There are certain situations where you may be able to access your super before you retire:
- Changing employers once you turn 60*
- Having less than $200* in your account and you change your employer
- Using a transition to retirement* strategy to open a retirement income account after you reach your preservation age
- Permanently leaving Australia after being a temporary resident
- Becoming totally and permanently disabled
- Suffering from a terminal medical condition
- Experiencing severe financial hardship*
- Qualifying on compassionate grounds*
*You are not eligible to apply for this payment if you are a temporary resident in Australia
All these situations relate to what’s known as the preserved part of your super account. Any unrestricted non-preserved amounts – usually after-tax contributions made before 1 July 1999 – can be withdrawn at any time. Both preserved and non-preserved super may be subject to tax if you withdraw it before turning 60.
In the event of your death, unless you have made a valid binding nomination we take your nominated beneficiaries into account when determining who your benefits are paid to. We will also consider other people depending on your situation when you die. Read more about beneficiaries and claiming benefits here.
You might be able to access your super on compassionate grounds if you need to cover costs for you or your dependants like:
- Medical expenses (including medical transportation)
- Home loan payments to avoid foreclosure on your mortgage
- Modifications to your house or car to accommodate severe disability
- Palliative care or funeral expenses
The Department of Human Services (DHS) makes decisions on the release of super on compassionate grounds. You need to call DHS on 1300 13 10 60 to see if you qualify.
You are not eligible to apply for a payment on compassionate grounds if you are a temporary resident in Australia.
You can also download and complete an Application for early release of benefit - compassionate grounds (PDF, 260kb). Please note that a letter from DHS releasing your super must be included in your application, along with proof of your identity.
Severe financial hardship
To be eligible for the early release of your super on the grounds of severe financial hardship, you need to satisfy the following:
If you’re under preservation age and 39 weeks, you need to be:
- Receiving Commonwealth income support, and have been doing so for a continuous period of a least 26 weeks (you’ll need to submit a letter from Centrelink confirming this)
- Unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses
If you’re over preservation and 39 weeks you need to meet the above criteria or be:
- Receiving Commonwealth income support payments for a total period of at least 39 weeks after reaching your preservation age (you'll need to submit a letter from Centrelink confirming this)
- You are unemployed or employed for less than ten hours a week on the date you make your application for early release of your benefit
AustralianSuper usually makes the decisions on the release of benefits on severe financial hardship grounds provided the above criteria have been met. A super withdrawal due to severe financial hardship is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum.
The minimum amount that can be paid is $1,000 and the maximum amount is $10,000. You can only make one withdrawal from your super fund because of severe financial hardship in any 12-month period.
You will need to log into your account and complete an Application for payment of benefit – financial hardship.
You are not eligible to apply for a payment on financial hardship grounds if you are a temporary resident in Australia.
If you’re a temporary resident permanently leaving Australia, you have six months to claim your super from us. If you don’t, we may transfer your benefit to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Under Australian Securities and Investments Commission relief, we do not have to give you an exit statement if we pay your benefit to the ATO in these circumstances. Once transferred, you’ll need to contact the ATO to claim your benefit.
How to make a withdrawal
To withdraw your super, log into your account and complete an Application for payment of benefit form, or call us on 1300 300 273 weekdays between 8.00am and 8.00pm (AEST/AEDT). We’ll send you:
- A quote of your benefit amount
- An application form.
You’ll need to complete the application form and return it along with any documents requested, including your proof of identity.