Access your super early

Super is a long-term investment to fund retirement. Accessing super early is strictly limited to special circumstances.

If eligible, you may be able to access some of your super before retiring due to:

  • severe financial hardship
  • compassionate grounds
  • terminal illness or permanent incapacity.
  • permanently leaving Australia

The Coronavirus early access to super scheme is no longer operating. You cannot apply to access super due to Covid 19 related hardship.

First home buyers who qualify for the First Home Super Saver Scheme managed and approved by the ATO, may also be able to withdraw any funds contributed to your super account for that purpose.

Things to consider before accessing super early

Even if you meet the strict conditions, it’s important to consider how an early withdrawal will impact:

  • your retirement income
  • any tax you may need to pay
  • insurances paid through your super
  • the impact taking a super payment may have on any government benefits you’re receiving

Financial hardship

If you have experienced financial hardship for some time, you may be able to access some or all of your super to meet reasonable and immediate living expenses.

Eligibility

You can apply for one payment of up to $10,000 gross in a 12-month period if:

  • you haven't received a financial hardship payment from any superannuation fund within the last 12 months
  • you’ve received eligible Commonwealth income support payments for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks
  • you’re receiving these payments when you make your application for payment under financial hardship, and
  • you’re unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses
  • If you want to keep your super account open, you need to leave a minimum of $1,000 in your account after making any withdrawal.

If you’ve reached the age you can legally access your super (preservation age) you can apply to withdraw as much of your super as you wish if:

  • you’ve been receiving eligible Commonwealth income support payments for a combined period of at least 39 weeks since reaching your preservation age, and
  • you’re unemployed or employed for less than ten hours a week when you make your application for payment under financial hardship

Temporary residents in Australia are ineligible for financial hardship.

  • If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for severe financial hardship, the National Debt Helpline may be able to help with free financial counselling. Call 1800 007 007 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–4.30pm), or visit ndh.org.au
  • If you’re ineligible for financial hardship payments, read about support for managing urgent debt or living costs at moneysmart.gov.au
  • If you have income protection insurance through your superannuation, you are not covered for loss of income from reduced hours, job loss or redundancy.

Make a financial hardship withdrawal application

Apply for a financial hardship payment by logging into your account. Select ‘make a withdrawal’ and choose ‘financial hardship’ to complete the form.

You will need two of these forms of identification to apply online:

  • a valid Passport
  • current Driver’s Licence
  • current Medicare Card

If you can’t access your account, complete the Apply for a payment (financial hardship) form.

Tax on financial hardship payments

Financial hardship payments are taxed as a super lump sum. If you're under 60 years old, this is generally taxed between 17% and 22%. Super withdrawals are tax free for those aged 60 and over.

Maintaining insurance cover after an early access payment

To maintain any insurance cover through your super, you need to have enough money left in your super account to pay for future premiums. In some circumstances insurance cover can cease if no contributions are made to your super account for 16 months. To learn more about the other factors that could impact your insurance cover read our Insurance in your super guide.

Other situations you can access super early

You can also access super early when:
  • you have an account balance of $200 or less (you may be able to claim this as cash).
  • you have unrestricted non-preserved super (which is usually after-tax contributions made before 1 July 1999). Check whether you have non-preserved super by logging into your account.
Further reading:

Request a call back

If you would like to discuss your options with AustralianSuper, we can call you at a time that suits you.

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