include:

  • Orthodontic treatments – beyond straightening smiles, orthotics are also used to correct bite and chewing
  • Implants – more than filling in a gappy smile, dental implantation is a multi-step procedure to replace a lost tooth with a prosthesis to restore oral function
  • Root canals – this complicated procedure to remove infection from beneath a tooth that is still in place, this requires a true expert touch
  • Crowns – this comprehensive preventative procedure caps an unhealthy tooth to prevent further damage and further cost
  • Surgery – oral and maxillofacial surgeries are often medically necessary to treat many conditions affecting the head, neck, jaw, mouth and teeth.

Even general dentistry can be ERS-approved because, more than other medical fields, looking after your teeth requires prevention over cure. Check-ups, cleans and fillings are crucial for minimising the need for and costs of future work.

How does a dental ERS application work?

Joanne says the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has strict rules for what qualifies as a treatment you can finance through ERS. Here’s how the procedure usually begins:

  1. Come in to see Advanced Dental Artistry for an assessment.
  2. We present you with a comprehensive treatment plan backed by scans, photographs and video of your dental condition.
  3. Your plan lets you know exactly what we think needs to be done and why, and then gives the item number and cost for each.
  4. We discuss options for how to proceed. You can apply for ERS to pay for treatments for yourself, your partner or your children.
  5. Your application for funding must cover the entire cost of the procedure, so it is important you have enough funds to cover the cost of treatment.

“It is about being able to tick all the boxes,” Joanne says. “And it’s a government process with a lot of boxes.”

“We recommend people don’t go down this path alone.”

 “Due to the ever rising numbers of patients opting to access superannuation, we now have a dedicated inhouse team to help manage and lodge all our patients applications. Going it alone is tough, one box not ticked correctly means your application will get rejected and you have the start the whole process again! We know the criteria and what is required, in times gone by patients have tried to lodge applications themselves, sadly the result was rarely positive as it’s so easy to miss something in the small print.”

While Advanced Dental Artistry will do as much as they can, you will still need to be involved throughout the process.

“You may still have to get letters from your specialist GP and chase up things like that.
“If we can collectively can get everything sorted out, approval can take anything from 3 to 6 weeks – we are dealing with the government though, so there can be delays.
“It can take a few weeks after approval for your superannuation provider to release the funds.”

(It is important to note that while we help patients apply for ERS, we are not a financial services company or a superannuation fund. If you are considering ERS, please also consult a financial expert.)

Why does dental care seem so expensive?

It’s no secret that dental care can carry considerable costs. There are many reasons. Advanced Dental Artistry, is a little different in that we are not a preferred provider for any health funds.
This is an intentional choice by our Principal Dentist Dr Adrian Kat. Health funds have rules controlling what their member dentists do in terms of:

  • Time
  • Technologies
  • Treatment.

“We emphasise level of service, we use techniques are backed by the latest research and our laboratory is in-house, which is quite rare,” Joanne says.

We strive for excellence, quality and long-term results. If we were to discount our prices, it’s because we’d have been cutting corners. And that is not something you want any dentist doing.”

To find out more about your ERS options and to work with a Perth dental leader call 1800 SMILING for a no-obligation discussion.

Published on January 30th 2018, last reviewed on February 10th 2020


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