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
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.
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
Terminal illness or permanent incapacityIf you're diagnosed with a terminal illness or are permanently incapacitated, you may be able to claim some or all of your super. Call 1300 300 273 so we can assist you through this situation.
Compassionate groundsYou can apply to access your super before your preservation age on ‘compassionate grounds’. This includes if you need the money to pay for:
- medical expenses for you or your dependants
- partial payment of home loans to avoid foreclosure of the loan
- modification of a home or vehicle for you or your dependants suffering a severe disability
- the cost of palliative care for you or your dependants
- funeral costs for a dependant
- medical transport for you or your dependants.
Applications for payments under compassionate grounds need to be made to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
If your payment reduces your account balance it may affect your insurance cover. To maintain insurance cover you’ll need to have enough money in your super account to pay for it. In some circumstances insurance cover can cease, such as if no contributions are received in your super account for 16 months – you can apply to extend cover, providing you have at least $1,000 in your super account. To learn more about the other factors that could impact your insurance cover read our Insurance in your super guide
For more information, see the Application for a payment (compassionate grounds) form.
Permanently leaving Australia
Temporary residents who earned super while working and living in Australia can apply to have super paid out as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) after you leave.
To access your super, you must:
- have been paid super while in Australia on a temporary visa, including subclasses 417 (Working Holiday) and 462 (Work and Holiday) and associated bridging visas
- have already left Australia
- be the holder of an expired or cancelled visa
If eligible apply online or download a form at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website.
Generally, 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.
Australian citizens, permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand citizens 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 they leave Australia permanently. This means they can't access their super until they reach preservation age and meet the retirement criteria for accessing super. However, individuals permanently moving New Zealand may be eligible to transfer their super to a KiwiSaver.
For more information, see the Claiming super when you leave Australia fact sheet. For information on transferring to a KiwiSaver see the Transfer your account to your KiwiSaver form.
Member Direct investors
If you have an investment in the Member Direct option and there are insufficient funds in your Accumulation and Member Direct cash account, you may need to consider selling some of your investments before submitting a withdrawal request. Term Deposits that haven't matured may incur penalties. For more information, please see the Member Direct guide.
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.