Change in KiwiSaver rules will provide early access for people with shortened life expectancy

The amendment will allow early access for certain New Zealanders.
The amendment will allow early access for certain New Zealanders. Photo credit: Getty

People with congenital life-shortening conditions will be able to access their KiwiSaver funds before the age of 65, the Government announced on Sunday.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, Kris Faafoi, said the issue was raised last year by Tim Fairhall, a 40-year-old Auckland man with Down syndrome. 

Fairhall and his mother reportedly asked a Parliamentary select committee last year for a change in KiwiSaver's rules, as those with life-shortening conditions are unlikely to live to the normal retirement age of 65.

Fairhall has been contributing to KiwiSaver for years, but has a shortened life expectancy due to his Down syndrome. Faafoi says he wanted Fairhall, and others like him, to be able to use their KiwiSaver funds to support their wellbeing in their retirement.

KiwiSaver will soon feature a withdrawal category for New Zealanders in this situation.

"The current requirement for people to be 65 years of age to access their savings significantly disadvantages those with life-shortening congenital conditions," says Faafoi.

"The new category allows [these] people... to withdraw their savings at the point that it makes sense of them to retire."

People will qualify for the withdrawal category based on a setlist of conditions named in regulations. Those wanting early access would need to provide a medical certificate alongside other evidence.

This amendment to the KiwiSaver Act 2006 is expected to increase KiwiSaver's benefit for all New Zealanders.