When Can You Access Your Superannuation?

During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, many Australians took advantage of the early access to their super that was a part of the financial support options offered by the government during COVID-19, and withdrew amounts to assist themselves.

If individuals and sole traders had suffered financial hardship of at least 20 per cent due to loss of work or hours, they could access up to $10,000 from their retirement savings in the 2019-20 financial year. They could also access a further $10,000 during the second round of the scheme from 1 July 2020 – 31 December 2020.

This scheme has long since closed, and Australians can now only access the funds within their superannuation fund under certain circumstances. Any other time could come with significant ramifications. Remember that the following are only accessible during these circumstances – any other method of accessing your super could be illegal/non-compliant and have issues.

Access On Compassionate Grounds

Compassionate grounds include needing money to pay for:

  • Medical treatment and medical transport for you or your dependant
  • Palliative care for you or your dependant
  • Making a payment on a home loan or council rates so you don’t lose your home
  • Accommodating a disability for you or your dependant
  • Expenses associated with the death, funeral or burial of your dependant

Access Due To Severe Financial Hardship

This is not grounds administered by the ATO but rather by your super provider, who must be contacted to request access to your super due to severe financial hardship.

You may be able to withdraw some of your super if you meet both these conditions:

  • You have received eligible government income support payments continuously for 26 weeks
  • You are not able to meet your reasonable and immediate family living expenses.

You can withdraw between $1,000 and $10,000, but only once in any 12-month period.

Access Due To A Terminal Medical Condition

A terminal medical condition may allow you to access your super if these conditions are met that prove its existence:

  • Two registered medical practitioners have certified, jointly or separately, that you suffer from an illness that is likely to result in death within 24 months of signing the certificate
  • At least one of the registered medical practitioners is a specialist practising in an area related to your illness or injury
  • The 24-month certification period has not ended

Access Due To Temporary Incapacity

If you are temporarily unable to work or need to work fewer hours because of mental health or physical condition, you may be able to access your super. This condition of release is generally used to access insurance benefits linked to your super account. Super payments will be received regularly over the time that you are unable to work.

Access Due To Permanent Incapacity

This method of access is sometimes called a disability super benefit, and access to your super through this method generally occurs if you are permanently incapacitated. You must have a permanent physical or mental medical condition that is likely to stop you from ever working again in a job you were qualified to do by education, training or experience.

It can be received as either a lump sum or as regular payments (income stream)

Super Less Than $200

In the instance where your employment is terminated, and the balance of your super account is less than $200, or you have found a “lost super” account with a balance of less than $200, you may be able to access your super.

First Home Super Saver Scheme

Applying for the release of voluntary concessional and voluntary non-concessional contributions that you have made to your super fund since 1 July 2017 to help save for your first home is a valid reason for the early release of super.

You will have to meet eligibility requirements to apply for the release of these amounts. Under the First Home Super Saver Scheme, you can apply for a release of a maximum of $15,000 of your voluntary contributions from any one financial year, up to a total of $30,000 (but this amount is due to increase to $50,000 following an announcement in the May 2021 budget).

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