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Early Release

Super benefits are generally not accessible until you reach preservation age. However in some circumstances, such as severe financial hardship, you may be able to withdraw some of your super early.

Super is designed to provide income in your retirement.

That’s why it is generally not accessible until you reach your preservation age.
However, it is recognised that in some circumstances you may need to access your super early.

There are limited situations when you can withdraw some or all of your super prior to your preservation age:

  • If you are eligible for permanent incapacity.
  • If you are terminally ill.
  • If you are suffering severe financial hardship or eligible on specified compassionate grounds.
  • If you change jobs and your super account balance is under $200.
  • If you are a temporary resident permanently leaving Australia.

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:

  • Income support supplements
  • Service pensions
  • Social security benefits
  • Social security pensions

Payments that are not eligible include Family Allowance, Austudy, and Youth Allowance payments in relation to full-time study


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 the Department of Human Services. 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.


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. To apply under specified grounds, you will need to complete an ADF Super Early release - Compassionate Grounds form.

Specified grounds which allow you to access superannuation include:

  • Pay for medical or dental treatment for you or a dependant, or for transport to the treatment
  • Prevent your home from being sold by the lender that holds the mortgage
  • Modify your home or vehicle to accommodate your own needs, or the needs of a dependant, for a severe disability
  • Pay for palliative care for yourself or a dependant with a terminal medical condition
  • Pay for expenses associated with a dependant’s death, funeral or burial.

Information on how to apply is available on the ATO website

If the ATO approves your application, you then need to submit your approval to ADF Super along with an ADF Super early access to superannuation benefit on compassionate grounds form.


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