What Happens To My Super If I Stop Working?

Wondering what happens to your super when you stop working?

Superannuation is a vehicle designed to help you save towards retirement and cover expenses when you decide to stop working.

You might associate superannuation with the place that your employer makes compulsory superannuation guarantee (SG) contributions to, as shown on your payslip.

However, it is also possible to make voluntary contributions, such as non-concessional contributions, salary sacrifice contributions or personal concessional contributions into super.

In a nutshell, the incentive of putting money into superannuation is the tax concessions on certain contributions and tax savings on earnings, compared to investing in your own name.

The downside is that you can’t access your super until you reach a certain age.

How to Manage Your Super Without Paying a Financial Adviser

Download our 6-step checklist & take control of your super

What Happens To My Super If I Stop Working?

A superannuation account consists of two phases: Accumulation Phase and Pension Phase.

Generally, while you are working, all of your superannuation will be in accumulation phase.

When you stop working, you can then convert your superannuation to pension phase and draw an income to assist in covering retirement expenses, provided you have reached your superannuation preservation age.

Accumulation phase is an account that is able to accept any type of contribution.

Your account balance is invested in the way that you have decided to invest it.

Have You Read My Other Posts Yet?

What happens to your super if you stop working is that the balance continues to remain invested.

The only difference, presumably, is that no employer contributions will be made to the account.

Also, if you have salary continuance insurance cover within your account, you may no longer be covered for this, as it generally requires you to be working to be eligible for a benefit.

If you are self-employed, there will be no change to your super.

Whether you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or not working, there is nothing stopping you from making voluntary contributions into your superannuation account.

The only restrictions on super contributions are work test requirements when over age 65, age limits on certain contributions and the contribution caps.

I have shown a few superannuation examples here of the different types of contributions.

You are not required to convert your accumulation account to pension phase once you stop working. Your account balance can remain in accumulation phase indefinitely.

You can even make lump sum withdrawals from your accumulation account, provided you meet certain conditions.

Need advice on how to reach your financial goals?

Chat to one of our expert advisors to see how we can help you.


What Happens To My Super If I Am Unemployed?

Again, there will be no change to your super if you are unemployed, apart from the fact that you won’t have an employer making contributions into your account; and any salary continuance cover may no longer be valid.

You will generally not lose any superannuation as a result of being unemployed.

Unemployed Super Contributions

If you are unemployed, you will not be receiving any employer SGC; however, you do have the ability to make voluntary non-concessional or concessional contributions to your account.

You should always consider the contribution caps prior to making any contributions and determine if there are any contribution restrictions due to your age.

Defined Benefit Scheme (Not Working/Unemployed)

If you have a defined benefit superannuation scheme, whereby your benefit is calculated on a multiple of your salary, years of service, etc. then your final benefit may be impacted by the fact that you are not working.

What To Do With Superannuation When Not Working


Intending On Returning To Work

If you have temporarily stopped working and plan on returning to work, you may consider using this an opportunity to review your superannuation account by comparing it with other superannuation funds available and/or the investments that your balance is invested in.

Your comparison of superannuation funds might include a review of fees, available investment options and features.

You might also review any life insurances held within your account and your superannuation death benefit nominations.

There is nothing else that you really need to do with your superannuation when not working. Your balance will continue to be invested.

Have You Read My Other Posts Yet?

If you have spare income or savings, you may consider making additional contributions to super to reduce the risk of fees and insurance premiums eroding your super balance.

If you do return to work, you will generally have the ability to nominate your existing superannuation fund as the fund that you would like your new employer to make employer SG contributions to.

If you have reached your superannuation preservation age, you may consider using some or all of your super accumulation balance to start a transition to retirement (TTR) income stream.

Not Intending On Returning To Work

If you do not intend on returning to work and have reached your superannuation preservation age, you might consider starting an account based pension.

Alternatively, you can simply leave your superannuation savings in accumulation phase.

The main difference between accumulation phase and pension phase is the difference in tax rates applied to investment earnings and the requirement to receive minimum pension income payments from a pension account.

