14 Aug 2018

Officials asked to review KiwiSaver for people with disabilities

1:32 pm on 14 August 2018

Officials have been asked to look into whether there should be a law change to enable people with certain disabilities to access their KiwiSaver early.

Retirement savings

Retirement savings Photo: 123RF

Tim Fairhall is a 39-year-old with down syndrome who is unlikely to ever reach the age of 65 to use his $8000 savings for retirement.

His mother, Joan Fairhall, is calling for change.

She said the average age of death for people with down syndrome is 57, not old enough to have retired and withdrawn their KiwiSaver.

Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi said there's no avenue as it stands for Mr Fairhall to access his savings, but he has asked officials to look into the scale of the issue.

"To see how big of a problem it might be," he said.

"To see whether it's a legislative change, or if there is a carve-out, or whether we just change the process when people sign so they're fully aware of what can and can't be done with the funds that are in there."

Mr Faafoi said Mr Fairhall's case is the only one he is aware of at this stage.

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell told RNZ on Sunday that KiwiSaver rules should be more empathetic to people with health conditions.

"It is money he has saved and he wants to withdraw it while he's still alive and that makes sense, it's his retirement savings," she said.

She said a principles-based approach, giving KiwiSaver providers discretion to release funds to people such as Mr Fairhall, would be a solution.