Eligibility for the early release of superannuation
Superannuation cannot generally be accessed before a person reaches their preservation age.
In limited circumstances the law allows for early access to superannuation. 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
- permanent departure from Australia
If you believe any of these apply to you, you should contact your superannuation fund.
Specified compassionate grounds
We are 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 for you or your dependant
- 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 objective of compassionate grounds is to enable an eligible individual to access their superannuation savings in the event that circumstances meet a specified condition of release under regulation 6.19A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994.
The release of an amount of a person’s superannuation savings should be considered in the context of Australia’s regulated superannuation industry and the government’s retirement incomes policy under which superannuation savings are preserved for retirement and access to those savings is restricted. An early release of superannuation must be necessary and should meet the minimum expenses required under the ground.
You must be unable to meet the costs by other means, such as savings.
The regulations of what constitutes compassionate grounds are set out in Australian law. While early access to superannuation is possible, it is always subject to strict legal criteria. Applications must be supported by evidence.
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 request 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; that is, you have received 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.
A release may have an impact on any benefits you or your partner receive including, but not limited to, Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit or an income support payment.
Compassionate grounds medical treatment or transport
You may be eligible for an early release of superannuation for medical treatment or transport expenses.
Compassionate grounds - mortgage assistance
You may be eligible for an early release of superannuation for mortgage assistance to prevent your home from being sold by the lender with whom you have the home's mortgage.
Compassionate grounds modifications to your home or motor vehicle
You may be eligible for early release of superannuation for home or vehicle modification expenses.
Compassionate grounds palliative care
You may be eligible for an early release of superannuation 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 to pay for the funeral expenses of a dependant.
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 should contact your superannuation fund for more information.
Temporary residents and early superannuation release
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 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 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.
Read more about super on the Australian Taxation Office website.
If you are not eligible for the early release of superannuation
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 service centre for more information.
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 affect 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.
Approval for early superannuation release on specified compassionate grounds
We administer the very limited circumstances where superannuation benefits may be released on specified compassionate grounds.
Contact us for information on early superannuation
For more information on early superannuation release call us between 9 am and 5 pm local 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 131 450.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, please call the TTY services on 1800 552 152.
Guidance for health professionals
Guidance information for registered medical and dental practitioners and specialists provides further information for the early release of superannuation to meet the cost of medical treatment that is not readily available through the public health system.
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.
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