Question: Under What Circumstances Can My Superannuation be Released Early?”

Often we are asked whether superannuation benefits can be accessed early. The superannuation account balance can be released if you are 65 or over, even if you have not retired. If you have retired then you can access your superannuation account balance as from the age of 60. For those aged between 55 and 60 years, the superannuation account balance can be accessed once you have reached your preservation age. Your preservation age is determined by your date of birth. For example those of us who are born before 1 July 1960 have a preservation age of 55 years. There are also circumstances whereby you can access your superannuation benefits earlier than what would otherwise be the case by making an application based on permanent incapacity, compassionate grounds or financial hardship.

As to permanent incapacity, an application can be made to the superannuation fund supported by the reports of two medical practitioners to certify that by reason of ill health, it is unlikely that you will ever be gainfully employed in a capacity for which you are reasonably qualified because of your education, training or experience. If the application is approved the entire account balance will be released, subject to tax.

If the application is to proceed on compassionate grounds, it will be made through the Department of Human Services for the specified reasons of requiring funds for medical or dental treatment or transport to receive such treatment for either yourself or one of your dependents, mortgage assistance to prevent a home from being sold by a lender, modification to a home or vehicle to accommodate a severe disability for yourself or one of your dependents, palliative care for terminal illness for yourself or a dependent or for expenses associated with a dependent’s death, funeral or burial. In these instances applications must be supported by the appropriate documentation and if approved, will be for an amount up to $10,000 and same may be subject to tax.

For financial hardship applications you must be in receipt of Centrelink benefits for a continuous period of 26 weeks and be able to establish a financial hardship according to the criteria prescribed by the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994. If the application is approved, there are restrictions on cash distributions of up to $10,000 per financial year.

Brydens Lawyers has a specialised Superannuation and TPD Division available to assist with the provision of legal advice and representation for all superannuation and TPD applications. If you are unable to work by reason of injury or illness, whether or not work-related, you may have a valuable claim to superannuation and/or TPD benefits available to you. For a free no obligation consultation with one of our expert lawyers please contact Brydens Lawyers without delay.