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Returning to work after retirement

You can return to work after you've already retired, however there are some rules depending on your age.

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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 birthPreservation age
Before 1 July 196055
1 July 1960–30 June 196156
1 July 1961–30 June 196257
1 July 1962–30 June 196358
1 July 1963–30 June 196459
From 1 July 196460

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.

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26 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ClintonMarch 28, 2019

    Can I go back to work after cashing in my super? I am not retired. I am on Centrelink.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMarch 30, 2019Staff

      Hi Clinton,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      As per this page, you may still work even after cashing in your super. With regard to your Centrelink benefit, please note that there’s a maximum amount you can earn to be eligible for the pension. Kindly refer to the Australian Age Pension eligibility requirements for more details.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. Default Gravatar
    keithFebruary 20, 2019

    I am 62. I am retired and got my super as a lump sum which i use as a monthly pay cheque. Can i access the rest of my super pay out to buy my own business and continue to work as sole operator?
    Regards
    Keith

    • Default Gravatar
      NikkiFebruary 21, 2019

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Yes, you are allowed to go to work even after retirement while receiving your super monthly. If you need to access the rest of your super, just contact your provider and ask how this will be processed. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

  3. Default Gravatar
    GlenJanuary 6, 2019

    Do I still get $200,000 low cap tax free if I have to go back to work?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MaiJanuary 8, 2019Staff

      Thanks for your dropping by.

      Please note that the low-rate cap amount is a ‘lifetime’ limit. This means that the taxed and untaxed elements of all superannuation lump sum payments that you receive when you have reached your preservation age but before you turn 60 years old will be taxed at a concessional rate until your total reaches the low-rate cap amount ($200,000 plus future indexed increases).

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Mai

  4. Default Gravatar
    JohnJanuary 2, 2019

    HI, I am below retirement age but I’m in a defined benefit scheme (PSS) and taking a redundancy. This allows me to access my super as a pensioner as long as I have a genuine intention to retire. Is there any law on what a genuine intention is, and what happens if at a later date you change your mind, which they say can happen. My main concern is if it is deemed not a genuine intention, what are the consequences.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaJanuary 3, 2019Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. You have a very interesting question there.

      First of all, the genuine intention is difficult to prove by simply stating that you want to retire. Thus, the majority of super funds require you to sign a declaration that you don’t intend to work again and if ever you would like to work, you can only work in less than 10 hours a week. Of course, this may vary. In some cases, you would even be required to prove your genuine intention to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

      Now, if you ever change your mind, you can still work provided that you prove to your fund that your intention to retire at the time you declared it is really genuine.

      If ever you went back to work, this will affect the amount of money you receive. It may be reduced or even be completely canceled out, depending on your situation.

      It would be wise to speak to your super fund to obtain personalized advice. Moreover, you can also visit the Department of Employment page to check your options if you ever re-enter the workforce.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  5. Default Gravatar
    AmbroseDecember 12, 2018

    Hi I am turning 67 in March 2019 and have due to personal reasons had to access most of my super when I reached preservation age. I currently work full time (84 hours+) a fortnight but am beginning to find it difficult to carry on due to financial and personal reasons and 2 knee injuries at work in the past 6 weeks reasons. If I retire now would I be eligible for the age related pension and how much would I get a fortnight. I am currently single and separated (proceedings are underway for a property/assets settlement with my estranged partner).

    Would appreciate your advice.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayDecember 19, 2018Staff

      Hi Ambrose,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Even when you have already accessed your super before, since you went back for work after retirement, you will still be eligible to receive pension when you retire. As to how much, that I’m afraid I don’t have the information about as well as the base computation. You’d be best to contact and ask your super fund, financial adviser or the ATO for information on your specific circumstances.

      Hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

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