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The contributions you or your employer make to superannuation are an investment in your retirement. Generally, the Government requires most of the money paid into your superannuation account to stay there until you reach age 65 or preservation age. This amount is called “preserved super”.
Preservation age will be dependent upon when you were born:
Date of Birth
Your preservation age
Before 1 July 1960
From 1 July 1960 until 30 June 1961
From 1 July 1961 until 30 June 1962
From 1 July 1962 until 30 June 1963
From 1 July 1963 until 30 June 1964
On or after 1 July 1964
Source: Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994, sub-Regulation 6.01 Source
You may be able to obtain early access to your preserved super on financial grounds in two circumstances:
If your claim is approved, you may apply for a release of funds as many times as you wish in a 12 month period. Further, there is no restriction on the amount you can apply to be released.
This type of application is usually made through your superannuation fund/s. In order to apply under these conditions you will need to obtain a letter from Centrelink (called a “Q230”). Also, all documentary evidence provided with your application is usually required to be no more than one month old.
Contributions made to your superannuation may be released if you have a ‘terminal medical condition’. To establish that you are suffering from a terminal medical condition you must have two registered medical practitioners (one who is a specialist) jointly or separately certify that you have an illness, or have suffered an injury that will likely result in your death within 24 months as at the date of certification.
For each medical certificate, the period of certification must not have expired at the time of you make the application for early access.
This type of application is usually made through your superannuation fund/s.
You may be able to apply to the ATO for early release of your preserved super on compassionate grounds. Generally, an application may be made on these grounds where you require money for the payment of:
For the purposes of applying under any of the grounds above, a dependant is usually defined as:
An application on these grounds can be made with the ATO. The process is described here – Early access on compassionate grounds.
Generally, you will be considered to be permanently incapacitated if you have an injury or illness that makes it unlikely that you will engage in gainful employment that is within your education, training or experience (see Regulation 1.03C of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994).
Ordinarily, you will need certification from two separate registered medical practitioners that you are permanently incapacitated. You should also be aware that if you are found to be permanently incapacitated, you may also meet the conditions for an insurance claim for Total and Permanent Disablement linked with your superannuation account. It can help to seek advice from experts in superannuation and insurance matters to determine whether this is the case.
An application of this type is made through your superannuation fund/s.
You may be able to apply for early release of your preserved super through your superannuation fund/s.
Application 1) is made through the ATO, application 2) is made through your superannuation fund.
Before deciding whether or not you are eligible for early access to your preserved super, we would highly recommend speaking with your superannuation fund and the Australian Taxation Office. You can also seek assistance from a lawyer specialising in superannuation and insurance matters.
If you are still ineligible and facing financial crisis we would recommend contacting financial counselling services and personal/family counselling services.
You can contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
You might have a separate claim for super disability insurance benefits as well as your contributions. These benefits can sometimes include monthly payments while you are unable to work, or a one off lump sum payment if you are unlikely to return to work you are educated, trained or experienced in.
For further information and advice regarding this, please speak with a superannuation, financial or legal expert.
For information about accessing your super early during the COVID pandemic, read the following info from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers: What you need to consider before withdrawing your super early
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