Generally, you must reach your preservation age before you can access your super. Use the following table to work out your preservation age.
Preservation age is not the same as pension age. Pension age is when you become eligible for government pension benefits, depending on your income and assets.
There are rules for how you can access each category. There is no requirement for the fund to pay these benefits once a member reaches a certain age. Benefits need to be cashed as soon as practicable after a member dies.
Generally, you cannot access preserved benefits from a super fund or retirement savings account until you have satisfied a condition of release.
As long as your employer or your employer’s associates have made superannuation contributions on your behalf, your fund can pay you restricted non-preserved benefits if that employment is terminated. They can also pay you under the same conditions as preserved benefits.
These are benefits you voluntarily kept within the super system after you met a condition of release. If the super fund rules allow the payment, your fund can pay you these benefits at any time on demand, regardless of your:
You must meet a condition of release before your super fund can pay you a benefit. Your fund can only pay benefits if the fund’s rules allow it.
Your fund can pay your benefits under the following conditions of release, provided the fund’s rules allow it:
There may be restrictions as to how the benefit may be paid.
You can only access lump sum super benefits before your preservation age in very limited circumstances. For example, if you:
You must send your application to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) if you want to access your super benefits early due to compassionate grounds.
If you have a terminal medical condition, you can apply to your super fund to access your super benefits tax-free, regardless of your age.
The final decision to release your super benefits is subject to the rules of the fund.
Once you reach your preservation age, you can access your super before you retire but only in the form of a ‘non-commutable’ income stream, not a lump sum.
This means, if you are 55 years old or over, you can reduce your working hours without leaving your job or reducing your total income. You can top-up your income with a regular income stream from your super savings.