Accessing your super early
Super is designed as a long-term investment to give you an income in retirement. There are certain government conditions you must meet before you can access your superannuation early.
Reaching preservation age
You can start accessing your super once you reach your preservation age. Your preservation age varies depending on your date of birth and it is not the same as the government Age Pension eligibility age.
The table below shows your preservation age, depending on when you were born:
Date of birth
|Before 1 July 1960||55|
|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|
|From 1 July 1964||60|
However, if you want to withdraw your super as a cash lump sum, you need to also meet a condition of release. These conditions include:
- reaching preservation age and fully retiring
- turning 60 and ceasing employment
- turning 65 (even if you’re working).
What if I have reached my preservation age but I’m still working?
If you are below age 65 and have reached your preservation age but are still working, you can open a First Super Transition to Retirement Pension account. This will supplement your income while reducing your work hours, may boost your super account balance and may be an effective way to pay less tax.
We’re here to help.
First Super provides its members with access to authorised Financial Planners# for intrafund advice at no additional cost. Contact our Members Services Team on 1300 360 988 or click here to arrange an appointment.
Severe Financial Hardship
If you’re struggling financially, you may be eligible to withdraw some of your super on the grounds of severe financial hardship.
If you are under the preservation age
You can apply if:
- you are receiving an eligible Commonwealth income support payment* from either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) (depending on which body makes your income support payments) for a continuous period of 26 weeks, and
- you are unable to meet immediate family living expenses**.
* A Commonwealth Government income support payment is an income support supplement, service pension, social security benefit or social security pension.
** Immediate family living expenses include household expenses, rent and rental bond, child support and child care, debts, car repair bills, health costs and veterinary bills and school fees.
If you are over the preservation age
You can apply if you:
- have been receiving Commonwealth income support payments for a cumulative period of 39 weeks after reaching Preservation Age, and
- are not gainfully* employed (full-time or part-time) at the date of the application.
*For super purposes, this means employed or self-employed for gain or reward in any business, occupation, trade, etc.
How much of my super benefit can be released?
If you are under your preservation age you can apply for one single payment in any 12-month period. The minimum payment is $1,000 (unless your balance is less than this amount) and the maximum payment is $10,000 (before tax).
If you are over your preservation age there is no limit on the amount you can apply to withdraw.
Will you be taxed on your withdrawal?
Yes. A severe financial hardship withdrawal is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum payment. If you are under 60 years old this is generally between 17% and 22%. If you are over 60, you will not be taxed.
Before making a claim it’s important to consider the following:
- If you’re a temporary resident in Australia, you won’t be eligible to apply for a payment on severe financial hardship grounds.
- If you want to keep your First Super account open, you must have enough money in it to cover administration and investment fees.
- If you have insurance cover, you need to leave enough money in your super account to pay insurance fees. If you have insufficient funds to cover this cost, your insurance will end.
- If no contributions are received into your super account for 16 months, by law First Super would be required to cancel your insurance cover automatically. See our Insurance and inactive member accounts web page for more details.
We’re here to help.
Before making a claim, contact our Financial Advice Team to help you make an informed decision and understand the impact it may have on your super account at retirement. Click here to make an appointment today.
A super withdrawal on compassionate grounds must be for unpaid expenses that you have no other means of paying, including needing money for:
- medical treatment and medical transport for you or your dependant
- palliative care for you or your dependant
- making a payment on a home loan or council rates so you don’t lose your home
- modifying your home or vehicle to accommodate your or your dependant’s severe disability
- expenses associated with the death, funeral or burial of your dependant.
The amount you can withdraw is limited to what you’d reasonably need to cover these expenses.
It’s important to note that this type of withdrawal is assessed and administered by the ATO, not by First Super. We can help with any questions you might have, but we do not determine your eligibility or the amount you may be paid.
We’re here to help.
First Home Super Saver scheme
The Federal Government introduced the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme to help Australians save for their first home using money added to their super account.
You can make extra contributions into your super account (called voluntary contributions) up to $15,000 per financial year and $50,000 in total. You can then withdraw that money (plus a deemed rate of return and minus any applicable tax) as a deposit on your first home. The advantage is you may be able to save faster.
To be eligible for release of the FHSS scheme you must:
- be aged 18 years or older
- have never owned a property before in Australia
- not have previously requested a release of funds under the FHSS scheme
- live in the house you purchase using the FHSS scheme for at least 6 of the first 12 months you own it.
If you’ve previously owned property in Australia, and experienced financial hardship that resulted in a loss of ownership of a property (e.g. bankruptcy, natural disaster), you may still be eligible to participate in the FHSS scheme (subject to approval from the ATO). You can apply through myGov under the financial hardship provision or use a First home super saver scheme – hardship application form.
For more information about how the super saver scheme works, read First Super’s First Home Super Saver scheme fact sheet.
And go to the ATO’s First home super saver scheme webpage for full details. The ATO is responsible for administering this scheme, so you will need to ensure you meet all of their eligibility conditions, which are subject to change.
We’re here to help.
Retirement savings you transfer to Australia from New Zealand are held in your super account in two parts:
- the New Zealand-sourced component
- the Australian-sourced component
To access the Australian-sourced component, you will need to meet one of the ‘conditions of release’, generally reaching your preservation age.
The most common conditions of release for paying benefits are that the member:
- has reached their preservation age and retires
- has reached their preservation age and begins a transition-to-retirement income stream
- finishes employment on or after the age of 60
- is 65 years of age (even if they haven’t retired).
To access the New Zealand-sourced component of your super account, you will need to reach the New Zealand age of retirement (currently 65).
We’re here to help.
Terminal illness or permanent incapacity
The ATO website has more details on Access due to a terminal medical condition webpage.
Permanently leaving Australia
If you have worked and earned super while visiting Australia on a temporary working visa, you can apply to have this super paid to you as a departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) after you leave.
You can claim a DASP if the following apply:
- you accumulated superannuation while working in Australia on a temporary resident visa issued under the Migration Act 1958 (excluding Subclasses 405 and 410)
- your visa has ceased to be in effect (for example, it has expired or been cancelled)
- you have left Australia and do not hold any other active Australian visa
- you are not an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or a permanent resident of Australia.
Important: Super you access as a DASP will be taxed at 65% if you’ve been paid any of that super while on a subclass 417 or 462 visa or an associated bridging visa. Otherwise, tax applied is at a lower rate.
How to claim your super?
If you’re eligible you can submit an application via:
- the DASP online application system – for both super fund and ATO-held super; and
- paper forms, but you need to use the right form
- for super money held by a super fund, use Application for a departing Australia superannuation payment form
- for ATO-held super, use Application for payment of ATO-held superannuation money
For more information, see the Departing Australian Superannuation fact sheet.
What if I’m an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or a permanent resident of Australia?
Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia aren’t eligible for the DASP.
Australian citizens and permanent residents heading overseas remain subject to the same rules as those living in Australia, even if you leave Australia permanently. You cannot access your super until you reach your preservation age and retire or satisfy another condition of release.
However, individuals permanently moving to New Zealand may be eligible to transfer their super to a KiwiSaver account. For information on transferring your super to a KiwiSaver account visit our Transfers to a KiwiSaver scheme webpage.