Going to the dentist is pretty much routine for all of us. But unless you take every possible measure to keep your teeth in pristine shape, there will come a time when you would need to undergo some serious dental treatment. Just to clarify, this treatment is not your typical prophylaxis or the occasional tooth removal; I’m talking about orthodontics, implants, root canals, surgery, and more. And if there is anything common about them, it’s that they tend to get very expensive – a typical dental implant can cost 3000 dollars at the very least.
But as it turns out, there is actually a way you can have these expensive treatments without you needing to tear up the funds you have on hand. Thanks to the Australian Tax Office’s Early Release of Superannuation (ERS), you can now use the funds from your superannuation to help cover the costs of the procedure beginning the 1st of July 2018. For those who aren’t from Australia, the superannuation (often called super for short) is a government-encouraged retirement fund similar to the 401k in America. Until recently however, funds in your super are kept locked down until you reach retirement age and are formally retired from work. Thanks to ERS, you will now be able to withdraw part of your super fund to cover some of the expenses from your dental treatment.
How to qualify for ERS for your dental treatment
Though it is possible to get ERS, the systems already in place make it so that your superannuation fund cannot be released as easily. Your funds, therefore, will only be released to you on one of two conditions: compassionate grounds and grounds of severe financial hardship. In the case of withdrawing some of your super for dental treatment, you will have to apply for ERS on compassionate grounds.
Compassionate grounds constitute immediate unpaid expenses, such as for a mortgage on your house, funeral or death expenses, or medical expenses for you or a relative. Expenses for dental treatment happen to fall under medical expenses, so your application satisfies the terms of compassionate grounds. However, the ATO judges ERS on a case by case basis, so you must have an adequate justification for them to give you the funds.
Some of the dental procedures that can be done that are usually approved for ERS include:
- Orthodontics – these procedures are designed to correct the alignment of teeth and jaws, in turn correcting unusual or anomalous bite. Orthodontic procedures make use of various implements, such as braces, orthodontic headgear, or synthetic aligners.
- Implants – this surgical procedure replaces lost or damaged teeth with an artificial one that is attached to the jawbone through a metal post.
- Root Canal Treatment – this procedure is often used to relieve pain from inflammation or infection in the tooth. In root canal treatment, a hole is drilled into the infected or damaged tooth and the soft pulp inside is removed, then the tooth is filled with sealant and capped off with an artificial crown to protect and preserve it.
- Crowns – these are artificial pieces moulded after your teeth that are fitted on top of a tooth as a preventative protective measure.
- Surgery – these surgical procedures go beyond implants, and usually involve more than just teeth. Dental surgery is often used to treat patients who are suffering from specific conditions that affect the teeth, jaw, mouth, neck, and even the head.
Do note that other dental treatments may not be as easily approved for funding through ERS, such as cosmetic veneers, as they may not fulfil a preventative or curative role the same way as, say, a root canal. On the other hand, they can be considered as a medical treatment by the ATO if they do have a beneficial purpose beyond a purely aesthetic one. Some of the more common dental treatments like tooth removal, check-ups, and prophylaxis (tooth cleaning) can also be approved for ERS because they can be justified as preventative care for your teeth. In such cases, you should always check in with your dentist so they can give you a proper assessment of your dental condition and show you the possible treatments you can undergo.
How to apply for an ERS for dental treatment
As was previously mentioned, the Australian Tax Office is particularly strict with releasing funds from your super, so you will have to go through their lengthy process. Here’s how you can apply for ERS for your dental treatment:
- Come to our clinic at Suite 203, 5/115 Grand Boulevard, Joondalup, WA for a consultation and check-up. Our dentists will assess your current dental condition.
- After the assessment, we will provide you with a treatment plan for your specific case, which will include details on all of the treatment options available to you. We will explain to you what is involved in each treatment option and how much it will cost.
- Once the details for the treatment plan are sorted out, it will be up to you to take your case to the ATO or your superannuation provider to apply for an ERS. This is by far the longest step of the procedure, and as is expected of a government process, will take around three to six weeks to get approval. Make sure that the amount you are applying for withdrawal will cover the entire cost of the treatment.
- If your application is approved, you will have to wait a few more weeks for your superannuation provider to give you the money.
The application process is long and tedious with a lot of hurdles and paperwork to deal with. Although you will have to go to all of the necessary offices and provide all of the necessary documents, you do not have to go through this process alone. If you need help with the financial aspect of ERS, you can consult a financial adviser to help you sort out the finer details. If you need help with the paperwork, we at Dentist Joondalup will do everything we can to arrange most of the documents you need to submit to the ATO. And once your ERS has been approved, rest assured our team of expert dentists will give you the best dental treatment Joondalup can offer.