Early access to super

Super is designed to provide income for you when you retire—that’s why it’s generally not accessible until you reach your preservation age. However, it is recognised that in some situations you may need to access your super early.

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 Depending on your age, the eligibility requirements will vary.

 If you are under your Preservation Age

You are able to apply for early release of super if you:

  • have been in receipt of eligible Commonwealth income support payments for 26 continuous weeks; and
  • can demonstrate you’re unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses

The minimum amount that can be paid is $1,000 unless your account balance is lower than $1000, in which case you can apply for the release of your total account balance. The maximum amount we are able to release early is $10,000 gross.

You will only be able to apply for early release of super once in a 12 month period


If you have reached your Preservation Age

You are able to apply for early release of super if you:

  • have been in receipt of eligible Commonwealth income support payments for 39 cumulative weeks since reaching your preservation age; and
  • are not gainfully employed at the time you lodge your application.

The minimum amount you can apply for is $1,000 unless your account balance is lower than $1000, in which case you can apply for the release of your total account balance. There is no maximum withdrawal amount.

Eligible Commonwealth income support payments

Income support payments must be made by Centrelink, or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). 

 Eligible Centrelink payments are

  • Age Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
     

Eligible DVA income support payments are:

  • Age service pension

  • Invalidity service pension

  • Partner service pension

  • Income support supplement for war widows or widowers

Incapacity payments from DVA are not considered eligible.


How can I apply?

To apply for early release on the grounds of severe financial hardship, please complete the Early Access (severe financial hardship) form and send it to us. 

Early Access forms

EAFR02 Early access – severe financial hardship

Use this form if you're an eligible member of our schemes, and wish to apply for early release of your benefit on the grounds of severe financial hardship.

PDF, 1373KB

EAFR01 Early access – specified compassionate grounds

Use this application if you are an eligible member and the ATO has approved an early release of benefits on compassionate grounds.

PDF, 1232KB

Financial Hardship Support Pack

Additional support for those in financial hardship

PDF, 335KB

Applying for early release under ‘compassionate grounds’

You may be able to apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to access your super on compassionate grounds. Compassionate grounds include:

  • Medical treatment for you or a dependant;
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle for the special needs of you or a dependant with a severe disability;
  • Mortgage payments to prevent loss of your home;
  • Expenses associated with the death of a dependant.

How can I apply?

To apply for early release of super on compassionate grounds, you must first apply to the ATO. If the ATO approves your application, you will then need to complete the Early Access (specified compassionate grounds) form and send this to us with a copy of your approval letter.

Information on how to apply is available on the ATO website.

What parts of my benefit can be released?

Contributing and preserved (deferred or postponed) members can apply for an early release.

You can only access your basic contributions (and associated earnings), supplementary contributions (and associated earnings), funded productivity component and transfer amounts. Any unfunded productivity cannot be accessed.

Pensioners and associate members (that is, customers through a family law arrangement) are not eligible to claim an early release of their benefit.

Applying for early release under ‘compassionate grounds’

You may be able to apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to access your super on compassionate grounds. Compassionate grounds include:

  • Medical treatment for you or a dependant;
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle for the special needs of you or a dependant with a severe disability;
  • Mortgage payments to prevent loss of your home;
  • Expenses associated with the death of a dependant.

How can I apply?

To apply for early release of super on compassionate grounds, you must first apply to the ATO. If the ATO approves your application, you will then need to complete the Early Access (specified compassionate grounds) form and send this to us with a copy of your approval letter.

Information on how to apply is available on the ATO website.

What parts of my benefit can be released?

Contributing, preserved, and associate members can apply for an early release.

As a contributing member, you can only access your funded components – that is, your member and productivity components, as well as any Post-95 Transfer Amounts (including Government contributions such as co-contributions).

As a preserved member, you can also access your employer component and any unfunded productivity.

As an associate preserved member any or all of your benefit may be released if you are eligible to claim an early release.

If you are receiving a PSS pension, you are not eligible to claim an early release because you will not have any preserved equity to claim.

Applying for early release under ‘compassionate grounds’

You may be able to apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to access your super on compassionate grounds. Compassionate grounds include:

  • Medical treatment for you or a dependant;
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle for the special needs of you or a dependant with a severe disability;
  • Mortgage payments to prevent loss of your home;
  • Expenses associated with the death of a dependant.

How can I apply?

To apply for early release of super on compassionate grounds, you must first apply to the ATO. If the ATO approves your application, you will then need to complete the Early Access (specified compassionate grounds) form and send this to us with a copy of your approval letter.

Information on how to apply is available on the ATO website.

What parts of my benefit can be released?

Contributing, preserved, and associate members may be eligible to claim an early release. However, your age and membership status will determine what components of your benefit can be accessed:

 

Under 55

Over 55, Under Preservation Age

Reached Preservation Age

Contributing Member

Ancillary benefit only

Ancillary benefit only

You are able to rollover your ancillary benefit at any time, this is not considered an ‘early release’ as it cannot be paid as cash. See our Application to claim Ancillary Benefit only (MAC05) form for more information.

Preserved Member

Ancillary benefit

Member benefit

Employer benefit  

Ancillary benefit only

You are able to claim your benefit on age grounds, this is not considered an ‘early release’. See our Claim for Preserved Benefits after age 55 (M65) form for more information.

Associate member

Associate A benefit

Associate B benefit

Associate A benefit

Associate B benefit

You are able to claim your benefit on age grounds, this is not considered an ‘early release’. See our Application by Associate for Preserved Benefit after reaching Preservation Age (A65) form for more information.


