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When can I access my super?

The age you're eligible to access your super depends on which year you were born, with the earliest being 55 years old. Here's when (and how) you can access your super.

What is superannuation?

Superannuation is a fundamental part of the Australian retirement plan, offering workers the opportunity to save for the future with each paycheck. While most people are aware that superannuation is designed for retirement, questions often arise about when the funds become accessible.

Superannuation savings grow over your working life, thanks to regular contributions. While you can contribute extra funds, withdrawing from your superannuation account is subject to specific criteria known as "conditions of release." These rules, defined by superannuation laws, might vary slightly based on your super fund. It's important to understand these conditions to know when you can access your funds.

When can I access my super?

In general, you can access your super when you meet a condition of release.

  • Condition 1: You've reached your preservation age (more on this below) and retired
  • Condition 2: You've reached your preservation age and changed your employment in order to start a transition to retirement pension
  • Conditions 3: You've turned 65

Note that you only need to meet one of these conditions, not all, to be able to access your super.

What is preservation age?

Your preservation age is the age at which you can access super if you have retired. Your preservation age is calculated based on when you were born, as outlined in 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

Is preservation age the same as pension age?

No, preservation age differs from pension age. Preservation age is when you can access your superannuation upon retirement or when transitioning to a retirement pension account. In contrast, the age pension is a government payment designed to provide income to eligible Australians who may not have sufficient means, like superannuation, to retire comfortably. The pension age is being gradually increased from 65 to 67 years, depending on your birth year.

Finder survey: At what age would Australians like to retire?

Response
6519.82%
6018.03%
7014.84%
558.07%
504.88%
754.68%
673.98%
622.99%
682.49%
661.79%
451.29%
691.29%
581.1%
801.1%
631%
400.8%
610.8%
590.7%
350.6%
710.6%
720.6%
780.6%
560.5%
640.5%
740.5%
760.5%
850.5%
900.5%
1000.4%
460.4%
570.4%
520.3%
270.2%
300.2%
330.2%
410.2%
430.2%
730.2%
770.2%
1010.1%
250.1%
260.1%
280.1%
340.1%
360.1%
370.1%
380.1%
390.1%
40.1%
420.1%
440.1%
470.1%
510.1%
540.1%
60.1%
790.1%
80.1%
870.1%
950.1%
980.1%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023

What are the conditions for the release of my super?

Now that these terms are clear, let's explore these conditions and delve into additional circumstances that may permit early access to superannuation.

Accessing your super at your preservation age

So if you were born after 1964, you'll need to wait until you're 60 and also retired to access your super. Note that if you pan to retire and access your super at this age, your intention to retire must be genuine and your super fund will likely get you to sign a declaration on this.

Starting a transition to retirement pension

If you've reached your preservation age and want to start accessing your super without having to retire, you can start a transition to retirement pension instead.

This involves speaking with your super fund and transferring some of your balance into an account-based pension that you can access. The rest of your balance stays in your super fund.

This allows you to continue to work, or reduce your hours and work part time, while starting to access some of your super as a way of easing into retirement. While this can be a useful way to supplement your income, keep in mind that the sooner you start accessing the sooner it will be gone. See if you've got enough money to retire by checking out guide on this.

Accessing your super at age 65 and older

Once you turn 65 you can access your super with or without needing to retire. This is because turning 65 is a condition of release in itself - you only need to retire if you're planning to access your super before you turn 65.

You have the choice of receiving your super as one lump sum payout, or setting up an account-based pension and receiving a portion of your balance each year like a salary.

How you can access your super early?

Certain exceptions allow early access to superannuation.

If you don't meet one of the above conditions of release, it's very difficult to access your super. However, there are some situations when you can be grated early release of your super. These grounds are very limited and include:

On compassionate grounds

You can make a claim for an early superannuation release on one or more of the following compassionate grounds:

  • Medical treatment
  • Mortgage assistance
  • Home or motor vehicle modifications
  • Palliative care
  • Funeral assistance

Severe financial hardship

If you are experiencing financial hardship and have been receiving income support from Centrelink for at least 26 weeks, you may be able to access your super early by contacting your superannuation directly.

