Grounds for the early release of superannuation

Generally, you cannot access your superannuation before you reach your preservation age.

There are limited circumstances where the law lets you access your superannuation early. In most circumstances you should apply directly to your superannuation fund for the early release of your benefits. 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 directly to your superannuation fund for early release of superannuation benefits on the ground of severe financial hardship. The superannuation fund trustee administers the release of funds under financial hardship grounds.

If you get ABSTUDY, Austudy or Youth Allowance you cannot apply for the early release of superannuation under severe financial hardship grounds.

You’re considered in severe financial hardship if you’re unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses and are:

  • below your preservation age, are currently getting an eligible income support payment, and have received this eligible income support payment for a continuous 26 weeks

  • not retired and have reached your preservation age, are getting an eligible income payment, and have received this eligible income support payment for a total of 39 weeks, since reaching your preservation age

Early release of superannuation may impact your Centrelink payments including, Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit or an income support payment.

The superannuation fund trustee can charge you fees for the early release of your superannuation. Any early release of superannuation may also be taxed.

Terminal illness

If you’re terminally ill, you can apply directly to your superannuation fund for the early release of your superannuation. You don’t need to submit an application to us.

Your superannuation fund will let you know what documents you need and will decide if your superannuation benefits will be released.

Superannuation benefits released early on grounds of terminal illness aren’t taxed.

You should seek advice from your superannuation fund about the implications of early release for any insurance you have through the fund.

Contact your superannuation fund for more information.

Temporary residents and early superannuation release

You can apply directly to your superannuation fund for early release of benefits if you’re in Australia temporarily and will be leaving the country permanently.

Compassionate grounds

There are limited circumstances where superannuation benefits may be released on compassionate grounds.

Find out more about compassionate grounds

Page last updated: 7 November 2016

This information was printed Sunday 4 December 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/grounds-early-release-superannuation It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.