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The primary purpose of your super is to ensure you have money saved for your retirement, or can leave some financial protection for your loved ones if you die before retirement.

For this reason, the law requires you to keep your super within the superannuation system until you satisfy a condition of release. Although you are free to move your super around the system (e.g. from one complying fund to another), you generally cannot get your hands on the money at least until you have reached your preservation age. This depends on when you were born:

If you were born Your preservation age is
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 to 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 to 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 to 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 to 30 June 1964 59
After 30 June 1964 60

Even when you’ve reached your preservation age, you generally won’t be able to access your super unless you’ve also retired, started a transition to retirement income stream, or reached your 65th birthday.

In limited circumstances, you may be able to start withdrawing and using your super before you've reached your preservation age. This includes where you meet the eligibility criteria for early access under any of the 'grounds of release' listed in the following table. Please note that the amount you will be able to access varies depending on what grounds it is released to you early.

Grounds for release How much can you access?
Compassionate grounds - COVID-19 measures Up to $10,000 per financial year (see below)
Compassionate grounds: General Australian Taxation Office (ATO) decides amount
(based on needs)
Severe financial hardship $1,000 - $10,000 (in any 12-month period)
Permanent incapacity Full balance (less tax) + insurance (if applicable)
Terminal medical condition Full balance (less tax) + insurance (if applicable)
First Home Super Saver Scheme Up to $15,000 per financial year, and $30,000 in total
Leaving Australia permanently Full balance (less tax) may be paid out (or transferred to a participating KiwiSaver fund if moving to New Zealand)

IMPORTANT!
Access is subject to eligibility requirements and will depend on your personal circumstances. You are encouraged to consider seeking qualified financial and tax advice before accessing your super early, as accessing it early will impact your retirement savings and will also have tax and other implications.

Before you apply for early release of super, you should evaluate other ways of obtaining financial relief that will not reduce the money that you will want to live on in retirement – for example, accessing government benefits you may now be eligible for. Bear in mind that if you draw a sum of money down early from super, you forego not just the sum you withdraw, but also the future investment earnings on that amount when you eventually retire. You can get free help, as explained on the financial counselling page of ASIC's moneysmart.gov.auOpens in new window website, which has a COVID-19 section on making financial decisions during this challenging time, with tips on looking after yourself and your money.

If you are withdrawing money from an accumulation account (e.g. your APSS Rollover or Spouse account), the impact will depend on your age now, the age you retire, your investment choice(s) and how much you withdraw. The COVID-19 accessing your super page on moneysmart.gov.au also has a useful Super withdrawal estimatorOpens in new window  to help you to calculate the impact on your retirement savings of accessing some of your super now due to COVID-19. Please also be aware of the potential impact on any insurance coverOpens in new window you have through your accumulation account. If the amount you access early leaves you with too low an account balance, your insurance cover might cease.

Note that the ASIC estimator does not work for defined benefit funds, including the APSS Defined Benefit, and any applicable insurance cover provided by your APSS Defined Benefit won't be impacted either.
 

Warning! Effect on your APSS Defined Benefit 
However, if you are an employee member and you access some of your APSS Defined Benefit early on compassionate grounds (including the COVID-19 measures) or due to severe financial hardship, you should be aware that this will impact your APSS Defined Benefit.

If you access your super early on either of these grounds, an 'other' offset account will be opened automatically for you. The amount that you take early will be deducted (offset) from your ultimate Defined Benefit payment, but interest is also applied. This means you will ‘owe’ more than just the amount of the Defined Benefit you take early. Think of it like a loan account secured against a house, except the ‘house’ in this case is your Defined Benefit. 

It’s very important to understand the effect of the interest that is applied. Because it is compounding interest, an APSS 'other' offset account may actually grow faster than a Defined Benefit if the interest rates applied are high enough. 

We’ve prepared a fact sheet to help you understand how 'other' offset accounts work. Although it’s primarily written for members using their APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement, it’s just as relevant for members who have accessed their Defined Benefit early on compassionate grounds or because of financial hardship. Go to the fact sheetsOpens in new window section of this website and download the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement (Offset Accounts) for details.

Consider getting advice from a qualified financial adviser.


Compassionate grounds: COVID-19 measures

You may be able to access your super early as part of the Government's economic response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. From mid-April 2020, the law now enables eligible individuals to access up to $10,000 of their super in the 2019-20 financial year, and a further $10,000 in the 2020-21 financial year to help them deal with the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.

