Accessing Your Super
Tomorrows super, today
In most cases you cannot access your super until you reach your 'preservation age', however there are extenuating circumstances whereby you can access your super if you satisfy a 'condition of release'. Satisfying a condition of release means your preserved benefits can be paid to you.
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Superannuation trustees may release preserved benefits on the grounds of severe financial hardship if a member:
- Is in receipt of a Commonwealth income support payment, and has continuously received the payment for the last 26 weeks; and
- Satisfies the trustee that he/she is unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.
If you are aged 55 years and 39 weeks or more, an alternative test of severe financial hardship may be applied. You must:
- Have received a Commonwealth income support payment for a cumulative period of 39 weeks after reaching age 55; and
- Not be gainfully employed on a full-time or part-time basis on the date of your application to the trustee.
Commonwealth income support payments include social security or service pensions; certain social security benefits; income support supplements; drought relief payments; exceptional circumstances relief payments; and Commonwealth Development Employment Projects (CDEP) Scheme payments.
If a member satisfies one of the above tests, the Trustee may, in any 12 month period, release one lump sum payment. The lump sum payment may not be more than a gross amount of $10,000 and no less than $1,000 (or the balance of the member's benefit if it is less than $1,000). If you cannot gain early access to your superannuation benefits on severe financial hardship grounds, you may consider asking the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to approve the release of some or all of your benefit on specified compassionate grounds.
There are only very limited circumstances where benefits may be released on specified compassionate grounds. These are defined in Regulations and cover expenses in respect of:
- Medical treatment for the member or his/her dependant where the treatment is necessary to treat a life threatening illness or injury, or to alleviate acute or chronic pain or acute or chronic mental disturbance, and where such treatment is not readily available through the public health system.
- Medical transport for the member or his/her dependant to access treatment necessary to treat a life threatening illness or injury, or to alleviate acute or chronic pain or acute or chronic mental disturbance;
- Modification to the family home and/or vehicle to meet the special needs of a disabled member or his/her disabled dependant; or
- Palliative care or death, funeral, or burial expenses for a member or his/her dependant.
In addition, it is possible to have an amount released to a member to prevent foreclosure of a mortgage, or exercise of a power of sale over the member's principal place of residence.
The legislation also allows the ATO to assess applications for early release of benefits where the circumstances are consistent with, or in direct relationship to, the specified compassionate grounds (prior to 1 July 2018, this was administered by the Department of Human Services).