Superannuation is a long term savings structure to help fund your retirement.

Types of superannuation

Superannuation investments include:

  • retail funds
  • industry, corporate, public sector and other employer funds
  • self-managed superannuation funds
  • small APRA funds
  • retirement savings accounts.

How it works

Each superannuation fund:

  • has trustees who run it
  • has its own written rules and terms
  • must also follow government rules.

Where the money comes from

Payments into your superannuation fund come from any of the following:

  • your employer if you have a job
  • you as an employee or self-employed person
  • the government in some cases
  • you adding funds from the sale of downsizing your home.

Downsizing superannuation contributions may affect your income support payment. Before you make a decision, we recommend you either:

Read about Downsizer superannuation contributions on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Over time these amounts build into a larger investment that earns income. Superannuation investments also have tax benefits.

When you retire

You can choose to get the fund to pay you the money in your account either:

  • as a lump sum
  • as a superannuation pension.

You can also choose to keep the money in superannuation.

How it affects payments from us

While you’re under Age Pension age

We don’t count you or your partner’s superannuation in the income and assets tests, if your fund isn’t paying you a superannuation pension. If your fund is paying you a superannuation pension, it is assessable as an income stream. How it is assessed depends on the type of income stream.

When you reach Age Pension age

We count your superannuation both:

  • in the assets test - the value is the balance on your latest statement
  • in the income test under the deeming rules.

The same rules apply to your partner and their super when they are Age Pension age, even if they are not getting a payment from us.

Most funds allow you to access your superannuation investment, but some funds restrict access while you are still working. If you’re unable to access your superannuation investment, you may be able to have it exempted from the income and assets tests. To find out more call the Older Australians line and speak to a FIS Officer.

Watch our video to learn more about superannuation at Age Pension age.

When you withdraw it

Taking money out of superannuation doesn’t affect payments from us. But what you do with the money may. For instance we’ll count it in your income and assets tests if you either:

Getting it before you retire

Normally you can only take money out of your superannuation fund either:

  • after you reach preservation age
  • if your funds are non-preserved.

Preservation age

With most superannuation funds you can’t get access to your money until the following apply to you:

  • retire from the workforce
  • reach a set age.

Preservation age is:

  • 55 for people born before 1 July 1960
  • slightly older each year after that
  • 60 for people born after 30 June 1964.

Early access to superannuation

You may be able to apply for early access. There are strict rules about who can do this. You need to talk to your superannuation fund first.

Read more about early access to superannuation on the Australian Taxation Office website.

More information

To find out more:

For an introduction to superannuation, watch our FIS webinar recording, Superannuation basics. The webinar is presented by a FIS Officer and you can watch it at any time, at no cost. You don’t need to get a payment from us to watch our webinars.

Page last updated: 4 April 2024.
QC 27271