When can I access my superannuation?
Generally, you can’t access your superannuation until you reach your preservation age (i.e. 56 to 60 depending on your date of birth) and retire from the workforce. Once you have met these criteria, you can access your superannuation in three ways:
- As a lump sum payment.
- As an income stream
- A combination of both.
|Date of birth||Preservation age|
|1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961||56|
|1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962||57|
|1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963||58|
|1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964||59|
|After 30 June 1964||60|
Source: Australian Taxation Office
Types of superannuation benefits
There are three types of superannuation benefits:
- Preserved:Must be retained in a superannuation fund until you reach your preservation age and retire.
- Restricted non-preserved:Can only be paid on termination of employment or under the same conditions preserved benefits are paid. If you have been terminated from employment, the benefit will become unrestricted non-preserved.
- Unrestricted non-preserved:Can be paid on request.
See below for more information about each benefit.
Generally, all contributions made to your superannuation account and all earnings, regardless of their source, must be preserved with the superannuation system until you meet a condition of release (which is normally when you reach your preservation age and retire).
Restricted non-preserved benefits
If you had an arrangement with an employer to contribute superannuation for you between 1 July 1983 and 1 July 1999, you may have benefits that are classified as restricted non-preserved. As long as you’re employed by that employer, access to that benefit is restricted and cannot be paid. When you stop working for that employer, contributions become unrestricted and can be paid out to you at any time.
Unrestricted non-preserved benefits
Unrestricted non-preserved benefits have no payment restrictions. These are generally benefits that you have already become entitled to receive but have decided to keep within the fund. Provided that your superannuation fund allows the payment, these benefits can be paid out to you on request irrespective of your age, employment situation or financial position.
Accessing superannuation before retirement
Strict government rules prevent early access to preserved benefits except in a limited number of exceptional circumstances:
Severe financial hardship
To be eligible for your benefit to be released on the grounds of severe financial hardship, you must:
- Provide a letter from the relevant government department (e.g. Centrelink) certifying that you have been receiving Commonwealth Income Support for at least 26 continuous weeks.
- Complete a Severe Financial Hardship Form proving that you are unable to meet your reasonable and immediate living expenses from any other source and provide evidence of this.
You can only receive one payment in a 12-month period and the amount cannot exceed a gross amount of $10,000.
Under very limited circumstances, you can apply to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to have your benefit or part of your benefit released on compassionate grounds. DHS follow strict guidelines and will only allow release of superannuation for the following specific reasons:
- medical treatment
- medical transport
- mortgage assistance
- modifications to your home and/or motor vehicle because of a severe disability
- funeral assistance
- care for terminal medical condition.
Visit Department of Human Services for more information.
Your superannuation benefit can be paid out if you become totally and permanently incapacitated. To have your benefit released early, you must provide medical certification from two doctors, one being a specialist, stating that you are totally and permanently disabled and, in the opinion of the treating doctor, unlikely to ever work again in a job for which you are reasonably educated, trained or experienced.
This medical certification does not automatically provide for payment of any benefit or insurance claim you may have. If you have taken out total and permanent disability insurance, you may be able to make a claim on your Life and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance cover instead.
Non-resident leaving Australia
If you entered Australia on an eligible temporary resident visa and later permanently left Australia, you can apply to receive your superannuation benefits. This is called a Departing Australia Super Payment (DASP). You can apply for this payment through the Australian Tax Office. Please contact us before you leave Australia so we can send you the relevant documentation.
Please note that if you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you are not eligible for the DASP even if you hold an eligible temporary resident visa. This is because Australian and New Zealand citizens may retain the right to retire in Australia.
Download our Departing Australia fact sheet here