When Can I Access Superannuation Early?

Posted on 13 February '23 by , under super.

Accessing your superannuation early is a short-term strategy Australians facing financial troubles can use to buy temporary financial protection.

However, there are limited circumstances when individuals can access their super savings early, and in most cases, individuals cannot withdraw their superannuation until they reach their preservation age and retire.

To access super early, Australians must first satisfy a condition of release, which allows immediate access to an individual’s preserved benefits, provided the rules of their fund allows early super withdrawals. Some conditions of release include, but are not limited to:

Retirement

This is the most common condition of release. Super funds usually require a retirement declaration verifying that an individual has retired.

Reaching Preservation Age

As soon as an individual reaches their preservation age they can withdraw their entire superannuation benefit, even if they haven’t retired (and don’t plan to retire) from the workforce.

Starting A Transition-to-retirement Pension

Individuals can access a portion of their benefits each year by starting a super pension without retiring. This only works, however, if an individual has reached their preservation age and withdraws less than 10 per cent of the account balance each year.

Severe Financial Hardship

Individuals can get some of their superannuation back if they satisfy the conditions that constitute the government’s view of ‘severe financial hardship’.

Compassionate grounds

If an individual suffers from a life-threatening illness or has fallen behind in overdue loan repayments before retiring, their super fund can release part or all of their preserved benefits. Individuals can also apply for early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds to pay for funeral or medical expenses, or palliative care.

Permanent Disability or Incapacity

If an individual suffers from a chronic illness or serious disability, they may be able to claim on a total and permanent disability insurance policy. Individuals should check with their super fund first for the terms and conditions of insurance policies. Individuals may also access super benefits early if they suffer ‘permanent incapacity’.

Temporary Incapacity

An individual’s super fund may automatically provide income protection insurance, or an individual may be able to apply for such insurance via the superannuation fund. Those who suffer from a prolonged illness or disability can access this insurance coverage and receive a regular income for up to two years.