While your super fund can help you with an early claim for super made under financial hardship, claims made under compassionate grounds must go direct to the ATO.
Super is your money, but just not yet.
In practical terms, the primary purpose of superannuation is to provide benefits to super members in their retirement, or on their death or disability before retirement.
- The government provides tax concessions to encourage people to save more into their super.
- In return for the lower tax rate, they restrict when people can withdraw funds from their super before their official retirement age.
The age when you can access your super normally is a little different for some older Australians, but either way its referred to as reaching your Preservation Age.
Calculating your Preservation Age
The Preservation Age of a super fund member depends on their date of birth.
For people born before July 1960, the preservation age is 55. For those born after this date, the preservation age is being phased up to age 60, as shown in the table.
|Date of Birth||Preservation Age|
|Before 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|
Basically, everything that went into your super fund from July 1999 you can consider preserved funds.
While there are different rules for different types of past super contributions (and different confusing names to match), for the majority of Australians born after 2000, you can consider all the money that's gone into your super, preserved.
Have a look at your recent funds annual statement and it should show you a breakdown of your preserved funds as well as any balances that are classed as unrestricted, non-preserved, restricted non-preserved and reserved benefits.
Simply put, its a legally recognised condition you must meet before you can get access to your super funds.
The 5 most common Conditions of Release for paying out super benefits are when you have;
- reached your preservation age and retire
- reached your preservation age and began a transition-to-retirement income stream
- ceased an employment arrangement on or after the age of 60
- are 65 years of age (even if you haven't retired)
- have died.
There are very limited special circumstances when you can access your super early.
These circumstances are mainly related to specific medical conditions or severe financial hardship.
You may be allowed to withdraw some of your super on compassionate grounds for unpaid expenses.
Examples of Compassionate Grounds
What's recognised as compassionate grounds can include the following;
- paying for medical treatment for you or a dependant
- making a payment on a loan to prevent you from losing your house
- modifying your home or vehicle for the special needs of you or a dependant because of a severe disability
- paying for expenses associated with a death, funeral or burial of a dependant.
To find out more about the eligibility criteria to access your super on compassionate grounds, refer to the ATO rules Access on Compassionate Grounds - for more detail.