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Accessing super early

At legalsuper, we know that sometimes things don't go according to plan. Super is a long-term investment for your retirement, and you normally can’t access it until you’ve reached your preservation age. However, there are some special circumstances where you may be eligible to access your super early.

We're here to help

Before applying to access super early we encourage you to talk to one of our Client Service Managers for advice to help you make the right decision for your needs. You can speak to a member of our Client Service Team by calling 1800 060 213 or contact us online.

Financial hardship

Superannuation law only allows us to release benefits to fund members prior to retirement in specific circumstances. This means that you must meet eligibility criteria (which are explained  below). You may also be taxed on funds withdrawn depending on your age and whether you’ve given us your tax file number.

Work out if you're eligible

1. Find your preservation age

Your preservation age is generally the earliest age you can access your super, and it's calculated based on your date of birth. It's called preservation age because your super is a preserved benefit – you can’t normally access it until you reach a certain age. It is not the same as retirement age.

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

2. Check eligibility criteria

You must meet all of the criteria for your age bracket and have been a member with legalsuper for at least six months.

You're under your preservation age

  • You have been on an eligible Commonwealth Government income support payment for a continuous period of 26 weeks (roughly six months), AND
  • You are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.

Then the maximum you can apply to withdraw is $10,000 in a 12-month period.

You’re over your preservation age

  • You have been on an eligible Commonwealth Government income support payment for a cumulative period of 39 weeks (roughly 9 months) after you have reached your preservation age, AND
  • You are not gainfully employed on a full or part-time basis.

Then you can apply to withdraw any amount.

What documents do you need to apply?

Identity and membership information

  • Provide identity details and authorise us to check them – e.g., Medicare card number, passport or driver’s license numbers, OR
  • Provide certified copies of identity documents or authorise us to check your identity using information you provide.

Government support 

  • Provide your Centrelink Reference Number (CRN) and authorise us to check that you have received a payment for that fortnight/pay period.

Claim amount and bank account 

  • Tell us how much you would like to withdraw and where to deposit funds.

Evidence to support your claim

  • If you’re under preservation age, we may ask you to provide recent evidence to support your claim of serious hardship. Your evidence should support your current financial circumstances. Any documents you provide should be dated within three months of supplying them.

How much can be paid?

The maximum amount depends on which eligibility criteria you meet. Please note that reducing your super balance can affect any insurance you have with us.

The minimum amount is either:

  • $1000, OR
  • Your full balance if it is less than $1000

Compassionate grounds

Compassionate grounds include needing money to pay for certain outstanding expenses such as medical care, dental treatment, and mortgage repayments. If you require financial assistance for any of these reasons, you may be eligible to access your super early on compassionate grounds.

For further information go to the ATO website.

Work out if you're eligible

A request to claim an early super payment on compassionate grounds can only be considered if you meet all the qualifying conditions. If you believe that you meet these conditions, you can apply to make a claim. Complete each step correctly and include all required supporting documentation.

Condition 1

Early release of super is needed for:

  • Medical or dental treatment
  • Mortgage repayments
  • Home or vehicle modification

You meet the requirements for the ground on which you applied.

Condition 2

You have not yet paid the expense. We can only approve compassionate release of super to assist with unpaid expenses.

Condition 3

You cannot afford to pay part or all of the expense without accessing your super. That is, you can’t pay the expense by:

  • Getting a loan
  • Using your savings
  • Selling shares, investments, or assets.

Condition 4

You are, or have been, a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand.

Current temporary residents, and former temporary residents who are not current Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents are also not eligible.

Condition 5

You supply, with your application, all required supporting evidence including all unpaid invoices and/or or quotes.

How to make a claim?

To make a claim on compassionate grounds, you must apply through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). If the ATO approves the early release of your super, you can then apply to us for a Benefit payment.

Step 1: Gather the evidence to support your claim

The evidence needed to access your super early is different for each of the situations under which you may be eligible. Full details of the evidence required for each situation can be found on the ATO website.

Step 2: Complete the ATO application form

You can complete the form online. Simply link your myGov account to the ATO and navigate to the ATO Online Services page. You can also request a paper application form.

Step 3: Wait for ATO approval

The process takes up to 14 days for online applications, and up to 28 for paper applications. The ATO will advise both you, and legalsuper, if your application to claim is approved.

If your application to the ATO has been approved, you can then apply to us directly for the early release of your superannuation.

Step 4: Prepare your submission to legalsuper

In addition to the early release form, your submission must include:

  • The ATO letter of approval
  • Proof of identity documents as outlined on the application form, unless you have already provided us with certified copies of these documents
  • A copy of your bank statement, if you would like us to pay your directly to your bank account.

Make sure the declaration on the form is signed and dated before submitting.

Step 5: Submit your completed form and documents

Once we receive your application form and documents, we match these with the ATO approval advice. We will let you know if you need to provide further information.

Please allow three to five business days for your application to be processed and for payment to be made.

How much can I withdraw?

Super accessed before reaching preservation age will not usually be tax free. See our Financial hardship guide (on this page) to work out your preservation age. 

The taxable component of a payment made before preservation age is taxed at 20%, in addition to any applicable levies. The amount of super you can withdraw is limited to what you reasonably require to meet the outstanding expense or expenses.

Financial Wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is a measure of how comfortably you’re able to meet your current commitments and how comfortable you will be in the future to continue with these commitments. A large part of financial wellbeing is understanding how money works and how to manage it can impact our behaviour, attitude to money and how we can best cope with change.

At legalsuper, we believe that financial wellbeing is important for everyone. If you're struggling with your own financial wellbeing and need some guidance, there is help available to you. 

Helpful resources

Australian Government, Department of Social Services (Communities and Vulnerable People)

The Australian Government, in partnership with community organisations, provides support to eligible individuals and families experiencing financial crises and help build financial wellbeing, financial capability, and resilience for vulnerable people and those most at risk of financial and social inclusion and disadvantage. People can acquire budgeting and financial literacy skills to help navigate through debt and learn strategies to better manage their money and become financially independent through the Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity.

Financial Counselling Australia 

FCA is the national voice for the financial counselling profession in Australia. It is a not-for-profit organisation that:

  • Provides resources and support for financial counsellors.
  • Advocates for a fairer marketplace.
  • Works to raise the profile of financial counsellors.
  • Advocates to increase access to financial counselling; and
  • Works to improve hardship processes for people in financial difficulty.

National Debt helpline

National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit service that helps people tackle their debt problems.