Saving for retirement is essential, and one way Aussies do this is through superannuation or a super account. Your employer pays a percentage of your salary into a super fund, and this acts as a savings plan for retirement. However, there are times when you might need to access your super early, like if you find yourself suddenly out of work.
While it’s essential to have a long-term savings plan so you never need to rely on your super, life can sometimes get in the way. Luckily, it’s possible to access your super early if you need to. However, you’ll need to know the correct process to avoid any unnecessary waiting or penalties. In this guide, you’ll learn how to access your super early.
When Can You Access Your Super?
First, let’s discuss when you can and should access your super. In Australia, you can access your super at the age of retirement. This is formally known as your “preservation age” and it’s anywhere between age 55 and 60. The specific age depends on when you were born, but this is the typical timeframe to begin accessing your super.
Even if you’re still working at age 65, you can access your super. In addition, if you’ve reached your preservation age but haven’t yet retired, you can still access part of your super by transitioning to a retirement pension. This is also true if you’re in a defined benefit fund.
When Can You Access Your Super Early?
There are some special circumstances when you’re eligible to access your super before retirement or your preservation age. This includes when you’re facing:
- Disability – If you’re no longer able to work (or work full-time) due to a medical condition, you can access your funds early.
- Financial hardship – If you are no longer able to afford your living expenses and you’ve been receiving Commonwealth benefits for 26 weeks, you can access your super.
- Terminal medical condition – If you’re facing a terminal medical illness or injury, you are free to access your super.
- Compassionate grounds – Finally, you’re also allowed access on “compassionate grounds.” This could be used for medical treatment, funeral expenses, or loan repayment to save your home. It’s also used in emergency situations, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
During the recent crisis, people can apply to gain access to up to $10,000 of their super in 2019-20. They can also apply for another $10,000 in 2020-21. However, since this is your retirement savings, it’s important to consider if this is the best financial step to take before applying.
Requirements to Apply
Before applying for your super, you need to make sure you satisfy the requirements. You’ll need to meet one of the following:
- You’re not employed
- You are eligible for a job seeker payment, youth allowance, parenting payment, or family household allowance
- On or after January 2020 you were either made redundantly, faced reduced working hours, or faced a reduction in business.
- You need money to pay for medical treatment, palliative care, or a death-related expense
- You or a dependent are disabled
- You need to make a payment on a home loan or council rates to avoid losing your property
You’ll need to provide evidence that you meet one or more of the above situations with your application. Essentially, if you’re in severe financial hardship or you or a dependent have an extreme illness or medical condition, you can access your super.
Accessing Your Super
In most cases, you’ll need to contact your super fund directly to apply for access. Your super fund may ask for additional information about your income depending on their criteria.
If you are applying on compassionate grounds, you’ll need to contact the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) directly. You can apply online via myGov or download the paper application to submit your request. From there, your application will be reviewed and you’ll receive a response about your super.
If you’re facing financial hardship from COVID-19, you can apply online through the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) starting from 20 April 2020. These applications are being processed quickly, and you should receive your payment within 5 days via your bank account.
Getting the Funds You Need
While you’ll need to give a lot of thought to whether you need to access your super early, this can be an effective form of relief for those in a tricky situation. Sometimes life’s hardships go beyond an emergency fund. In these instances, you’ll need to get creative to make ends meet.
However, make sure you have a plan in place before withdrawing a portion of your retirement account. This is money that’s reserved for your financial future, so you want to have a plan to replace it in time for retirement.
When in doubt, work with a financial professional who can assess your unique situation. Sometimes accessing your super early isn’t the best option at all. There are many paths forward, and sometimes the hardest part is taking that first step. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not in this alone. Contact our friendly representatives today on 1300 368 322 to get started.