Balance is less than $200

If you changed jobs and the contributions you have made is less than $200, then you will be granted access. Likewise is true if you have found your lost account with a balance of less than $200.

Permanent disability and death

Death and permanent incapacity can also allow you access; provided that you have complete medical proof that you will be unable to work again.

Protect your super

Getting to the point where you can tap into your super is pretty exciting—it's like your past self giving a high-five to your future self for all that hard work. But as you get ready to enjoy the rewards, stay sharp! There are a number of scams related to super, so make sure you're on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious when you're looking to withdraw your super early.

But at the same time, avoid falling victim to scams or fraudulent schemes related to early superannuation access. Scams in the super space are common, and they can come from all angles, trying to tempt you with early access to your funds. So, if something seems off, trust your gut and double-check.

Make sure to check your financial advisor is licenced if you decide to use one. If you fall victim to scam it can put your retirement at risk, so make sure you take steps to protect your identity and check if a company or person you are talking to is licenced with ASIC. If you're unsure, you can contact your super fund or ASIC directly.

More guides on Finder

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16 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    KentFebruary 20, 2020

    I am about to loose my job, I am 56 years of age, born November 1963, I will be getting a package, that should last me until I get to my Super Preservation age of 59, I don’t entend to get another job – can I access my full fund at this time or only a proportion of it?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiFebruary 21, 2020

      Hi Kent,

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you are doing well.

      As you are 56 years of age, this is a year over the preservation age of 55. This means you can access your superannuation fund when you are about to retire or stops working. According to our review, the most common conditions of release that allow you to access super benefits early are:

      • Reaching your preservation age and retiring
      • Reaching your preservation age and starting a transition to retirement pension while continuing to work
      • Reaching 65 years of age (even if you have not retired)
      • Being aged 60 to 64 years and ceasing an employment arrangement.
      • Passing away (in this case, your super death benefits will go to your nominated beneficiaries)

      Contact your superfund to know the full process of accessing your super. Should you have further questions, please feel free to message back anytime.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    CarolJuly 19, 2019

    Hello. I am 62 years old nearly 63. I am going to retire at the end of this year. I would like to take a lump sum as I have reached my preservation age, will this be possible.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJuly 20, 2019

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for your question. You can very well receive your super as a super income stream, super lump sum or a combination of both. Check with your fund to find out what options are available to you.

      The super withdrawal option that you choose may affect the amount of tax you pay and the amount of money you have for your retirement so check this with the Australian Taxation Office as well.

      Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    StuartDecember 12, 2018

    Hi I’m 58 years old and still working, I don’t make any contributions myself
    I need a fair bit of work done on my teeth am I able too take some of the funds from my super account

      AvatarFinder
      MayDecember 18, 2018Finder

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for your question.

      I understand that you’d want to get access to your super funds. Generally, you can access your super when you reach the preservation age (which starts at 55 years old) or during retirement. However, these are not the only requirements, but you also need to meet specific eligibility criteria so you’ll be approved. The grounds you’d need to be mindful of includes:

      1. Specified compassionate grounds;
      2. Severe financial Hardship;
      3. Temporary residents;
      4. Retirement;
      5. Balance is less than $200;
      6. Changed status of employment;
      7. Permanent disability and death.

      Each of this ground is explained in detail above.

      You may also want to check the guide about accessing your super early, which you might find useful.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      May

    Default Gravatar
    BiancaJuly 24, 2018

    I want to pay for my dads funeral from my super fund care super as I’m going through hard ship

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJuly 24, 2018

      Hi Bianca!

      Thanks for your message.

      Sorry to hear about your Dad’s funeral.

      Generally, you can use your savings from your Superfund after the age of 55.

    Default Gravatar
    TravisJune 2, 2018

    Is there any way I can transfer approximately $40,000 from a super industry account to a smsf and then use that money to invest in anything I choose?

      AvatarFinder
      JeniJune 3, 2018Finder

      Hi Travis,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Basically, you just have to complete the rollover initiation request form to transfer whole balance of superannuation benefits to your self-managed super fund. Since you mentioned a certain amount to transfer, I suggest that you visit Australian Securities and Investments Commission website at http://www.moneysmart.gov.au or the ATO website at http://www.ato.gov.au/super. regarding this matter or simply phone the ATO on 13 10 20.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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