Returning to work after retirement
You can return to work after you've already retired, however there are some rules depending on your age.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
Can you return to work after you've retired and accessed your super?
The good news is that, yes, you will usually be allowed to return to work after retiring and accessing your super benefits. Even if you’ve taken a lump sum super payout or are receiving ongoing payments from your super fund, you still have the right to rejoin the workforce. However, depending on your age, you may need to prove that your personal circumstances have changed, and that you are required to return to work.
Returning to work if you're aged under 65
You're free to retire from the workforce at any age, but if you want to access your super you must also have reached your preservation age. The preservation age for Australians born before 1 July 1960 is 55 years old, while anyone born on or after this date has a preservation age of between 56 and 60. You can check your preservation age from the table below.
|Date of birth||Preservation age|
|Before 1 July 1960||55|
|1 July 1960–30 June 1961||56|
|1 July 1961–30 June 1962||57|
|1 July 1962–30 June 1963||58|
|1 July 1963–30 June 1964||59|
|From 1 July 1964||60|
If you've reached your preservation age and want to retire and access your super, you need to declare your genuine intention to retire and never work again. Most super funds require you to sign a declaration when you retire, stating that you never again intend to be gainfully employed. gainfully employed is considered working for more than 10 hours a week.
However, if your retirement savings take a hit or you decide you miss the independence and social connectedness of working, you can return to work. You can also do this while still accessing your super. You might need to prove to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that your intention to retire was genuine and that you didn’t plan to return to work all along.
Returning to work if you're over 65
Turning 65 is a condition of release for superannuation, which means you can access your super regardless of if you're working or not. You only need to be retired if you want to access your super before you turn 65.
If you're over 65, retired and accessing your super you can decide to rejoin the workforce at any time, for any reason.
If I return to work after retirement, how much can I earn?
There's no limit to how much you can earn if you return to work after retirement.
However, once you return to work and earn more than $450 a month, your employer will be required to make superannuation contributions at the current rate of 10% into your super fund.
And, if you're over the age of 67 you will need to complete a work test requirement if you intend to make any voluntary contributions into your super fund. These are contributions you make yourself, not those that your employer is required to make for you. To pass the work test you need to prove you've been employed for more than 40 hours in a 30-day period during the year.
Once you reach age 75 you can still work however no super contributions can be made.
What happens to my account-based pension?
If, when you retired, you had the genuine intention of retiring permanently, your super fund would have been released, allowing you to begin a super pension (or take a lump sum payment). If your circumstances change and you return to work, this account-based pension can continue to be paid.
This is because the pension contains unrestricted, non-preserved super benefits, which can be accessed at any time as long as you satisfy the rules of the super fund and the pension itself. Ask your super fund, financial adviser or the ATO for information on your specific circumstances and how returning to work could affect your account-based pension.
It’s also important to be aware that there's a $1.6 million balance cap on pension income streams. If your pension balance remains under this cap, your pension remains tax free. But if you exceed the cap, penalty tax applies to the amount over the limit.
Will I be forced to stop working when I reach my preservation age?
No, you will not be forced to stop working on your 60th birthday! You're entitled to keep working as long as you'd like, and once you turn 65 you're entitled to access your super benefits while still working. The preservation age is for those who wish to stop working, and access their superannuation.
What are the benefits to returning to work after retirement?
- Creates a greater sense of purpose and direction
- Provides a stable routine
- The opportunity to try new jobs and industries which you may have always wanted to try, but never did
- Extra income to supplement your super
- Keeps your mind active
- Cures boredom
- Provides an opportunity to pass on your skills / teach a younger generation
- Working, even in small amounts, makes you appreciate your time off a lot more
- Good opportunity to socialise and meet new people
If you haven't yet reached your preservation age but you need to access your superannuation, there are situations when you can access it early. Read our guide to early release of superannuation for all the details.
More guides on Finder
Spouse super contributions
Spouse super contributions allow you to grow your partner’s super balance and also save money on tax. Here’s how spouse super contributions work.
Worst Super Funds
Here’s a current list of the worst-performing super funds in Australia and steps for how to switch to a better fund.
Kogan Super | Performance, features and fees
Kogan Super offers 5 different investment options that each have low fees and mostly follow an indexed investment approach.
Retirement planning in Australia
This guide explains how to devise a superannuation strategy that works for you and how to plan for further income in old age, and gives you tips for pulling it all together.
Superhero Super: How to invest your super with Superhero
Superhero Super offers two different investment options which both give members more control over how their super is invested. Here's how the super account works.
What is superannuation?
Superannuation is the main way of saving for your retirement in Australia. Your superannuation is one big investment portfolio in your name that's managed for you by your super fund.
Superannuation statistics 2022
There are 23.2 million super accounts in Australia with assets totaling $3.4 trillion. Find out the latest superannuation statistics.
International Women’s Day Report 2021
Finder's International Women's Day report explores the personal finance gap between men and women and the key drivers of financial inequality.
Ask an Expert