Tempted to raid your super?

If you’re struggling with money, accessing your super may seem the ideal solution to your problems, however, you can’t simply withdraw what you’ve paid in.

Strict rules apply to accessing superannuation benefits and before doing so, fund members are required to satisfy a Condition of Release. If you haven’t reached 65, your preservation age, or retired permanently from the workforce, you will have to satisfy one of the following conditions before you can apply for early access to your superannuation:

  • compassionate grounds
  • severe financial hardship
  • terminal medical condition
  • temporary or permanent incapacity
  • balance of $200 or less
  • departing Australia permanently if you’re here temporarily


Compassionate grounds
In some instances, such as paying for medical treatment, making a loan payment to save you from losing your home, modifying a home or car to accommodate special needs, or paying death, funeral or burial expenses, an amount of super to cover such costs can be released. This lump sum is taxed as a normal super lump sum.

Contact the Department of Social Services to request access to your super under this condition.

Severe financial hardship
If you have been receiving eligible Government income support payments continuously for 26 weeks and are not able to meet reasonable living expenses, then you can request a lump sum withdrawal from your super fund. The minimum amount that can be requested is $1000 and the maximum $10,000 and is limited to one withdrawal in a 12-month period.

Contact your superannuation fund direct to request access to your super under this condition.

Terminal medical condition
A terminal medical condition, which will result in your death within a 24-month period, may enable you to access your super early. Two doctors must certify your condition, one of whom must be a specialist in the field related to your condition. If withdrawn within 24 months of the date of your condition being certified, the lump sum will be tax free.

Contact your superannuation fund direct to request access to your super under this condition.

Temporary or permanent incapacity
In regards to temporary incapacity, you must be unable to work or have the need to work fewer hours due to a physical or mental condition before you can apply for early access to your super. This type of super withdrawal will be paid as regular payments and will be taxed as a standard super income stream.

For those with a permanent incapacity to work, you must satisfy your fund that you will never be able to work again in a role that you are qualified to do by education, training or experience, due to a mental or physical condition. Your condition must be certified by two medical practitioners and the withdrawal can be paid as a lump sum or as regular payments. How tax is applied will depend on your circumstances and the tax liability for contributions made.

Contact your superannuation fund direct to request access to your super under these conditions.

Balance of less than $200
If you cease employment and have a balance of less than $200 in your super fund, then you may be able to withdraw this amount, tax free.

Contact your superannuation fund direct to request access to your super under this condition.

Departing Australia permanently
If you have been working in Australia as a temporary resident, then you may be able to apply to take your super with you when you depart. This is called a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) and any application to withdraw your super should be made within six months of your departure.

For more information, visit ATO.gov.au

While you may consider that you meet one of the conditions outlined above, being granted early access to your superannuation is not guaranteed. Both super funds and the Department of Social Services apply strict criteria to the decision-making process and the reality is that you may not receive the outcome you had hoped.  Accessing superannuation early should be considered as a last resort.

Related articles:
Early access to superannuation
Worried about your finances?

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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