If you are not eligible
We can offer you 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 DHS Service Centre for more information.
If you are terminally ill, you can apply directly to your superannuation fund for the early release of your superannuation. You do not need to submit an application to us. You should contact your superannuation fund for more information.
Guidance for medical/dental practitioners and specialists
Guidance information for registered medical/dental practitioners and specialists for the early release of super to meet the cost of medical treatment that is not readily available through the public health system.
In Australia, superannuation cannot generally be accessed before a person reaches their preservation age. However, in some limited circumstances the law does allow access to superannuation early. Most of the grounds under which early access is permitted are administered directly by the superannuation funds. These include:
- severe financial hardship
- terminal illness
- permanent incapacity
- balances of $200 or less, and
- permanent departure from Australia
If your circumstances match one of these grounds you should enquire directly to your superannuation fund.
Specified compassionate grounds
Our department is responsible for assessing applications for the early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds. These include payments for:
- medical or dental treatment for you or your dependant
- transport for medical or dental treatment
- arrears on your mortgage to prevent your home being sold by your lender
- modification to your home or vehicle to accommodate a severe disability for you or your dependant
- palliative care for a terminal illness for you or your dependant
- expenses associated with your dependant’s death, funeral or burial
The regulations of compassionate grounds are set out in Australian law and whilst early access is possible it is always subject to strict legal criteria. Applications must be supported by evidence and applicants must not have the financial capacity to meet the costs they are applying for by any other means, such as savings.
Severe financial hardship
If you have been receiving an eligible Centrelink income support payment for at least 26 weeks, you may be able to apply direct to your superannuation fund for the early release of your superannuation benefits.
You need to know
Early superannuation release on grounds of severe financial hardship
We will respond to requests for confirmation of your income-support payment status.
We do not determine whether your superannuation benefits will be released. This will be determined by your superannuation fund.
Check with your superannuation fund before you speak with us—they may be able to confirm your income support status electronically with us if you authorise them.
You can also contact us and request a letter (a Q230 form or a Q251) confirming that you have received an eligible income support payment for the required period. Letters are no longer valid after 21 days.
You need to let us know if any of your superannuation benefits are released to you, as this may affect your income-support payments.
Early superannuation release on specified compassionate grounds
We administer the very limited circumstances where benefits may be released on specified compassionate grounds.
Early superannuation release and temporary residents
Generally, the early release of superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents only. If you are a temporary resident, you may be eligible if you met the grounds before 1 April 2009, or you hold an Investor Retirement (subclass 405) visa or Retirement (subclass 410) visa.
If you do not meet the criteria, then you cannot apply for the early release of your superannuation on specified compassionate grounds.
You can also apply directly to the Australian Taxation Office for early release of benefits if you were in Australia temporarily and are now leaving the country permanently.
Financial advice for the early release of superannuation benefits
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 impact your financial situation. We recommend that you get 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 receives a Centrelink payment. A release may impact any benefits you or your partner receives including Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit or Income Support Payment.
Compassionate grounds medical treatment and/or transport
You may be eligible for early release of superannuation on specified compassionate grounds to pay for medical treatment and/or transport expenses for yourself or a dependant.
Compassionate grounds—mortgage assistance
You may be eligible for early release of superannuation on specified compassionate grounds to prevent your home from being sold by the lender with whom you have the home's mortgage.
Compassionate grounds—modifications to your home and-or motor vehicle
You may be eligible for early release of superannuation on specified compassionate grounds to pay for modifications to your home or motor vehicle.
Compassionate grounds palliative care
You may be eligible for early release of superannuation on specified compassionate grounds to pay for palliative care expenses for yourself or a dependant.
Compassionate grounds funeral expenses for a dependant
You may be eligible for the early release of your superannuation on specified compassionate grounds to pay for the funeral expenses of a dependant.