26 March, 2021

Accessing your super early

Super is designed to help you save for your retirement, so there are strict rules about how and when you can access it.

Under normal circumstances, you can’t access your super until you:

  • have reached your preservation age (55–60 years old, depending on your date of birth) and have stopped working
  • are age 60 or over and have stopped working
  • are age 65 or over, whether working or not
  • die (in which case your super goes to your beneficiaries)

However, there are some specific circumstances when may be able to access part or all your super early. Common scenarios include:

  • Permanent incapacity — if you're unable to work due to an injury or illness
  • Severe financial hardship — if you have received Centrelink benefits for a certain period but still can’t meet immediate living expenses
  • Compassionate grounds — to pay for palliative care, funeral costs or to prevent foreclosure or forced sale of your residence
  • Terminal illness — if you have an illness or injury likely to result in death within two years

You may also be able to access your super early if you are permanently leaving Australia or have less than $200 in your account.

Things to consider

To access super early, you will need to meet certain eligibility criteria, depending on why you want to access your super.

You will also need to provide appropriate details and documentation with your application, such as medical certificates.

Most importantly, accessing your super early means you will have less money in retirement. Generally, it should only be considered under extraordinary circumstances and not used as a short-term fix to immediate financial problems.

Regardless of how and when you access your super, you should always get advice from a licensed financial adviser first. It’s also a good idea to call your fund before making any decisions. They can let you know your options and the steps involved.