Will I pay tax?

Depending on your age and the components of the benefit, tax may be withheld from any payment we make to you.

We’ll calculate the tax payable based on the rates below and remit the amount to the ATO on your behalf. Your payment letter will include a PAYG Payment Summary for when you complete your next tax return.

   Component
  Tax-Free Taxable Taxed Taxable Untaxed
Under Preservation Age Nil 22% 32%
Preservation Age - 59 Nil Nil* 17%*
60+ Nil Nil 17%
 *up to the low rate cap of $205,000. Higher rates apply over this threshold (note: threshold applies to the taxed and untaxed components collectively, not per component)

 

Lump sum payments are subject to proportioning rules, which means you can’t specify which tax components are released. Depending on what parts of your benefit are released, your payment could include a combination of any or all of the above tax components.

Severe financial hardship

Eligibility for early release on financial hardship

You can apply to access your super on grounds of severe financial hardship if you:

  • Have received Commonwealth income support payments for at least 26 continuous weeks and you are able to demonstrate financial hardship (Criterion 1), or
  • Have received commonwealth income support payments for 39 cumulative weeks since reaching your preservation age and you are not gainfully employed at the time you lodge your application (Criterion 2)

If you apply under Criterion 1, a maximum of $10,000 gross (less tax) may be released in any 12 month period. Only one payment may be made in any 12 month period. If you apply under Criterion 2, there is no maximum withdrawal amount or limit to the applications you make.

Which types of payments qualify?

Income support payments must be made by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Eligible payment types include:

Centrelink:

  • Age Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance

DVA

  • Age service pension 
  • Invalidity service pension 
  • Partner service pension 
  • Income support supplement for war widows or widowers
Incapacity payments from DVA are not considered eligible.

 

See the Centrelink and Department of Veterans’ Affairs websites for more information about Commonwealth income support payments.

Demonstrating financial hardship for Criterion 1

Financial hardship means you are unable to meet your reasonable and immediate family living expenses. You need to provide evidence of bills or expenses. 

One aspect of financial hardship is whether you own assets that could reasonably and realistically be sold to meet your expenses. This will be determined by guidelines issued by Services Australia. We may not release money on hardship grounds if you have more than $50,000 in assets (excluding your home). For this purpose, any assets should be valued at their resale value, not their replacement value. For example, if you sell your car the value is the likely sale price (market value), not the cost to buy a new or similar car.

How to apply for early release on financial hardship

To make a claim, you need to complete and submit an ADF Super Early release - Financial Hardship form, together with information to support your claim including:

  • Written evidence from either Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs confirming you are receiving an eligible Commonwealth income support payment
  • Evidence of financial hardship
  • Proof of identification.

Check the form for details of the supporting documentation required. Your claim will be assessed against relevant guidelines. If approved, ADF Super will then determine how much of your super will be released.

Compassionate grounds

If you don't qualify on grounds of severe financial hardship, you may be able to apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to access your super on compassionate grounds.

Compassionate grounds include:

  • Medical treatment for you or a dependant;
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle for the special needs of you or a dependant with a severe disability;
  • Mortgage payments to prevent loss of your home;
  • Expenses associated with the death of a dependant.

How can I apply?

To apply for early release of super on compassionate grounds, you must first apply to the ATO. If the ATO approves your application, you will then need to complete the Early Access (specified compassionate grounds) form and send this to us with a copy of your approval letter.

Information on how to apply is available on the ATO website.

Severe financial hardship

Severe financial hardship

You can apply to access your super on grounds of severe financial hardship if you:
  • Have received Commonwealth income support payments for at least 26 continuous weeks and you are able to demonstrate financial hardship (Criterion 1), or
  • Have received Commonwealth income support payments for 39 cumulative weeks since reaching your preservation age and you are not gainfully employed at the time you lodge your application (Criterion 2).

If you apply under Criterion 1, a maximum of $10,000 gross (less tax) may be released in any 12 month period. Only one payment may be made in any 12 month period. If you apply under Criterion 2, there is no maximum withdrawal amount or limit to the applications you make.

Which types of income support payments qualify?

Income support payments must be made by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Eligible payment types include:

Centrelink:

  • Age Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance

DVA

  • Age service pension 
  • Invalidity service pension 
  • Partner service pension 
  • Income support supplement for war widows or widowers
Incapacity payments from DVA are not considered eligible.

Demonstrating financial hardship for Criterion 1

Financial hardship means you are unable to meet your reasonable and immediate family living expenses. You need to provide evidence of bills or expenses.

One aspect of financial hardship is whether you own assets that could reasonably and realistically be sold to meet your expenses. This will be determined by guidelines issued by Services Australia. We may not release money on hardship grounds if you have more than $50,000 in assets (excluding your home). For this purpose, any assets should be valued at their resale value, not their replacement value. For example, if you sell your car the value is the likely sale price (market value), not the cost to buy a new or similar car.

Specified grounds

If you don't qualify on grounds of severe financial hardship, you may be able to apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for access to your super on specified grounds.

Specified grounds which allow you to access superannuation include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Renovations to your necessitated by severe disability
  • Mortgage payments to prevent loss of your home.

Information on how to apply is available on the ATO website.

If ATO approves your application, you then need to submit your approval along with an Early access to superannuation benefit form.

How to apply for early release on financial hardship or specified grounds

To apply for early release on financial hardship or specified grounds, you will need to complete an Early access to superannuation benefit form.