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Exceptional circumstances

The purpose of super is to help you save money for your retirement. Generally you cannot withdraw your super in cash before you reach your preservation age, which is between age 55 and 60, depending on your date of birth. For more information see accessing your super. There are, however, some limited circumstances in which you can access part of your super early - for instance on compassionate grounds, or if you are in severe financial hardship. By law, there are strict eligibility guidelines about releasing super under these conditions. Please call SuperPhone on 1300 360 373 for more information before applying.

Severe financial hardship

You must meet certain criteria to be eligible to request an early release of your super based on severe financial hardship.

You must be receiving Commonwealth income support payments

  • You must be in receipt of a Commonwealth income support payment and have been so, continuously, for the last 26 weeks. Eligible payments include service pensions, social security pensions, income support supplements and some drought relief payments. Payments that are not eligible include parenting allowance, family payments or Austudy/Abstudy or other youth allowance payments in relation to full-time study.
  • Note: If you’re older than your preservation age and you’ve been continuously receiving eligible payments for at least 39 weeks since reaching that age, you need only to declare that you’re not gainfully employed at the time of making a request, you do not need to provide proof of financial hardship.

You must provide proof of financial hardship

  • You must also provide documentary evidence to satisfy the trustee that you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.
  • An immediate living expense is considered to be one that is due and payable at the time of your application. Future expenses will generally not be considered unless it is an urgent expense payable in the immediate future.
  • Any assets that could reasonably be sold to meet your expenses (excluding your home) may be taken into account in determining your financial hardship.

A minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $10,000 (before tax) in any 12-month period can be released from your preserved super if the Trustee accepts your claim for financial hardship. Only one payment can be made in any 12-month period. Any benefit payable is subject to tax if you are under age 60.

Please call SuperPhone on 1300 360 373 for more information or to make a request.

Compassionate grounds

There are a limited number of reasons for which compassionate grounds may be considered for early release of your super:

  • to pay for medical or dental treatment (or transport to that treatment) for you or your dependant - where at least 2 medical practitioners (including one specialist) certify that the illness or injury is life threatening or the patient is suffering acute or chronic pain or mental illness, and the treatment is not readily available through the public health system
  • to pay arrears on the mortgage on your home to prevent foreclosure on the mortgage or your home being sold by your lender (note: the amount that can be released from super on these grounds is limited to approximately 3 months' mortgage repayments)
  • to modify your home or vehicle to accommodate special needs due to a severe disability of you or your dependant
  • to pay for expenses associated with palliative care for a terminal illness suffered by you or your dependant (other grounds for early release also exist for people with terminal illness)
  • to pay for expenses associated with your dependant’s death, funeral or burial.

The applicant also needs to demonstrate that they do not have the financial capacity to meet the expenses by other means, such as savings, health insurance or workers' compensation. More information on compassionate grounds is available from the Commonwealth Department of Human Services (DHS) website.

The DHS is responsible for considering applications to access your superannuation early on compassionate grounds. The DHS may also impose limits on the amount that can be released from your preserved super.