These questions and answers are provided for general information and guidance only. They are not a substitute for the Rules themselves, and for clarity please check the Rules, or contact a trustee or the MBF office.
1. What is the MBF (Mutual Benefit Fund)?
The ATC MBF is a mutual fund which provides financial and other assistance and benefits to any members whose earning capacity as an operational air traffic controller has ceased due to the suspension or cancellation, either temporarily or permanently, of his/her medical certificate on medical grounds. It is not an insurance company and does not exist primarily to generate a profit. The Fund has been granted SAD (Sickness, Accident, and Death) status by Inland Revenue, which means it is exempt from tax.
2. Who manages the Fund?
It is governed by a Board of eight Trustees. Five of the Trustees are elected from among the members of the Fund, one is appointed by Airways, and two are independent non-member Trustees. All the assets and accumulated funds belong to the members, and are vested in the Trustees.
3. Who can apply to join the MBF?
Any operational air traffic controller up from age 21 to age 50 is eligible to join. If you have previously been a member and resigned, you may re-join over age 50 subject to some restrictions. Once you are a member, your membership continues to age 65. Some non–operational controllers are also eligible although there are some restrictions around this.
4. How much does it cost?
Contributions are made by both the members and Airways. The member’s contribution rate is based on your salary, with a maximum of 0.85% of gross salary. The Trustees determine the contribution rate each year. Information about the current contribution rate is available by contacting the MBF office. Airways’ contribution to the Fund is set at approximately three times the members’ rate.
5. Is there a maximum and/or minimum cover I can apply for?
No. The maximum cover (or Capital Benefit) is set at four times your gross salary excluding “extra” payments such as OJTI/Check allowance, responsibility loading, and overtime, etc. Under the Rules, the Capital Benefit increases from 30% to 100% (of four times gross salary) over the first five years of membership, and reduces in a linear manner from 100% to zero between the ages of 57 and 65.
6. How do I pay the contributions?
Upon acceptance as a member, Airways will automatically deduct your contributions from your fortnightly salary payments and remit them to the Fund.
7. What medical information do I have to provide and who will see this information?
As part of the application you must complete a Health Declaration. This is very similar to the aviation medical questionnaire. Any non-disclosure may affect any claim subsequently made on the Fund.
Information collected on this form will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. It will be seen only by the Trustees and the Fund’s office staff and those people whom the Trustees deem necessary to view to assist with returning a member to work, or making a Capital Benefit payout. If an exclusion is contemplated, the information might also be seen by a medical assessor, as set out in the following FAQ.
8. What is an “exclusion”?
Unlike an insurance company, the MBF will not decline an applicant who otherwise meets the Rules for membership. However to protect the Fund from excessive risk, the Trustees may, after medical advice, apply an exclusion on your membership relating to a medical condition that exists at the time you apply for membership. An exclusion means there is no entitlement to a benefit if your medical certificate is suspended because of that specific medical condition. However the Trustees may, at their discretion, make limited benefit payments in these circumstances.
9. If I have been subject to a particular exclusion, what happens if my condition improves?
You can apply to have the exclusion lifted from your cover. The Trustees will consider this request and take medical advice.
10. What types of illness or injury are covered by the MBF?
Apart from an exclusion, the MBF generally covers all members who have lost their medical certificate regardless of how the condition arose. All ailments, physical and psychological, are covered to certain levels, subject to restrictions specified in the Rules. There are some situations where a payment is subject to the discretion of the Trustees, such as for war, intentional self-injury, suicide, injuries sustained under the influence of drugs or alcohol or during the commission of a criminal act, and the like.
11. What is a “Capital Benefit”?
The Capital Benefit is the maximum amount a member may receive in the event of a permanent loss of medical. This will normally be paid in fortnightly instalments, however in rare cases at the discretion of the Trustees it can be paid as a lump sum payment. It is tax free, and It is currently set at four times gross salary.
12. If I am on sick leave or receiving ACC payments, can I also receive MBF payments?
To receive a benefit, you must have lost your medical certificate AND used all your sick leave before the MBF will make any payments. If you are receiving ACC, the MBF will “top up” your ACC payments to ensure you are receiving the equivalent of your fortnightly net income.
13. If I lose my medical, will this whole process will be activated automatically?
No. You must advise a Trustee or the MBF Office ASAP after you become aware of a situation that will affect your medical certificate. Airways and/or the CAA will not necessarily tell the MBF of the medical status of their staff/clients.
14. How long do I have to advise the MBF of an event which has caused, or may cause, the suspension of my medical certificate?
You have 90 days. Ideally you should tell the MBF as soon as possible so that cover can be organised to start quickly, but the maximum period allowed by the Rules is 90 days.
15. If I make a claim on the MBF and then regain my medical certificate, can I still have coverage under the MBF?
Yes. If the same medical issue arises again, the Trustees may consider that to be a continuation of the original ailment and therefore the Capital Benefit would be adjusted accordingly. However any new condition would be considered a new claim. Should a member receive a total Capital Benefit payout and subsequently become eligible for a medical certificate and be employed as an operational air traffic controller, then membership would be at the discretion of the Trustees.
16. Does the MBF provide Health and Life insurance?
No. The MBF is not an insurance company. The MBF does not provide death cover. However the Trustees do have discretion to make payments to dependants of a deceased member in certain circumstances. (Death cover is provided through the Airways Superannuation Plan. Contact Airways for further details on this.)
17. Does the MBF do anything else apart from financial support?
Losing your ability to work as a controller can be a very distressing situation. The MBF can provide support, advice and assistance to any members in this situation. Our Trustees are experienced in dealing with this, and are very willing and able to help. Please contact any of them, or the Office, for help.
18. How do I join the MBF?
Go to “Contact Us” on this website for further details and an application form, or contact a Trustee or the MBF Office.
19. How do I contact the MBF?
The MBF office is located in Wellington.
Or simply contact one of the Trustees. All are available to assist at any time.