Superannuation is a way of saving for your retirement.
Due to it being for this very specific purpose, there are lots of rules around accessing your super. Let’s have a look at when you can access your super:
You are 65 years old
If you’ve turned 65, you can access your super, even if you’re still working.
Being at least 65 means you can access all the super you’ve built up to this point plus any future contributions that go into your super in the future. It is all completely accessible to you.
You are considered to be “retired”
There are specific definitions for the meaning of ‘retire’ under super legislation.
1.You are at least 60 years old and you have terminated an employment arrangement
- This can mean that you end working at your one and only current job. The classic idea of retirement!
- It can also be that you end your employment with one job to start working at another job.
- Or it can be that you had a main job with a side job and you end your employment with one of those jobs, even if you keep working at the other job.
So you don’t need to actually stop working or even reduce your working hours to a minimum under this condition. As long as you end an employment arrangement after you’ve turned 60, you meet this condition.
2.You’ve reached your preservation age and have retired permanently
- If you were born before 1 July 1964, you’ve already reached your preservation age. If this is you and you completely stop all work, with the plan to never return to working for more than 10 hours a week again, you are considered retired.
- If you were born from 1 July 1964 onwards, your preservation age is 60. Once you reach the age of 60, if you completely stop all work, with the plan to never return to working for more than 10 hours a week again, you are considered retired.
- In both of these situations when you have reached preservation age and retired permanently, you need to sign a declaration that it is your intention to retire permanently. If you want to start working again later, you’ll need to declare that your situation has changed and you may need to prove to the ATO that this is the case.
You will be able to access the super you’ve built up to this point, but any contributions that come into your account in future if you are still working, or return to work, will be locked away until you meet another condition of release, such as turning 65 or ending another employment arrangement.
If you’re under 65 and want to take your super, under whichever definition of “retired” you fit into above, you need to be very careful that you meet all of the conditions. There are severe penalties for illegal early access of super.
You meet a different condition of release
Your super is also accessible if you meet one of these 2 conditions of release:
- Reaching your preservation age AND opening a Transition to Retirement Income Stream
- You die
When you reach your preservation age (that is, if you were born before 1 July 1964, or when you turn 60 if you were born on or after 1 July 1964) you have reached your preservation age. This could allow you to access your super. You could use some or all of your super to open a Transition to Retirement Income Stream. This allows you to draw a regular income from your Income Stream while you are still working.
There are rules regarding the minimum and maximum you can take out of a Transition to Retirement Income Stream (eg a maximum of 10% of your balance at the start of the financial year). You can find out more about Transition to Retirement in our Transition to Retirement video.
You meet other special circumstances (early release)
There are other special circumstances where, if you are eligible, you might be able to access some of your super, or receive a benefit from super, before you reach preservation age. They include:
- You are temporarily incapacitated.
- You are permanently incapacitated.
- You are suffering severe financial hardship
- You meet the conditions under ‘compassionate grounds’
- You have a terminal medical condition
- You are participating in the First Home Super Saver Scheme
You can read more about the criteria for each of these circumstances on the ATO website and in our article “Early Access To Super“.
ElectricSuper members are also permitted to access their super from age 55. However, there are tax implications for doing this. We recommend that you speak to us and to your financial planner before you access your super to make sure you understand the implications to you for accessing your super before the age of 65.
If you meet a condition of release, you can request to release your super by using the appropriate form for your needs from our website. Find our forms here.