Superannuation & interdependency

Section 10A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth) (SIS Act), provides that the following factors must be met for two people to be in an interdependency relationship:

  • they have a close personal relationship; and
  • they live together; and
  • one or each of them provides the other with financial support; and
  • one or each of them provides the other with domestic support and personal care.

Regulation 1.04AAAA of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (Cth) (SIS Regulations) specify various factors to be taken into account in determining whether there is an interdependency relationship. These factors are very similar to the factors for a de facto relationship, with the addition of whether the relationship was intended to be permanent or whether the relationship was one of mere convenience. These factors are:

  • the duration of the relationship; and
  • whether or not a sexual relationship exists; and
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of property; and
  • the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life; and
  • the care and support of children; and
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship; and
  • the degree of emotional support; and
  • the extent to which the relationship is one of mere convenience; and
  • any evidence suggesting that the parties intend the relationship to be permanent.

However, not all of these factors have to exist for an interdependency relationship to be found to exist.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is an impartial, independent body that assists consumers and small businesses to resolve complaints with superannuation trustees and other financial firms. If a complaint cannot be resolved, AFCA will decide an appropriate outcome.


In Case 810873 (concerning N M Superannuation Pty Ltd), AFCA was satisfied that there was an interdependent relationship between the deceased and his sister.

The deceased arranged for his wages to be deposited into the sister’s account, she managed his finances including paying the rent and bills. They lived together for five months preceding his death. She also did the shopping.

The sister drove the deceased to his counsellor and assisted with his health and well-being. When the deceased was in prison the sister supported him and was the point of contact for his parole officer.

AFCA held that they supported each other mentally, emotionally and financially and the sister had a reasonable expectation that her interdependency relationship with the deceased would have continued indefinitely had he not died, and she would have continued to enjoy the deceased’s contributions to household expenses.

The deceased had two children, a son who was 16 and a daughter who was 13 when he died, Although child support arrangements were in place, the member only made a small number of child support payments which stopped due to his addiction and time spent in jail.

AFCA determined that the children were entitled to financial support from the deceased until they turned 18. The sister and the daughter received 35 per cent and the son 30 per cent of the member’s death benefit.

Friends & Housemates

In Case 802546 (concerning Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Ltd) the deceased and the complainant were friends and housemates who had met at school in 2013. The deceased moved in to live with the complainant in November 2016 and remained living there until he died in June 2017, at age 19.

AFCA accepted that the evidence demonstrated they had a special bond and were a source of support to one another. The member paid the complainant’s rent. The complainant drove the member to doctor’s appointments.

However, given the ages of the complainant and deceased and the relatively short duration of the living arrangement, AFCA was not convinced there was a

“close personal relationship of the relevant kind, nor an intention for the relationship to be permanent nor that there was a mutual commitment to a shared life in the relevant legislative sense.”

Case 802546 (concerning Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Ltd) at 4

AFCA noted that as there wasn’t an intention for the relationship to be permanent nor a mutual commitment to a shared life an interdependency relationship was not legislated to include flatmates or friends.


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