Early release of superannuation

A way to get some of your super before retirement age only if there are compassionate grounds.

Early release of super is only for unpaid costs. You can’t get it if you’ve already paid – even if you used a loan, a credit card or money from family or friends.

Eligibility

Who can apply

To get your super released early you must:

  • meet a compassionate ground
  • be in severe financial hardship
  • have a terminal illness
  • have less than $200 in super
  • be a temporary resident leaving Australia for good

Financial impact

Early release of super has some downsides. You may end up with:

  • more tax to pay
  • more child support to pay
  • lower Centrelink payments
  • less child support

Tax

If you’re below preservation age you’ll need to pay tax on any money you get from super.

Read more on the Australian Taxation Office website about:

Self-managed super

You’ll also pay tax on early super from a self-managed superannuation fund.

Read about self-managed funds on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Centrelink and child support

Phone us if you or your partner:

  • get a Centrelink payment
  • get child support
  • pay child support

Get advice

Talk to an independent financial adviser before you apply for early release of super.

You can watch our video about choosing a financial adviser.

Read more about choosing a financial adviser on the MoneySmart website.

You can find a financial counsellor on the Financial Counselling Australia website.

Grounds for early release

You normally can’t use your super until you reach preservation age. In rare cases your super fund may let you have some of the money early.

Read more about early release of superannuation

Early release of super to help a dependant

You can apply for early release of super to help your partner, child or other dependant. It must be for compassionate grounds.

Read more about dependency requirements

Compassionate grounds

About compassionate grounds

We can approve early release of some super if you have compassionate grounds for needing it.

There are strict rules about who can apply and what proof we need.

What compassionate grounds are

Compassionate grounds are:

  • Mortgage – stop the bank from selling your home
  • Medical – pay for treatment or travel to treatment
  • Disability – modify your home or car
  • Palliative care – for you and a dependant
  • Funeral – for a dependant

Who can apply

You must:

  • be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • need the money on compassionate grounds
  • have no other way to pay

If you’re in an exempt public sector super scheme we can’t approve early release of super.

Medical

You may be able to get early release of super to pay for:

  • medical treatment
  • travel to medical treatment

You must have:

  • a life threatening illness or injury
  • acute or chronic pain
  • acute or chronic mental illness

You must show that:

  • you can’t get the treatment through the public health system - this isn't required for travel to medical treatment
  • you can’t pay any other way, such as using savings or selling assets

Medical costs for a dependant

You may be able to get early super to pay these costs for your partner, child or other dependant.

Read the rules about early release of super for a dependant.

How much you can get

We can let your super fund release enough money to cover reasonable costs. We use quotes and invoices to work this out.

If you don’t have enough in super

If the amount you need is more than you have in super, you must show us how you’ll pay for the rest.

Mortgage

You may be able to get early release of super if:

  • the lender threatens to sell your home

You can only do this if:

  • it’s your main home
  • you’re legally responsible for the mortgage
  • you can’t pay any other way, such as using savings or selling assets

You can’t apply for early release of super for anyone else’s mortgage, even a dependant’s.

How much you can get

We will only let your super fund release enough money to stop the lender selling your home.

The most you can get from 1 fund in 12 months is:

  • 3 months of repayments, and
  • 12 months of interest on the balance of the loan

We will only release what the lender requires, which may be less than the maximum amount.

If you don’t have enough in super

If the amount you need is more than you have in super, you'll need to either: 

  • reduce the arrears, or
  • provide a letter from the lender confirming they will accept the amount available in super to stop the sale of the home

Disability

If you have a severe disability you may be able to get early release of super to:

  • modify your home or car
  • buy disability aids

The modifications must be to:

  • your main home, or
  • a car you own

You must show that you can’t pay any other way, such as using savings or selling assets.

What may be different

If you rent your home, the landlord must agree in writing to the modifications.

Disability costs for a dependant

You may be able to get early release of super to pay these costs for your partner, child or other dependant.

Read the rules about early release of super for a dependant.

How much you can get

We can let your super fund release enough money to cover reasonable costs. We use quotes and invoices to work this out.

If you don’t have enough in super

If the amount you need is more than you have in super, you must show us how you’ll pay for the rest.

Palliative care

You may be able to get early release of super to pay for palliative care.

Palliative care for you

Apply straight to your super fund for early super to pay for your own palliative care.

They can release the money when you have a terminal illness. You won’t pay tax on this money.

We can also approve your early release of super, but you’ll pay tax on it.

Palliative care for a dependant

Apply to us for early release of super if your partner, child or other dependant:

  • has a terminal illness
  • needs help paying for palliative care
  • can’t pay any other way, such as using savings or selling assets

Read the rules about early release of super for a dependant.

How much you can get

We can let your super fund release enough money to cover reasonable costs. We use quotes and invoices to work this out.

Funeral

You may be able to get early release of super to pay for a partner, child or other dependant’s funeral.

You must show that you can’t pay any other way, such as using savings or selling assets.

Read the rules about early release of super for a dependant.

How much you can get

We can let your super fund release enough money to cover reasonable costs. We use quotes and invoices to work this out.

Funeral costs include the funeral service and the headstone. They don’t include an event like a wake.

Applying

Before you start, check:

  • who to apply to
  • if you’re eligible

To apply to your super fund, contact them directly.

To apply to us:

  • find out what you need
  • fill in your form
  • submit your form and documents
  • wait for us to tell you the result

Next

Resources

Contact us

Call the early release of super line between 9 am and 5 pm AEST, Monday to Friday.

Call the Multilingual Phone Service to speak with a skilled bilingual service officer.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment, call the TTY service.

Payment and Service Finder

Find, estimate and compare payments and services you may be eligible for. You can also work out what a change in circumstance might mean for the payments and services you currently receive from us.

Start using Payment and Service Finder

Manage your money

 

We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.

Read about how to manage your money.

Page last updated: 27 August 2017