Government considers life-shortening conditions in KiwiSaver criteria

Morning Talk 12/12/2018

New Zealanders living with life-shortening conditions may be one step closer to early KiwiSaver access.

Tim Fairhall, a 39-year-old man with Down syndrome, told MPs in September that he wanted to use his KiwiSaver to travel overseas.

He argued that people with his condition won't typically live beyond the withdrawal age of 65, with an average life expectancy for those with Down syndrome at 57 years.

"Tim will die of old age - it's just that his old age will come a bit earlier than most people's," his mum Joan Fairhall told RadioLIVE.

It appears that the Government has been listening, with the appointment of two independent advisors to help Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi in a rethinking of KiwiSaver rules.

The advisors will consult with medical practitioners and KiwiSaver experts and report back to Mr Faafoi by the end of February. Legislation would then be required to change the KiwiSaver withdrawal criteria.

At the moment, KiwiSaver rules allow early withdrawal if a New Zealander with a life-shortening condition becomes permanently unable to work or is at imminent risk of death.

Mr Fairhall has been contributing to his KiwiSaver scheme for 10 years and working since he was 18 years old.

"He deserves to spend the money he has saved for his retirement on having the trip he wants to take in his retirement."

The criteria could change for those with life-shortening conditions within the next few years, Stuff reports.

"This isn't just him," said Ms Fairhall. "This is actually for a lot of people."

Listen to the full interview with Joan Fairhall above.

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