To apply for early release of your super under the scheme you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

  • you are unemployed; or
  • you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (including the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
  • on or after 1 January 2020:
    • you were made redundant; or
    • your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; or
    • if you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

Payments made under the scheme will be tax-free and will not impact on Centrelink or Veteran's Affairs payments. For more information, read the 'Early access to superannuation' fact sheetOpens in new window on the treasury.gov.au website, and the ATO website's information pageOpens in new window on 'COVID-19 early release of super'.

Applications for early release of super relating to COVID-19 must be made to the ATO through the myGov website. Sign inOpens in new window or find details on how to create a myGov accountOpens in new window if you do not already have one.

If the ATO approves your application, we will contact you in relation to your payment and will endeavour to pay you within 5 business days. If you have an APSS Defined Benefit, the payment will take about 10 business days from the date the APSS is notified of your request by the ATO. The longer period of time required where you have a Defined Benefit is because a manual process is involved. 

Employee members please note that an APSS 'other' offset account will be opened automatically for you if the money you access early comes from your APSS Defined Benefit. See the 'Warning!' above for more details, and make sure you understand the implications of having an 'other' offset account by reading the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement (Offset Accounts). Go to the fact sheetsOpens in new window section of this website and download the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement for details. 

Please call 1300 360 373 for more information before applying.


Compassionate grounds: General

In addition to early access on COVID-19 compassionate grounds, there are other compassionate grounds for early release of your super. You may qualify if you have to:

  • Pay for medical or dental treatment (or transport to that treatment) for you or your dependant - where at least two medical practitioners (including one specialist) certify that the illness or injury is life threatening or you are suffering acute or chronic pain or mental illness, and the treatment is not readily available through the public health system.
  • Pay arrears on the mortgage on your home to prevent foreclosure on the mortgage or your home being sold by your lender, in which case an amount approximately equal to three months of mortgage repayments may be released.
  • Modify your home or vehicle to accommodate special needs due to a severe disability affecting you or your dependant.
  • Pay for expenses associated with palliative care for a terminal illness suffered by you or your dependant, and there are other grounds for early release for people with terminal illness.
  • Pay for expenses associated with your dependant’s death, funeral or burial.

Your application will also need to demonstrate that you do not have the financial capacity to meet the expenses by other means, such as from savings, health insurance or workers' compensation. 

The ATO has more informationOpens in new window on how to apply on compassionate grounds and who is considered your dependant. Applications for release of super on compassionate grounds must be made to the ATO through the myGov website. Sign inOpens in new window or find details on how to create a myGov accountOpens in new window if you do not already have one. 

The ATO will consider whether you have met the eligibility criteria and will contact you about your application. If the ATO approves your application, you will need to call 1300 360 373 to arrange for release of your payment.

Employee members please note that an APSS 'other' offset account will be opened automatically for you if the money you access early comes from your APSS Defined Benefit. See the 'Warning!' above for more details, and make sure you understand the implications of having an 'other' offset account by reading the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement (Offset Accounts). Go to the fact sheetsOpens in new window section of this website and download the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement (Offset Accounts) for details. 

Please call 1300 360 373 for more information before applying.


Severe 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.

If requesting an early release of your super based on severe financial hardship you must:

  • Provide proof of financial hardship - documentary evidence to satisfy the Trustee that you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses (i.e. due and payable at the time of your application, as future expenses will generally not be considered unless it is an urgent expense payable in the immediate future).
  • Provide information about any assets you have that could reasonably be sold to meet your expenses (excluding your home).
  • Be receiving Commonwealth income-support payments and have received such support, continuously, for the last 26 weeks if you’re under your preservation age. 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. 

There are different criteria and access conditions if you've already reached your preservation age plus 39 weeks and are experiencing severe financial hardship. 

For more details and information on how to apply, go to the ATO’s website’s section on early access to your superOpens in new window and click the ‘access due to severe financial hardship’ link.

Employee members please note that an APSS 'other' offset account will be opened automatically for you if the money you access early comes from your APSS Defined Benefit. See the 'Warning!' above for more details, and make sure you understand the implications of having an 'other' offset account by reading the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement (Offset Accounts). Go to the fact sheetsOpens in new window section of this website and download the fact sheet headed Using your APSS Defined Benefit to transition to retirement (Offset Accounts) for details. 

Please call 1300 360 373 for more information before applying.


Permanent incapacity

If you have suffered 'permanent incapacity', then you may also qualify for early access to your super. 

