When can you access your superannuation savings?

Accessing your superannuation is an area that needs to be approached with caution.

There are strict rules in place as to when you are able to withdraw your retirement savings.

Penalties are imposed on members and/or trustees for early access to superannuation savings.

Accessing Superannuation is possible once you meet a superannuation ‘Condition of Release’.  There are a variety of Conditions of Releases, however the most common are:

Another, less commonly used  Condition of Release is:

  • Ceasing an employment arrangement after age 60 (this forms part of the definition of ‘Retirement’)

This article explains the above Conditions of Release in more detail and provides further examples of the other conditions not mentioned above.

ACCESSING SUPERANNUATION

Preserved and non-preserved benefits

PRESERVED

Any contributions made into a members account after 30 June 1999 are considered Preserved Benefits. A Condition of Release must be met in order to access these benefits.

RESTRICTED NON-PRESERVED

A Condition of Release specific to certain contributions made prior to 30 June 1999 (or employer ETP rollovers made prior to 1 July 2004) must be met in order to access these benefits. Restricted Non-Preserved benefits are usually employment related benefits. The Condition of Release associated with these types of benefits will generally be ceasing employment with the employer who made the contributions.

UNRESTRICTED NON-PRESERVED

These benefits do not require a Condition of Release to be met. All Unrestricted Non-Preserved benefits are available for withdrawal by the member at any time. This is because a Condition of Release relating to these benefits has previously been met and the member has knowingly or unknowingly decided to leave this amount in their superannuation account.

Accessing Superannuation

Preservation Age

Your superannuation Preservation Ageis generally the age that you are able to begin accessing superannuation. Usually your work status will determine the level of access you have to the benefits.

Your Preservation Age is dependent on the year you were born, as detailed in the table below:

Date of Birth Preservation Age
Prior to 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
After 30 June 1964 60

Accessing Superannuation – Conditions of Release

Conditions of Release include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Retirement
  • Death
  • Terminal Medical Condition
  • Permanent Incapacity
  • Benefits less than $200
  • Severe Financial Hardship
  • Attaining age 65
  • Compassionate Ground
  • Temporary Incapacity
  • Attaining Preservation Age

You can find a comprehensive list of Conditions of Release can be found in Schedule 1 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations Act 1994

This is a very complex area of superannuation law . There are severe penalties for unauthorised access to your superannuation savings. It is highly recommended that you discuss your options with the administrator of your superannuation fund and obtain personal advice from a professional superannuation adviser (such as a Financial Planner, Accountant or qualified superannuation specialist) prior to accessing superannuation.

Read this article to see how you can access your superannuation while still working.

Early access to benefits

Early access to superannuation benefits includes terminal medical condition, compassionate grounds and permanent incapacity. Very strict conditions must be met to satisfy these early access options.

The ATO warns that accessing superannuation early is illegal and that you should be wary of promoters claiming to be able to help you access your retirement benefits for reasons such as purchasing a home, car, holiday, or simply to alleviate your financial problems.

If you would like anything clarified or have any further questions in relation to Accessing Superannuation or any other topics, please do not hesitate to leave a comment in the section below.

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Chris Strano

Chris Strano is a specialist independent superannuation author for SuperGuy.com.au - one of Australia's leading superannuation information resources.

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