Super Eaten By Fees

If you are concerned that your super will be eaten by fees, you should ensure that you understand the fees associated with your superannuation fund.

Fees are an inevitable part of holding a superannuation account. However, fees can differ significantly between superannuation providers.

To find out the fees charged by your superannuation fund and others, you should read the super fund’s Product Disclosure Statement, which can usually be obtained from their website, or by contacting the superannuation fund directly.

Chris Strano

Hi, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you want my team and I to help with your retirement planning, click here. If you prefer a DIY approach, then check out the SuperGuy HUB. Thanks for stopping by - Chris.

More Posts




  1. Jodie Duong


    I’m trying to look for my mum’s super. She is retired and has no idea what fund she was with. We have check the ATO and they don’t have any accounts linked to them. What is the best way to search?

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Jodie,
      Submitting this form to the ATO is generally the best way to find lost super. Super funds are required to notify the ATO if they have been unable to contact you or not received any contributions in the last 5 years.
      If you have already done this, consider contacting your mums previous employer. They will be required to have record of which super fund her super was paid to. Then you can contact the super fund. You could even try looking at her previous pay slips to see if it is stated on there.

  2. Al

    I have been unemployed on a pension for some time and have lost all my super due to fees. Is there any thing I do can about this?

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Al, you should be able to make a complaint through the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal https://www.sct.gov.au/ if you feel you have been treated unjustly

    • Branton Henkel

      Hi I worked for two business’s in the mid 90’s early 2000’s. Both are no longer around. I paid alot of super into one of them, but have no idea what fund it was. ATO have no records at all . I don’t know what to do.

      • Chris Strano

        Hi Branton,
        If your super fund has been unable to contact you or has not received contributions in the past 5 years, they would need to report it as lost super and the ATO would have record of it.
        I’m not sure what you can do other than search through any old documents you have to try to find record of the name of the fund you were contributing to.

  3. Susan

    Hi,Hope you can help, I got a lump sum of my super to pay my mortgage as I’m 60 digned declaration to say i wont work coz I’m retiring unfortunately im having trouble with not enough money to live on. Was wondering what would happen if i worked more than 10 hrs a week?

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Susan,
      If you signed the declaration that you have reached your preservation age and have no intention of returning to work, then you should still be able to return to work, provided your intention at the time was genuine.
      If you signed a declaration stating that you have ceased an employment arrangement after reaching age 60, then there is nothing stopping you returning to work.
      Related Posts
      Definition of Retirement for superannuation
      Can I Access My Super at 60 and Still Work?

  4. Jacqui Warner

    Hi Chris, my son has just received a bill from a superfund for over $870- An Appreticeship Co he was with for 6 mths before Company folded could not get him into another Apprenticeship. The Super he had I’m assuming is now long gone shouldn’t that fund stop collecting their premiums once the balance was zero? He is only 17. He doesn’t have the money to give them.

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Jacqui, I’m not entireley sure what the bill is for. Is it for super fees or insurance premiums? Either way, I don’t see why he would need to pay the super fund. He does, however, need to understand that failure to pay insurance premiums will likely result in the insurance policies being cancelled. You may want to contact the superannuation complatins tribunal if he is being pressured into paying super fees without having a balance https://www.sct.gov.au/

  5. Louise

    Hi , I retired at age 58 in order to become a carer for my elderly mother . I had reached preservation age and withdrew my super in order to purchase a car suitable for her .
    I am currently receiving carers pension .
    What are the tax implications for having withdrawn this super ?
    Also I have just received a family law split super which I have placed in my original fund , can I make contributions to this even though I am not working ?
    Advice appreciated . Thankyou

  6. Belle

    Hi Chris

    I have a query as to what I should do in regards My Super. I am now for the past 5 years become a full time Carer Giver for my elderly mother who is in her mid 80’s. I have been informed by BT super that I must take out an Insurance policy from the 1st of July 2019 for them to cover the policy. My question is ‘Is this legal’ If I don’t pay this Insurance coverage I could/will loose my Super. As I am in my mid 50’s can I actually make my super a transition to a pension super.