You will be taken to be suffering from 'permanent incapacity' if the Trustee is reasonably satisfied that your ill-health (whether physical or mental) makes it unlikely that you will engage in gainful employment for which you are reasonably qualified by education, training or experience.

If you become totally and permanently disabled while employed by Australia Post or an Associated Employer, an additional benefit may be payable depending on the type of membership you have. It is important to remember that the criteria to be considered 'totally and permanently disabled' is different to the criteria to be considered 'permanently incapacitated'.

For further information, see the information on disability or deathOpens in new window on this website.

Employee Members only - go to the fact sheets Opens in new window section of this website to download the Making a claim for Total and Permanent Disablement fact sheet.

If you think this might apply to you, please call 1300 360 373 to discuss your options.


Terminal medical condition

We understand that if this condition of release applies to you this will be a very difficult time for you and your loved ones.

If you are suffering from a terminal medical condition, you may qualify for early access to your super (and also an insured benefit, if applicable). A terminal medical condition exists if all of the following are met:

  • You have been certified by two registered medical practitioners (either jointly or separately) as suffering from an illness, or having sustained an injury, that is likely to result in your death within 24 months (certification period).
  • At least one of the registered medical practitioners is a specialist practicing in an area related to your illness or injury.
  • The certification period has not ended.

For further information, see the see the ATO website’s sectionOpens in new window on ‘access to super for members with a terminal medical condition.

Please call us on 1300 360 373 to discuss your options.


First Home Super Saver Scheme

The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme is designed to enable first-home buyers to save their deposits faster with the concessional tax treatment within super.

If you are over 18 and have made voluntary concessional and/or non-concessional contributions to your APSS Member Savings account (including Employee, Spouse or Rollover accounts) under the FHSS Scheme, you may be eligible to have these savings released to you for the purposes of purchasing your first home. 

Your Spouse/partner may also be able to do this with their own superannuation account. 

This may apply to you if you are a first home buyer and both of the following apply:

  • You live in the premises you are buying, or intend to do so as soon as practicable.
  • You intend to live in the property for at least six months within the first 12 months you own it, after it is practical to move in.

You can apply to have a maximum of $15,000 of your eligible voluntary contributions from any one financial year released under the FHSS Scheme. A total cap of $30,000 applies across all years. You will also receive any earnings on those contributions.

Release under the FHSS Scheme is only available once, and you must have never owned property in Australia (including investment property or vacant land) to be eligible (subject to some exceptions). 

There are detailed requirements for eligibility and release under the FHSS Scheme. See the first home super saver scheme Opens in new window section on the ATO website for further details.


Leaving Australia permanently

Temporary residents departing Australia permanently

Generally, if you came to Australia on a temporary resident visa (not subclasses 405 and 410) and your visa has ceased, you have left Australia and you do not hold another active Australian visa, you may be eligible to access your superannuation after you leave Australia under the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment scheme (DASP).

You cannot access your super under DASP if you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or are an Australian permanent resident or applying to be one.

If this applies to you, you should make sure you make a claim for DASP from us within six months of your departure from Australia and the expiry of your temporary visa. If you don’t, we may be required to transfer your super to the ATO. 

After it is transferred, you’ll need to contact the ATO to claim your super. The amount transferred may earn interest, but at a low rate that may not be suitable for long term investments, so it is a good idea to claim your super quickly after permanently leaving Australia.

There's further information on DASPOpens in new window on the ATO website, which also provides access to the DASP online application system,Opens in new window which is the easiest way for you to apply.

Australian or New Zealanders moving across the Tasman

If you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen and are moving to New Zealand permanently, you may be able to access your super for the purposes of taking it with you, by transferring your super to a participating KiwiSaver fund. 

Eligibility for the Trans-Tasman retirement savings portability scheme will depend on what kind of APSS Member you are.

Employee members with a Defined Benefit are not able to transfer their Defined Benefit under the scheme.

There's further information on the Trans-Tasman retirement savings portability schemeOpens in new window on the ATO website.


This page contains general information only. It is not intended to be financial product advice and does not take your personal circumstances into account. Before acting on any information contained in this document you should first consider its appropriateness to your own circumstances. You should also consider the Product Disclosure Statement that applies to your interest in the APSS, available on this apss.com.au website on the Product DisclosureOpens in new window page under the 'Publications & Forms' tab. You may wish to seek the advice of a licensed financial or tax adviser. Neither PostSuper Pty Ltd (the Trustee) nor Australia Post or any Associated Employers holds an Australian Financial Services Licence and, therefore neither is licensed to provide you with financial product advice.