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Accessing your super early

While you generally can’t access your super until retirement, there are some specific circumstances where the law allows you to draw on your super early.

These conditions can be summarised as:

  • Compassionate grounds
  • Terminal medical condition
  • Permanent incapacity
  • Severe financial hardship
  • Super less than $200

Also, you may be eligible for early access to your super under temporary new measures introduced by the Federal Government. These are relief measures to help deal with the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.  Find out more at ato.gov.au

Before applying to access your super under early release provisions, please speak to your financial adviser or contact us

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) – early release of super

You may be able to access your super under temporary measures introduced by the Government to help you deal with the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

If eligible, you can withdraw up to a $10,000 lump sum from your super before 1 July 2020 and up to a further $10,000 lump sum between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020. You can only make one application for each financial year.

If you chose to withdraw a lump sum figure below the $10,000 you cannot reapply to withdraw the difference. For example, if you withdraw $4,000 you cannot submit a further application to withdraw the remaining $6,000.

You’re eligible to apply for early release of your super under the temporary coronavirus condition of release if:

  • you’re unemployed, or
  • you’re eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment, special benefit or farm household allowance, or
  • on or after 1 January 2020:
  • your role was made redundant, or
  • your working hours have been reduced by 20% or more, or
  • if you’re a sole trader— your business has been suspended or has suffered a reduction in turnover of 20% or more.

Temporary residents are ineligible to apply for COVID-19 early release of super for the 2020-2021 financial year.

Applications for COVID-19 early release of the super need to be made directly to the ATO through your myGov account. The government has said any lump-sum paid to a person on COVID-19 compassionate grounds will not be taxed.

Strict timeframes apply for early access applications under COVID-19 compassionate grounds - all applications must be made directly to the ATO by 30 June 2020 for the financial year 2019-20 and by 31 December 2020 for the financial year 2020-21.

Compassionate grounds

You may be able to access your superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds where you don’t have the financial capacity to meet certain unpaid expenses, including:

  • medical treatment for you or a dependant
  • modifications to your home or transport, or disability aids required because of a severe disability suffered by you or a dependant
  • mortgage payments or assistance to prevent the forced sale of your residential home
  • palliative care expenses for yourself or a dependant, or
  • expenses associated with the death, funeral or burial of a dependant.

Applications for early release of super need to be made to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Before making an application, you should confirm that your super fund is able to make payments approved under compassionate grounds.

Terminal medical condition

You may be able to access your super if you’re suffering from a terminal medical condition. You’ll be viewed as suffering a terminal medical condition if two registered medical practitioners certify that you suffer from an illness or injury that is likely to result in your death within 24 months. At least one of these medical practitioners must specialise in a field related to your illness or injury.

If you satisfy this condition of release, you can access the balance of your superannuation account at this time as well as any further benefits accrued within a period of 24 months.

Lump-sum payments released under this condition are tax-free within 24 months of certification.

Permanent incapacity

You may be able to access your super if you become permanently incapacitated.

You should check with your super fund to confirm what evidence is needed to satisfy this condition of release, as processes vary between funds. Generally, one or two registered medical practitioners will need to certify that due to your ill-health (physical or mental) you’re unlikely to engage in gainful employment for which you are reasonably qualified by education, training or experience.

If you satisfy this condition of release, you can withdraw all or part of your super as a lump-sum payment or use it to commence a superannuation income stream.

Severe financial hardship

You may be able to access your super if you’re having difficulty meeting reasonable and immediate family living expenses and you're receiving eligible Commonwealth income support payments.

If you’re under preservation age, you must have received Commonwealth income support payments for a continuous period of 26 weeks and be receiving these payments at the time of application. (You’ll need a letter from Services Australia confirming this.)

You’ll need to satisfy your super fund that you’re unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses – ask your fund to confirm what’s needed to verify this.

You’re only able to receive one payment in any consecutive 12-month period.

The minimum payment before tax is $1,000 (or the balance of your super after tax  if you have less than $1,000) and the maximum payment is $10,000.

If you have reached your preservation age plus 39 weeks, you must have received Commonwealth income support for a cumulative period of 26 weeks since reaching preservation age and not be gainfully employed on a full or part-time basis at the time of application.

You’ll need a letter from Services Australia confirming receipt of income support, and there’s no limit on the amount that can be released. This is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum i.e. if you are over 60 years old you will not be taxed but under 60 years old is generally taxed between 17% - 22%.

Important information

AMP Life Limited ABN 84 079 300 379, AFSL No. 233671 (AMP Life), has proudly served customers in Australia since 1849. AMP Limited ABN 49 079 354 519 (AMP Limited) has sold AMP Life to the Resolution Life group whilst retaining a minority economic interest. AMP Limited has no day-to-day involvement in the management of AMP Life whose products and services are not affiliated with or guaranteed by AMP Limited. AMP Limited is not liable for products issued by AMP Life or any statements or representations made in the PDS or policy document for those products. “AMP”, “AMP Life” and any other AMP trademarks are used by AMP Life under licence from AMP Limited.

Any advice and information on this website is general in nature and is provided by AMP Life, which is part of the Resolution Life group. The advice does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, before acting on the advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to those matters as well as the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or policy document, available from AMP Life at amplife.com.au or by calling 133 731, before making a decision about the product. Consider speaking to a financial adviser if you have any concerns.

If you decide to purchase or vary a financial product, AMP Life and/or other companies within the Resolution Life group will receive fees and other benefits, which will be a dollar amount or a percentage of either the premium they pay or the value of their investments. You can ask us for more details.

AMP Life is part of the Resolution Life group and can be contacted on 133 731 or via the contact us page.