When can you access your super?

Generally, any money saved in the superannuation system after 1 July 1999 (as well as all investment earnings) is considered ‘preserved’.

This means that you cannot access it until you reach a particular 'preservation' age and you have retired from the workforce.

Superannuation benefits fall into three categories:

  1. Preserved
  2. Restricted non-preserved, and
  3. Unrestricted non-preserved.

These categories are explained below:

1. Preserved benefits

These must be retained in a fund until your retirement.

Since 1 July 1999, all contributions and fund earnings, regardless of their source, are preserved within the superannuation system until you retire. Government regulations set out a minimum age for the release of benefits, known as the preservation age. Your preservation age depends on your date of birth (see table below):

Date of birthPreservation age
Before 1/7/6055
1/7/60 – 30/6/6156
1/7/61 – 30/6/6257
1/7/62 – 30/6/6358
1/7/63 – 30/6/6459
After 30/6/6460

2. Restricted non-preserved benefits

These benefits cannot be withdrawn (cashed in) until you cease employment with the employer who contributed them.

If you had an arrangement with an employer to contribute super for you before 1 July 1999, you may have benefits which are classified as non-preserved. So long as you are employed by that same organisation, access to that benefit is restricted and cannot be paid. After you stop being employed by that organisation, then these contributions become unrestricted and can be paid out to you.

3. Unrestricted non-preserved benefits

These benefits can generally be paid out upon request.

Unrestricted non-preserved benefits are those to which no payment restrictions apply. Provided that the fund allows the payment, these benefits can be paid out to you on request, irrespective of your age, employment situation or financial position. These are generally benefits that you have already become entitled to receive but have voluntarily decided to keep within the superannuation system.

Conditions of early release

There are certain exceptional circumstances where you can apply for an early release of your preserved and restricted non-preserved benefits. Only in the specific circumstances detailed below, can we release your superannuation benefit early.

Small amounts

If you have less than $200 in your super fund and are no longer employed by the organisation that was making those contributions, you can apply to have your benefit paid out (less any applicable taxation).

Severe financial hardship

To be eligible for release of your benefit on the grounds of severe financial hardship, you will need to meet the following conditions:

Aged under 55 years and 39 weeks?

  • Be receiving a qualifying Commonwealth income support benefit for a period of 26 continuous weeks, and
  • Satisfy the Trustee (us) that you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.

Aged over 55 years and 39 weeks?

  • Be receiving a Commonweatlh income support for a cumulative period of 39 weeks after reaching your preservation age,and
  • Not be gainfully employed on either a full-time or part-time basis when making your application.

There are limits on how much and how often you may claim due to severe financial hardship. Please note your benefit payments may also be taxed.

Please contact us for further information on 1300 130 780.

Compassionate grounds

In very specific circumstances, you can apply to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to have your benefit or part thereof released on compassionate grounds. While DHS must be satisfied that the application meets the criteria for early release, the final decision rests with the Trustee. Grounds under which DHS will consider an application include situations where you or your dependants incur costs for:

  • Medical treatment
  • Medical transport
  • Funeral assistance
  • Palliative care
  • Modifications to your house or car due to severe disability, or
  • Preventing foreclosure on your mortgage or home.

You should contact DHS directly on 1300 131 060 if you have any questions.

Permanent incapacity

Your benefit can be paid out if you become totally and permanently incapacitated.

To have your benefit released early, you will need to provide us with medical certification from two different doctors (one must be a specialist) stating that you are Totally and Permanently Disabled, and in the opinion of the treating doctor, unlikely to ever work again in a job for which you are reasonably educated, trained or experienced. This medical certification does not automatically provide for payment of insurance claims.

If you have also taken out Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) insurance you will need to contact us before making a Total and Permanent Disablement claim.

Non-residents leaving Australia

If you’ve worked and earned super while visiting Australia on a temporary visa, you can apply to have this super paid to you after you leave. Find out what to do with your super when you're leaving Australia.