Superannuation accounts have restrictions on when you can access the money. There is a set minimum age called a preservation age which ranges from 55 to 60 depending on your age.
Once you are retired and you have reached your preservation age you can access your funds (or if you have reached 65 you do not have to be retired).
Some people with old super accounts may be able to access some of the funds if they have a condition of unrestricted non-preserved. In most cases you need to satisfy a condition of release for the fund to become unrestricted.
There may be some circumstances that allow you to get early release of superannuation.
You can make a claim to the Department of Human Services on one or more of the following compassionate grounds.
This includes if you need to pay for medical or dental treatment, if you need to pay for transport to medical or dental treatment, for mortgage assistance, modification to your home or vehicle (in case of severe disability), if you need to pay for a terminal medical condition or for funeral assistance. These may be for yourself or for a dependant.
Your superannuation fund requires approval from the DHS before release of any funds though the amount will be restricted to what is deemed reasonably required.
Severe financial hardship
You can apply for a one lump sum payment ranging from $1000 to $10,000 if you have been receiving Commonwealth support payment for 26 continuous weeks.
Severe financial hardship is when you are unable to pay for reasonable and immediate family living expenses. These expenses should cover items such as outstanding bills.
You can only apply once every 12 months and this is done directly with your superannuation fund. Release of these funds may effect any income support payments.
Again this condition of release should be done with your superannuation fund. If you can not be employed temporarily due to physical or mental ill health you may be eligible to receive some of your super monies as an income stream (regular payments not a lump sum). If you are receiving sick leave benefits this condition will not be eligible.
To be eligible for this condition you need to verify that you are unlikely to ever be employed for what you are reasonable qualified for (by education, training or experience) due to physical or mental ill health. You must have 2 medical professionals verify this. You apply to your super fund and you may be eligible to receive your entire super balance.
Once a person dies, the super fund must pay out the balance to a person’s estate or beneficiaries.
If you are a temporary resident who was working in Australia you may be eligible to claim your super after leaving Australia.
Balance is less than $200
If the balance of your account is under $200 and you have terminated your employment you can access your super. This is also the case if the super account was lost and under $200.
Transition to Retirement
If you have not yet retired but have reached the preservation age you can convert your super fund to a transition to retirement pension which gives you income payments to supplement your salary. People often do this when they start winding down their working hours.
Important things to note
Being able to access some or your entire super early may help you aid in paying off any debts without taking out further loans. Beware though that the funds that are released early may be taxed at a higher rate and there may be excess fees charged for accessing it earlier. It will also deplete your super fund more quickly leaving you with less when you actually need it.
Always seek financial advice before doing so to see how it would affect you and what options are available.