Accessing your super

There are a number of ways you can access your super:

  • When you reach your preservation age and retire.
  • When you reach your preservation age and begins a transition to retirement pension.
  • When you cease an employment arrangement on or after the age of 60.
  • When you are 65 years of age.
  • When you pass away.

However, there are multiple circumstances where the law allows you to access your super balance earlier, for example:

  • Severe financial hardship.
  • Compassionate grounds.
  • Permanent departure from Australia.
  • Terminal illness.
  • Permanent incapacity.
  • Your Super balance is $200 or less.

Early access of superannuation needs to be lodged via the Department of Human Services website.

Financial Hardship

You may be able to withdraw some of your super if you have received eligible government income support payments continuously for 26 weeks and are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.

The minimum amount that can be paid is $1,000 (unless your super balance is less than $1,000) and the maximum amount is $10,000. You can only make one withdrawal from your super fund because of severe financial hardship in any 12-month period.

Compassionate Grounds

You may be allowed to withdraw some of your super on compassionate grounds for unpaid expenses. Compassionate grounds include:

  • medical treatment and medical transport for you or a dependant
  • palliative care for you or a dependant
  • making a payment on a loan or council rates so you don’t lose your home
  • modifying your home or vehicle, or buying disability aids for you or a dependant because of a severe disability
  • expenses associated with a death, funeral or burial for a dependant.

The amount of super you can withdraw is limited to what you reasonably need. It is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum. If you are under 60 years old, this is generally taxed between 17% and 22%. If you are over 60 years old, you will not be taxed.

Permanent Departure from Australia

As a temporary resident working in Australia, your employer is required to make Super Guarantee contributions for you, if you’re eligible. However, as you aren’t able to retire here, you are generally permitted to take your super money with you once you leave Australia permanently and your visa has expired2. Certain restrictions apply.

This payment is called the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP).

If your super balance is less than $5,000, it’s simple to claim your super – just apply online via the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website to claim your super. It’s important to note that you can only claim your super once your visa has expired.

If your balance is over $5,000, you need to lodge “Application for departing Australia superannuation payment form” for with your super fund directly. More information can be found on ATO’s website.

Terminal Illness

You may be able to access your super if you have a terminal medical condition. In ATO’s eye’s a terminal medical condition exists if:

  • Two registered medical practitioners have certified, jointly or separately, that you suffer from an illness, or have an injury, that is likely to result in death within a period (certification period) that ends no more than 24 months after the date of the certification
  • At least one of the registered medical practitioners is a specialist practising in an area related to your illness or injury
  • The certification period for each of the certificates has not ended.

Contact your super fund to request access to your super due to a terminal medical condition. Your fund must pay your super as a lump sum. The payment is tax-free if you withdraw it within 24 months of certification.

Permanent incapacity

Under the super rules, you can also access your super benefits early if you’re suffering ‘permanent incapacity’, which has a special definition. You can access your preserved super benefits if you become permanently incapacitated, that is, the trustee of your super fund is satisfied that, due to ill health, you’re unlikely ever to be able to work in a job for which you’re reasonably qualified by education, training or experience.

If you suffer chronic illness or serious disability you may be able to claim on a total and permanent disability insurance policy that may be attached to your super account. Check with your super fund for the terms and conditions of any insurance policy.

Your super balance is less than $200

You may be able to access your super if your employment is terminated and the balance of your super account is less than $200, or if you have formerly lost super held by a super fund or by us that is less than $200.

Contact your super fund to request access. No tax is payable when accessing super accounts with a balance of less than $200.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss your options with one of our financial planners.