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Early access to super

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Key point

  • You may be able to have early access to your superannuation under certain circumstances

Your personal contributions paid up to July 1999 can be paid to you when you leave a super fund. However your post-June 1999 contributions and employer contributions must usually stay in a fund until you reach retirement (after age 55 or up to age 60). This is called your “preserved super”.


Early access

You can get early access to your preserved super in some circumstances:

a. you‘ve been on Centrelink payments for at least 6 months and can’t pay your living expenses (you can get up to $10,000 per annum)

b. you’re over the minimum retirement age (55-60), have been on Centrelink payments for 9 months and won’t be going back to regular work (you can get all your super)

c. you’re over the minimum retirement age (55-60) and still working (you can take out an annuity or pension)

d. you need money to pay for palliative care, funeral expenses, modifications to your home or car, or medical and transport expenses for treatment outside the public health system for you or a dependent (you can get enough to cover the expenses)

e. for loan repayments to prevent the sale of your home (you can get up to 3 months repayments plus 12 months interest every 12 months)

f. you are permanently incapacitated for work (you can get all your super)

g. if you have a terminal illness with less than 24 months to live (you can get all your account balance, tax free)

h. the preserved amount is no more than $200 i. you’re a temporary resident and permanently leave Australia (you can get all your super minus tax).


How to make early access applications

Applications under (a) to (c) opposite are made to your super fund and you’ll need a letter from Centrelink (called a “Q230”).

Applications under (d) and (e) opposite must be made to the Commonwealth Department of Human Services (Medicare). Application forms are available on their website. (www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/early-release-superannuation). You’ll have to show them the expenses and that you can’t pay for them.

Applications under (f) and (g) opposite can be made to the super fund and you’ll need two medical certificates which specify that you’re permanently incapacitated or suffer a terminal illness (as defined). With a terminal illness application, one of the certificates must be from a relevant specialist.

Applications under (g) opposite can be made to the super fund.

Applications under (i) above can be made online via the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).


Important note

You might have a separate claim for super disability insurance benefits as well as your contributions. These insurances can sometimes include monthly payments while you’re unable to work, or a one-off lump sum if you’re unlikely to return to the work you’re educated, trained or experienced in.

Get advice before applying for your super.

This information was prepared in January 2015. It is only a general guide to legal, superannuation and financial issues and is not a substitute for professional advice in these areas.


Where to get help

  • Your doctor

  • Legal adviser

  • Your super fund

  • MOVE muscle, bone & joint health
    National Help Line: 1800 263 265


Things to remember

  • You may be able to have early access to your superannuation under certain circumstances


How we can help

Call our National Help Line and speak to our nurses.

Phone 1800 263 265 or email helpline@move.org.au



More to explore

Produced in partnership with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Download a PDF of this information.