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When Can Superannuation be Accessed Early?

When Can Superannuation be Accessed Early?

There are very limited circumstances under which you can access your super funds early. Learn more about conditions of early release here.

15th July 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Needless to say, your super funds are for retirement. But at times when you are financially stretched, it is normal for you to be thinking of that little pot of gold and how you can get your hands on it before your ‘preservation age’. The good news is that there are ways to give your funds an early release should you need it. However, the circumstances under which an early access to your super savings can be granted are very limited.

Here’s some helpful information about when you may be able to access your super early.

Am I Eligible?

In order to get your super released early, you must meet one of these eligibility requirements:

  • Be in severe financial hardship
  • Meet a compassionate ground
  • Have a severe terminal medical condition
  • Be temporarily incapacitated
  • Be permanently incapacitated
  • Have a super balance of less than $200
  • Be a temporary resident

Severe Financial Hardship

You may be able to withdraw some of your super if you’ve been on an income support payment for more than 26 weeks in a row and you can’t cover your immediate family living expenses. You can apply directly to your super fund for an early release of super. However, before applying for early access to super due to financial hardship, keep in mind that this early release may reduce your Centrelink payments.

Compassionate Grounds

To be eligible to access your super on compassionate grounds you must demonstrate that the funds are required to pay:

  • For medical treatment or medical transport for you or a dependant
  • A loan to prevent your home being sold
  • To modify your home or motor vehicle to accommodate for special needs of you or a dependant arising from a severe disability
  • Expenses associated with the care for terminal medical condition for you or a dependant
  • Expenses associated with a death, funeral or burial for a dependant

Read full details on the early release of super on compassionate grounds.

Terminal Medical Condition

You may be eligible for an early access to your super if you’ve been diagnosed as terminally ill. But, to qualify, you will need two medical practitioners to certify that you have less than 24 months to live, and one of those practitioners must specialise in an area related to your illness or injury.

Temporary Incapacity

If you suffer from any physical or mental condition that leaves you temporarily unable to engage in gainful employment, or only be able to work reduced hours, you can apply for an early release of your super funds. Accordingly, you can receive your super in regular payments during that time.

Permanent Incapacity

If your fund is satisfied that you are permanently incapacitated, you can apply for an early release of super. To do so, you’ll need to prove to your fund that you have a permanent physical or mental condition that will most likely prevent you from working again in a job which you are suitably qualified.

Balance less than $200

If you change 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.

Temporary residents

Those who live temporarily live in Australia can access their super fund; however, you cannot get an early release of your super based on compassionate grounds. Certain events that make you eligible to access your super are death, terminal illness, incapacity, unclaimed money payment or if you are leaving Australia for good.

You may also be able to withdraw ATO held super accounts- check the eligibility criteria.


Assessing your super early can be difficult and extra caution should be taken before making that big decision. Firstly, you could refer to the trust deed of your superannuation provider to understand how the trust operates. Moreover, consider getting legal advice about whether an early release of your super funds is appropriate for your individual circumstances. For further help, connect with one of our super lawyers here.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

Anupa Dhital

Anupa is a Legal Intern at Lawpath, and is currently in her final year of studying Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University.