KiwiSaver announcement provides equity

IHC is welcoming the Government’s announcement around the next steps for people with life-shortening congenital conditions to be able to gain early access to their KiwiSaver.

Today the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon Dr David Clark, revealed the list of conditions under the new KiwiSaver withdrawal category – Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant says it is evidence that government systems can, and should, be made fair for people with intellectual disabilities to respond to differences in life circumstances.

“A good retirement is about having some years to do the things you want to do, not about the end of your life expectancy,” says Trish.

“Individuals choose when they retire, but people with life-shortening congenital conditions shouldn’t be restricted from their retirement savings by having to wait until they’re 65.

“This will bring certainty and clarity for those people who qualify and will ensure people get an equal opportunity.”

In 2019 Tim Fairhall took his fight to Parliament and convinced the government to give early access to KiwiSaver savings for people like him with life-shortening conditions.

Tim has been putting money into his KiwiSaver account and wants to use it to travel but he can’t wait until he is 65. He has Down syndrome and will need to retire from work much earlier than that. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome is closer to 57 years – much earlier than the average age of 81 for the general population.

IHC was proud to support Tim and his mother Joan Fairhall’s for fairer access to KiwiSaver. We submitted our report in partnership with Dr Claire Matthews, Director of Academic Quality at the Massey Business School.

Trish says these changes are a testament to Tim’s hard work in challenging a system that did not work for him.

“This just shows that by providing fair and reasonable accommodations, we can have a system that works for everyone.”