  7. Maria

    Hi Chris,

    I have bought a unit as my first home but after a couple of years I am thinking of renting it out.Would I be able to deposit my rental income into my (voluntary)super? Will I be required to pay tax on this contribution?

    Many thanks

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Maria,
      Rent paid on a property owned in your personal name will need to be paid into a bank account in your name first – before contributing to super. The rent will be assessed at your individual tax rate. You can then contribute the rent to super if you like, as either a concessional or non-concessional contribution, subject to the contribution caps, your age (no age restriction if under 65) and your total superannuation balance (no issue if balance under $1.6M). Concessional contributions can provide you with a tax deduction equal to the contribution amount which, in essence, can offset the taxable rental income. However, concessional contributions generally incur contributions tax of 15%.
      Related Posts:
      Concessional vs Non-Concessional Contributions
      Concessional Contribution Cap
      Non-Concessional Contribution Cap

  8. Jane

    Hi Chris,

    I stop working for 2 years and MLC super is asking me to reinstate and keep my insurance as I was inactive otherwise, it will be cancelled. I will not be working for quite sometime and I have few questions:
    1. Is my super fund going to be lost?
    2. Do I need to reinstate my insurance?
    3. I believe there will be deductions if I reinstate my insurance cause I’m not contributing to my super. Is this true?
    4. Is it advisable to cancel my insurance for time being?


    • Chris Strano

      Hi Jane,
      1. No one can take your super away from you. It is only considered lost if your super fund loses contact with you for several years. But then they must pass it on to the regulator who gets in contact with you.
      2. You do not have to re-instate your insurance, but it can be difficult to get insurance in the future if you let this policy lapse.
      3. All insurance cover has premiums that you must pay, just like car insurance, house insurance, etc. The life insurances within your super also charge premiums. If you re-instate your insurance, the premiums will be deducted from your super balance. This is normal. If you do not want your super balance to erode due to premiums, you might consider making super contributions into the account equal to the insurance premium amount.
      4. I am only able to provie you with general information on here and cannot provide personal advice as to whether or not you need this insurance. Keep in mind though, if you cancel insurance it may be difficult to obtain in the future due to an increase in age or potential changes to your health. Also, you need to think about the financial impact on you/your family if you suffered an insurable event and did not have appropriate cover.
      Hope this helps,

  9. Rachael

    Hi Chris!

    As a stay at home Mum, what amount of money would you recommend I put into my super per week (I have recently started up my own business as well)

    Thank you,

  10. Bruce

    Hello Chris,
    I’m over 60 and can access my super but I can’t get the pension till I’m 67, so I need to keep working for a bit longer.
    I will receive an inheritance later this yr of around 100k and would like to put it straight into my super.
    1) Will this still be taxes at 15%.
    2) If needed can I access that 100k at any time
    Thanks in advance.

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Bruce,
      Thanks for your enquiry.
      You can make concessional or non-concessional contributions to super. Concessional contributions generally incur 15% on entry (and can reduce your personal tax); whereas non-concessional contributions enter your super fund tax free (but do not reduce your personal tax). Without knowing your situation, I’m not sure which type/ratio of contributions would suit you best.
      If you are still working, you can have limited access to your super if required. Depending on your employment situation, you may be able to have full access. Unfortunately I cannot provide you with more definitive answers without knowing your situation.
      Hope this helps,
      Related Posts
      Concessional vs Non-Concessional Contributions
      Can I Access My Super at 60 and Still Work

  11. Cooper

    Hi Chris,
    I am 40 and came to Australia 6 years ago and am a citizen now. However due to some circumstances I will leave Australia for good and may never return. So,
    1) I have accumulated some super after working for 6 yrs (approx 40K). Once I leave Australia, what will happen to it as there will be no deposits of any sorts.
    2) Will I get anything once I reach 65 years of age?
    3) Someone said I have to pay a $50 pm fine if my super becomes 0. Is it True?
    4) Can I withdraw it when I leave Australia or What is the best way to deal with the situation?

