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:
This is the most common condition of release. Super funds usually require a retirement declaration verifying that an individual has retired.
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.
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.
Individuals can get some of their superannuation back if they satisfy the conditions that constitute the government’s view of ‘severe financial hardship’.
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.
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’.
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.