Returning to work after retirement

You can return to work after you've already retired, however there are some limits.

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You can return to work after you've already accessed your super - here's how it works.

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, you will need to prove that your personal circumstances have changed, and that you are required to return to work.

At the time you retired and first accessed your super benefits, your intention to retire must have been genuine. This is why you’ll find that most super funds require you to sign a declaration when you retire, stating that you never again intend to be gainfully employed for more than 10 hours a week.

So, if your retirement savings take a hit or you decide you miss the independence and social connectedness of working, you’ll need to prove to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority that your intention to retire was genuine and that you didn’t plan to return to work all along.

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. You're entitled to work less than 10 hours a week and still be considered officially 'retired', with full access to your super. Anything between 10 hours and 30 hours a week is considered part-time. It's important to note that if you decide to simply reduce your hours at your current job prior to retiring down to less than 10 hours, it's still not considered retiring.

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 9.5% (as of 2017). And, if you're over the age of 65 you will need to complete a work test requirement before going back to work part-time or full-time. 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. 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 of upcoming superannuation changes, set to take effect on 30 June 2017, which will impose 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.

What if I return to part-time work?

Part-time work offers many potential benefits to retirees, from increased social contact to some extra retirement income. But remember, “part-time” is defined as being between 10 and 30 hours of work a week, so if you wish to access super benefits when you retire, you can’t have any intention to return to part-time work.

On the other hand, if you return to work for less than 10 hours a week, you will still be considered retired and this will not have any impact on your super.

Whether you need a little extra money or you’ve simply grown bored of retirement, it is possible to return to work even after accessing super benefits. Ask your accountant or financial adviser for details on what going back to work will mean for you and your super.

When can I retire?

You're free to retire from the workforce at any age, but if you want to access your super benefits 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

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 retirement 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

    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!


    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?

      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!


    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!


    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!


    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.


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