Specified compassionate grounds
We assess applications for the early release of superannuation in certain circumstances on compassionate grounds and determine if you meet the specific legislative requirements.
Other grounds for release
Generally, you cannot access your superannuation before you reach your preservation age.
There are limited circumstances where the law allows you to access your superannuation early. Most of the grounds under which you can access your superannuation early are accessed directly through your superannuation fund. These circumstances include:
- severe financial hardship
- terminal illness
- permanent incapacity
- balances of $200 or less
- permanent departure from Australia
If you believe any of these apply to you, you should contact your superannuation fund.
Severe financial hardship
You can apply for early release of superannuation benefits on the grounds of severe financial hardship. Applications are made directly to your superannuation fund.
To support your application, you can ask for a confirmation letter from any service centre or by contacting us. The letter is only valid for 21 days from the date of issue and confirms that you meet specific criteria. The letter will show that you have received and are still receiving an eligible income support payment for the required period.
Alternatively, your superannuation fund may be able to check your eligibility using the Customer Confirmation eService, if you have given them permission to do so.
Early release of superannuation may impact benefits you or your partner receive including, but not limited to, Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit or an income support payment.
The superannuation fund trustee may charge you fees for the early release of your superannuation. Any early release of superannuation may also be taxed.
If you are terminally ill, you can apply directly to your super fund for the early release of your superannuation. You do not need to submit an application to us.
You will need to provide your super fund a certificate from 2 medical practitioners, including a specialist. The certificate must state that you suffer from an illness which is likely to result in death within 24 months.
Your super fund will let you know what documents are needed and will decide if your superannuation benefits will be released.
Superannuation released early on grounds of terminal illness is tax free.
You should also seek advice from your superannuation fund about the implications of early release for any insurance you hold through the fund.
Contact your superannuation fund for more information.
Temporary residents and early superannuation release
The early release of superannuation benefits on specified compassionate grounds is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents only. However, if you are a temporary resident, you may be eligible if you applied before 1 April 2009, or if you hold an Investor Retirement subclass 405 visa or Retirement subclass 410 visa.
If you do not meet the criteria, you cannot apply for the early release of your superannuation on specified compassionate grounds.
You can apply directly to the Australian Taxation Office for early release of benefits if you are in Australia temporarily and will be leaving the country permanently.
If you are not eligible for the early release of superannuation
We can offer support services if you are experiencing severe financial hardship. We can also help you get financial counselling as well as personal or family counselling from social workers. In some cases, special one off payments may be available if you are experiencing extreme circumstances.
Visit your local service centre for more information.
It is important to make sure that accessing your superannuation benefits is the right financial option for you.
The amount of superannuation you receive may be included in your taxable income, which can affect your financial situation. We recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making an application for the early release of your superannuation.
We also recommend that you contact us if you or your partner receive a Centrelink payment. A release may impact any benefits you or your partner receive including Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit or income support payment.
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start your claim.
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- begin your application in the personal details section of your Centrelink online account
- submit your application
- provide your supporting documentation
We will assess your claim and let you know the outcome.
Contact us for information on early superannuation
For more information on early release of superannuation call us between 9 am and 5 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday on 1300 131 060 or
+61 3 6222 2189.
If you do not speak English, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 202.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, please call the TTY services on
1800 810 586.
Guidance for health professionals
Registered medical and dental practitioners and specialists can read more about the early release of superannuation.
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.
- Managing your money helps you control your money to help you achieve your goals, manage on a low income and know where to go for urgent money help
- Borrowing & credit provides information on loans, credit cards, other types of credit such as interest free deals and rent to buy, information about credit reports and credit repair and what to do if you are having trouble with debt
- Superannuation & retirement helps you get the most out of your super
- Investing guides you through the basic principles of investing and how to find a good financial adviser
- Scams explains how scams work, how to identify different scams and what to do if you have been scammed
- Life events & you provides information tailored to your situation including under 25s, families and over 55s
- Tools & resources provides handy tools, calculators, publications, audio files and quizzes including a budget planner, retirement planner and mobile apps