Who can access their super early

There are eligibility rules you need to meet to access your super early.

You normally can’t get your super until you reach your preservation age and retire. Preservation age is usually between 55 and 60, depending on your birth year. You can read about when you can withdraw and use your super on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

In some cases, you may be able to get some of your super early. You’ll need to meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • be in severe financial hardship
  • have a terminal illness
  • be a temporary resident
  • have less than $200 in your super fund
  • meet compassionate grounds.

Read full details about early access to super on the ATO website.

If you’re in severe financial hardship

Your super fund will decide if you can access your super early because of severe financial hardship. We don’t decide if you can access your super early or if you’re in severe financial hardship.

Your super fund assesses your application for an early release of super due to financial hardship according to the rules in the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994. Decisions aren’t made under the Social Security Act (SSA) which means we can’t review or change a decision your super fund makes.

According to the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 you’re considered to be in severe financial hardship if:

  • you’re unable to pay for reasonable and immediate essential family living costs
  • you’ve been getting an eligible income support payment from us for 26 weeks continuously with no gaps
  • you’re getting an eligible income support payment on the day you apply for an early release of super.

Read more about the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 on the Federal Register of Legislation website.

There are different rules if you’re over preservation age and haven’t retired. You must meet all of the following:

  • you’ve reached your preservation age plus 39 weeks
  • you get an income support payment for at least 39 weeks in total since you reached your preservation age.
  • you’ll still be out of retirement, which means you’re looking for work, studying, working full or part time.

Your super fund may also consider other factors when making their decision. You should ask them what their eligibility requirements are.

If you’re over preservation age and retired

If you’re over your preservation age and retired, you can access your super under normal conditions. You should contact your super fund.

Eligible payments

The Department of Treasury decides which income support payments allow you to apply for your super early. Most income support payments are eligible but there are some that aren’t.

Payments that aren’t eligible

You can’t access your super early if you get one of these income support payments:

  • Austudy
  • Youth Allowance as a full-time student.

Other reasons that can make you ineligible

Other things can make you unable to meet the income support requirements or reset your continuous period to zero. This can include any of these:

  • you didn’t get any Centrelink payment in one or more fortnights in the last 26 weeks. This includes when you had a non-payment period because of non-compliance or no payment entitlement due to the earnings you declared being too high to receive any payment.
  • your payment was suspended for 14 days or more
  • you only get an allowance such as Family Tax Benefit or Carer Allowance
  • you were in prison or went overseas and had a gap in your payment of 14 days or more
  • you changed your income support payment type and had a gap of more than one day
  • you weren’t getting an eligible income support payment at the time you submitted your application to your super fund
  • you have a New Zealand non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV).
Page last updated: 8 April 2024.
QC 43171