    Many Thanks in Advance as I cannot find the answers anywhere.

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Cooper,
      The answer to your questions depend on your type of super account. For the purposes of this, I will assume you have a standard super accumulation account.
      1. your super will continue to be invested in the investment option you have chosen. This should prodice long-term returns in excess of the fees associated. However, any personal insurances held within the account may deduct premiums from your super balance. Sometimes you get automatic insurance cover within super, but ut s not compulsory.
      2. Once you reach age 65 you should have unrestricted access to your super balance. Your super balance will be whatever it is now, plus any earnings between now and 65, minus any account fees, minus any insurance premiums.
      3. I have never heard of this and I would be extremely surprised if its true, but you should ask your super fund, as it would be super fund specific, but unlikely.
      4. You generally need to wait until you meet a superannuation condition of release before accessing your super, such as retirement after age 60 or reaching age 65.
      Related Posts
      When Can I Access My Super?

  12. Lisa

    Hi Chris I will be unemployed as of January 2020 and still have 3 years before I reach preservation age to access my super. Can I roll my super balance into my husbands superfund?

  13. Nina

    Hi Chris,
    I am currently unemployed after the birth of my son and will be out of work for the next 2 years.
    I am currently with Australian super and have three insurances with them
    Death Cover
    Total & Permanent Disablement cover
    Income Protection

    Currently since I am not working should I cancel my insurances to stop eroding my super balance because I believe the insurances are only valid if I am working or am I still covered while I am unemployed.


    • Chris Strano

      Hi Nina,
      Generally, death cover is not employment related, TPD may be employment related, and Income Protection is employment related. Cancelling insurances will ensure premiums stop being deducted from your account; however, you need to be aware that it could be difficult to obtain new cover in the future if there are any changes to your health. In saying that, many super funds offer automatic acceptance cover and do not require you to perform medical tests when applying for cover. I would suggest contacting Australian Super and asking them if you can automatically re-instate your cover when/if you return to work. Obviously cancelling cover means you will receive no benefit should you suffer an insurable event. Think carefully before cancelling.
      Enjoy these special times with your new son!

  14. Karen ernst

    Hi I’m 63 years currently working 5 days per fortnight and I get a top up with centrelink.if I leave can I access my super and live off that until I reach 67 and retire.

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Karen,
      To gain full access to your super, you need to meet a superannuation condition of release, which includes ‘having an employment arrangment come to an end after reaching age 60’, or ‘retiring with no intention of returning to work on a full-time or part-time basis’.
      Related Posts
      Retirement Rules for Over 60s

  15. Peter

    Hi Chris, Keeping well ?

    I had a look at my super today and its gone down from the same time last year.
    I’am not working so not contributing to the super as i am living off my investment property, trying to self fund my retirement.
    I thought the super fund should be still making money as it is still investing the money as the previous year, just wondering if the Covid had anything to do with it all tho the Covid didn’t start till 6 months into the start of the financials year so the super fund should have made something ??
    Surely the fees wouldn’t be over 7K !!

    • Chris Strano

      Hi Peter,
      I am keeping well thank you! I hope you are too.
      It all depends on how your super is invested. Many super funds, with a high allocation to shares may have seen drops of up to 30%, which is more than what would have been earned in the first 6 months of the financial year. Sharemarkets have recovered somewhat from the lows in March, but many are still down. The drop of your balance is relative based on your account balance. For example $7,000 on a $1M balance isn’t overly significant, but is on a $100,000 balance. Try to equate the drop in $ value as a percentage of where your balance was at the beginning of the year for better perspective. Super fund fees will generally be around 0.2% – 1% p.a. of your account balance, depending on which fund you are with and the investment options chosen.
      Hope this helps.

  16. Clive

    Hi Chris hope u have an awesome new year
    I am aged 55 now and been put off work due to the COVID pandemic Since may 2020
    And have no intention of going back to work due to medical issues with my health ! Would I be able to access my $180000 super as a lump sum to pay for my living expenses .


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *