Your superannuation is intended to fund your retirement, so it’s only natural that there are strict rules regarding when and under what conditions one can access super.
In the article below we will tell you more about how to withdraw super, when can you access your fund early and whether it is a good idea to tap into your superannuation before retirement.
When Can I Access My Super?
In Australia, you can withdraw your super
- When you turn 65, even if you are still working
- When you reach your preservation age and retire
- When you reach your preservation age but are still working (access super via a transition to retirement pension)
- If you meet early access conditions
What Is Your Preservation Age?
Your preservation age (not the same as your Age Pension age) shows when you are of eligible age to access superannuation in Australia. It is determined by the year in which you were born, as can be seen from the table below
|Date of Birth
|Before July 1 1960
|1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961
|1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962
|1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963
|1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964
|From 1 July 1964
How Do I Access My Super
There are two ways you can withdraw your super.
Super income stream
As the name suggests, when you withdraw your super as an income stream, you get regular payments from your super provider spread out over an indefinite period of time at least once a year. Also known as pensions or annuities, this is a great way to ensure your savings go a long way in retirement.
Not happy with your current super provider? This is what you need to do to change super funds.
Your super income stream can be:
- Account based where you withdraw a minimum amount each time (based on your age and super balance) until there is nothing left to withdraw from your super account.
- Non-account based. This way instead of withdrawing different sums every year you can make arrangements with your super provider to transfer a regular amount every month, like a monthly income. Just make sure that your super provider offers a capped defined benefit income stream so that the payments you receive do not count towards your transfer balance cap.
A super income streams stops when:
- There is no more money in the account
- The member dies and there is no member or dependant beneficiary entitled to receive the money
- The super fund has not made minimum annual contributions
- Commutation, i.e. switching from withdrawing super as an income stream to taking money out as a lump sum.
Worth noting: Once you start withdrawing your super as an income stream, you can no longer top up the same account.
Super lump sum
Provided your super fund permits it, you can take out some or all of your super at once.
If you withdraw your super as a lump sum and invest in property or stocks using that money it will no longer be considered as super and it will be taxed accordingly.
Who Can Access Their Super Early?
These are the following situations in which you can take money out of your super before you reach the super access age.
1. Access on compassionate grounds
You could be able to withdraw from your super for expenses you cannot otherwise pay. The amount you can take out needs to be reasonable and not go over what you need to cover unpaid expenses.
You can access your super before the superannuation withdrawal age on compassionate grounds if you need to pay for:
- Medical treatment and medical transport for you or a dependant
- A home loan or council rates that if unpaid will lead to the loss of your home
- Pain management for your or a dependant
- Expenses associated with the death, funeral or burial of your dependant.
The super withdrawn on compassionate grounds will be taxed as a super lump sum.
How is super taxed? Read more about contribution tax here.
2. Severe Financial Hardship
To qualify you need to prove that you are not able to cover your family’s living expenses and that you have not received government support payments for 26 consecutive weeks.
You can withdraw amounts between $1,000 up to $10,000 no more than once a year. But if you have reached the preservation age plus 39 weeks and weren’t employed when you applied, there are no limitations to how much you can withdraw.
Be aware that if you are withdrawing funds from super based on financial hardship, it will receive the same tax rate as a super lump sum. Members under 60 will be taxed between 17 and 22%, while those over 60 will not pay tax.
For more information on accessing super early because of financial hardship, click here.
Can you withdraw super to pay debt?
If you are experiencing severe financial difficulties, you might consider withdrawing super to pay your debt. However, this depends on your super provider as each company has its own regulations regarding early release of super funds. These requests are not administered by the ATO.
3. Terminal medical condition
A terminal medical condition is accepted as a reason for early release only if two doctors have certified that your illness or condition will result in death within 24 months after signing the certificate. Plus, one of the doctors must be a specialist in an area related to your injury or illness.
Your super will be paid as a lump sum without any tax if you withdraw it within those 24 months.
If you need to access your super on these grounds, you should apply for an Australian super withdrawal online with your super provider or the ATO (if your super is held by them)
Access to super because of COVID-19 was also allowed, although the program closed on 31 December 2020 and you can no longer withdraw super due to COVID-19.
4. Temporary/permanent incapacity
If you have a temporary incapacity (caused by a physical or mental medical condition) due to which you’re not able to work for some period or need to work fewer hours, you’re eligible for an early release of super.
You will get super in regular income payments (income stream) while you are unable to work. To take money out of your super on these grounds contact your fund.
Withdrawing funds from super because of permanent incapacity is also known as a disability super benefit.
To qualify you need to show that you are unable to do the work you are educated, qualified or trained to do, although you can still engage in light duties or casual work in another area.
The super will be paid out either as a lump sum or income stream.
Worth noting: Withdrawing super due to permanent disability is taxed differently. Check the ATO for more details.
5. The First Home Super Saver Scheme
Under the FHSS, you can use some of your super to buy a home. As of 2022/23, you can access up to $15,000 from one year, or $30,000 contributions across all years.
6. Super under $200
If you were fired and have less than $200 in your super or found a “lost” super with a balance lower than that, you can release the funds without paying any tax.
7. Leaving Australia
People working on a temporary visa in Australia can request their super after leaving as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP). For Australian residents who are moving to another country, super rules are the same—the money stays in your account until you reach the access to superannuation age.
Worth noting: You might receive information that transferring super funds to an SMSF can get you early access to super. This is illegal and subject to serious penalties. Always make sure that you choose a superfund from a trusted provider to avoid getting involved in scams and fraudulent activities.
Bottom Line: Is Withdrawing Funds From Super a Good Idea?
It mght be tempting to try and access your super early especially if you are interested in making a bigger purchase, such as a house.
However, withdrawing money from your super is not that easy and for good reason. For most people super is the main source of income after retirement, so in order to spend your golden years in style it is crucial to build your superannuation.
What’s more, the government has strict rules about when super can be accessed and under what circumstances. Failure to comply with these rules can result in hefty fines and penalties.
All this means that unless you are faced with extreme financial hardship or are unable to work anymore, it’s best to wait until you hit the eligible age to access super in Australia.
1. How can I withdraw my AMP super?
AMP, one of the leading super providers in Australia, allows you to access super only if you meet the ATO’s conditions of release. To access your super, contact the company and they will provide you with all the details.
2. How much super can I withdraw after 60?
You can only get your super at 60 if you meet a condition of release or if you retire. You can also only withdraw your super as a lump sum, the amount of which depends on your super provider and their terms and conditions.
3. How long does it take to take money out of super?
It usually takes 5 business days to deposit super into a bank account. Keep in mind that it might take longer if fraud is detected or if you need to confirm certain details.
4. Can I withdraw my super to buy a car?
Technically no, but if you meet the condition of release (being over 65 or being over the preservation age and retired) you can then use the money to buy a vehicle. If you have an SMSF, you can use your super to buy a car, however, it must be for the benefit of the member and not have a present day benefit.
5. Can I access super while I’m still working?
If you’re 65 and over, you can access your super, even if you’re still working. Individuals aged 60-64 must be retired to access their super or be transitioning to a retirement account.
6. At what age can I withdraw my super without paying tax?
People aged 60 and over can withdraw their super either as a lump sum or income stream without paying tax.
7. How to withdraw super when leaving Australia?
If you are not a permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand and you meet other eligibility requirements, you can contact the ATO and apply for a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP).