Dealing with bills and debts

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to consider ways to manage the financial impact of advanced cancer. If you are having difficulty paying your utility bills, such as electricity, gas, water, phone or internet, contact your provider. You may be able to access flexible payment arrangements, discounts, rebates or concessions.

Check with the hospital social worker whether other options are available in your state or territory.

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Accessing superannuation early

In Australia, you need to be at least 55 years old and retired before you are allowed to access your superannuation (super). However, you can apply to access your superannuation early under particular circumstances, such as if you need to pay for medical treatment, are facing severe financial hardship, or are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

To access super early, you will need to apply to the Department of Human Services, or directly with your super fund. You may need to provide supporting documentation. Call 13 11 20 to speak to Cancer Council’s Legal and Financial Referral Service for more information.


People often don’t realise that they have insurance attached to their superannuation. Many funds offer insurance by default.

Common types of insurance provided through superannuation funds can include income protection, total and permanent disability and life insurance (may be called death cover).

To find out whether you’re eligible to access cover through superannuation insurance or how accessing your super early will affect your insurance entitlements, talk to your insurer or to a financial planner.

This is only an introduction to these topics. Cancer Council’s booklet Cancer and Your Finances has more detailed information, and there are also fact sheets on superannuation, insurance, debts and funerals available in many states and territories. Call 13 11 20 for these free resources, or download digital versions from your local website.

This information was last reviewed in December 2016
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