Explained: When you can access your superannuation

The COVID-19 pandemic gave many Australians an early taste of what it was like to access their superannuation, but many of those approaching retirement steered clear of this temptation.

The rules around accessing your superannuation as you approach retirement are quite different to the early access to superannuation scheme.

One of the first landmarks you will reach as you approach retirement is the age where you can access your superannuation funds, known as preservation age.

If you reach your preservation age and you are fully retired, then you are able to access your superannuation.

Your preservation age depends on when you were born.

Your date of birthAge you can access your super (preservation age)
Before 1 July 196055
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 196257
1 July 1962 – 30 June 196358
1 July 1963 – 30 June 196459
After 1 July 196460

If you have reached your preservation age but haven’t permanently retired, you can still access part of your super via a transition to retirement (TTR) strategy.

If you are in a defined benefit fund you may be able to access the money from age 55, regardless of when you were born. You will have to check this with your fund as the eligibility requirements are different for each fund.

Getting your super early
The COVID-19 early access to super scheme closed at the end of last year. However, you can still access your superannuation before you reach preservation age in some circumstances.

The circumstances include suffering from a terminal illness or injury, or being unable to work or only able to work for a few hours because of a medical condition.

If you can’t meet your living expenses and have been receiving Commonwealth benefits for 26 weeks, you may also be allowed access to your super.

You may also be able to access your superannuation on compassionate grounds to pay for unpaid expenses, which could include medical treatment, modifying your home or vehicle because of a severe disability, funeral expenses, or a loan repayment to prevent you losing your home.

If you need to access your super for any of these reasons, you should see a financial counsellor so that you understand your options and the process, because there are heavy penalties for breaking the rules around accessing superannuation early.

Are you approaching preservation age? What are your plans for retirement?

Written by Ben

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