Explained: How to access your super before 65

You may think all you need to do is wait until you turn 65 before you can access the full amount in your superannuation account, but there are a number of circumstances in which you can enjoy it earlier than that.

Gaining access to the full balance of your super account before turning 65 usually means reaching your ‘preservation age’, which varies based on your date of birth.

If you were born before 1 July 1960, your preservation age is 55. If you were born after 30 June 1964, your preservation is 60.

If you were born between these dates, then it gets a little more complicated. Your preservation will be between 56 and 59 and is based on the financial – rather than the calendar – year you were born in.

Read: ATO on the hunt for illegal super withdrawals

But along with reaching your preservation age, you must also meet what’s known as a ‘condition of release’ in order to access your super.

The main requirement for early release, besides reaching preservation age, is that the super fund member must have retired from paid employment. But further conditions also need to be met.

Has reached preservation age but still under 60
People who have reached their preservation age, but still haven’t turn 60, are considered to be retired when the arrangement under which they were gainfully employed has come to end.

Your super fund will also need to be reasonably satisfied you never intend to work again on either a full- or part-time basis. Usually this is achieved by making a statutory declaration to that effect.

Read: Thousands who withdrew super early were ‘forced to do so’

Aged 60 but under 65
If you’re aged between 60 and 64, then you are considered to be retired as soon as your paid employment officially ends.

The difference here is that there is no requirement not to work again. Once an employment arrangement has ended, the member may cash out all benefits accumulated up to that time, and then begin working for a new employer.

Once you have cashed any super under one condition of release, any super accumulated after that (e.g. from your new job) can’t be accessed until a fresh condition of release occurs.

Beginning a transition-to-retirement income stream
Some super funds, particularly self-managed super funds, offer products known as transition-to-retirement income stream (TTRIS). These allow the regular release of smaller amounts of your super as a top-up pension while you are still working.

If your fund offers a TTR, all you need to qualify is to have reached your preservation age.

Read: A super year for super, but what’s the outlook for 2022?

But the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has strict conditions and limits on how much can be paid under this arrangement.

“A transition to retirement income stream must be an account-based pension,” the ATO says.

“The amount paid to the recipient each year must meet a specified minimum [usually 4 per cent] and must not exceed 10 per cent of the account balance on the commencement of a TTRIS for the year it starts or on 1 July for each subsequent year.”

Would you be interested in gaining access to your super before turning 65? Should it be easier for those who wish to access their super earlier? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer