Superannuation

Money for when you finish working

The idea of superannuation (super) is to save money during your working life so that you and your family will have money when you stop working and retire. Some people will also get the Age Pension after retirement. Super funds also offer insurance benefits, which can help protect you and your family if you die or are too sick to work.  

Your employer must put money into a super fund for you. Make sure you get the super you are entitled to.

What is super?

Here are some things you should know about super:Woman sitting at a computer

  • Money for your retirement. The money stays in the super fund and is invested so it can earn interest and grow. 
  • Your employer must pay money into your super account. While you are working, your employer must put 9.5% of what you earn into a super fund for you.
  • Keep track of your super.  It is important that you read your statements and the materials provided to you by the super fund. If you do nothing your account will go into the default investment or standard option, which may not be the most appropriate for you.
  • You may get insurance with your super. Super funds may also provide you with insurance for a fee. This will help your family with some money if you die or are too sick to work. See insurance through super for more details.

Make sure your super is being paid

Your employer must pay money into your super fund if you are:

  • paid more than $450 per month
  • over 18 and work more than 30 hours a week.

Work out how much your employer should be paying into your super fund.

Employer contributions calculator

Keep your contact details up to date so you don't lose track of your super and your fund doesn't lose track of you. This will also help prevent delays when you contact your super fund, for example, about insurance payments.

Smart tip

Contact your super fund if you have any questions or trouble understanding the information they send you.

If you are on a Community Development Employment Project (CDEP), your boss must pay super on any 'top up' wages that take your total wages (including your CDEP payment) to $450 or more a month. For more information on CDEP, call the Indigenous Coordination Centre on 1800 079 098, or if you are in:

  • Nhulunbuy, call 1800 089 148
  • Kalgoorlie, call 1800 193 357
  • Kununurra, call 1800 193 348.

Talk to your boss if you're not sure you are being paid super. You can also visit the unpaid super page at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website or call their National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Centre on 13 10 30.

Nathan Boyle on super outreach in the APY Lands

Susan Tilley from Anangu Lands Paper Tracker interviews ASIC's Nathan Boyle about the 2018 outreach trip to the APY Lands to help people with their superannuation.

Choosing a super fund

Man stacking shelves in a shopEvery time you start a new job you should be given a form that lets your employer know which super fund you want your super paid into. 

What if you don't want to choose a super fund?

If you don't choose a super fund your employer will pay the super into a fund they choose. Super funds offer accounts with basic insurance and low fees called 'MySuper' accounts. If you don't choose a fund your employer must pay your super into a MySuper account. Make sure the fund your employer has chosen is the best fund for you. Your boss can give you general facts about super, but can't give you advice about which super fund is best for you. See types of super funds.

Super fees

Each super fund will charge you fees for keeping your super with them. These fees can add up over time, so try to find a super fund with low fees.

Compare the impact of fees on your super fund.

Superannuation calculator

Move all your super into one fund

If you have worked in a few jobs, your super might be in a few different funds. You'll be charged fees for each fund, so it will be much cheaper and easier to keep track of your super if you only have one fund.

Here are the steps to take when moving your super into one fund:

  1. Check whether you have to pay an exit fee - Before you move your money out of a super fund, check whether you have to pay a fee to leave that fund, called an exit fee.
  2. Make sure you don't lose your insurance benefits - Before you move your money, make sure you won't lose insurance benefits if you switch to a new fund.
  3. Decide which fund you want to use - Choose a fund that has low fees and good features.
  4. Contact all of your super funds - Phone each of your other funds and tell them you want to move your super into your chosen fund. Each fund will send you a form and ask for some identification. Fill out the forms and get your super moved into one fund.

See choosing a super fund for more information on how to choose the best super fund for your needs.

Putting extra money into your super

You can put some of your own money into your super fund so you have more when you retire.

Government co-contribution

If you put more money in you might get extra money from the government for your super. This is called a 'government co-contribution'.

See super contributions to find out if you can get a government co-contribution.

Low income super tax offset

If you earn $37,000 or less you may also get a 'low income super tax offset' of up to $500 from the government every year. You will get this whether or not you add extra money to your super. The ATO will automatically make these payments if you meet the criteria.

To find out more, see super contributions.

Getting your super

You get your super when you reach the minimum age set by law.

You can choose to receive your super as a lump sum, a regular income stream (e.g. $400 a month) or a combination of both. For more information see income from super.

Work out when you can get your super.

Super and pension age calculator

Getting your super early

Senior man at the ATM with two girls and a dogYou are usually not allowed to touch your super until you reach a certain age or until you retire. In special cases, super funds may give you some of your super money early for hardship or compassionate reasons. But the law is very strict about when super funds can do this.

If you think you might need to get some of your super money early, talk to your super fund, a financial counsellor or a financial capability worker.

Superannuation scams

Stay away from people who say they can help you get your super early for a fee. This is illegal, and these people are scammers who just want to get your super money. Some people have lost all their super savings and risked paying extra tax because they got caught up in one of these scams.

If someone tries to convince you to get your super out early, call ASIC's Indigenous Help Line on 1300 365 957 or ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630 to report them. See superannuation scams for more information.

What happens to your super when you die

Your super fund will pay your dependants (e.g. your husband or wife, children and other people who depend on you financially):

  • the money in your super account
  • your life insurance if you have this with your super.

Most funds let you name your dependants either as a non-binding or binding nomination. 

Smart tip

Keep your super nominations up to date, especially if you marry, re-marry or have children.

For example, if you make a binding nomination that you would like your super to be paid to your children, then the super fund must follow your instructions and pay your money to your children. A non-binding nomination will guide the super fund to pay your money to your children but does not force them to.

It is important to name your dependants in your will so that when you die, the super fund will be able to pay out your money in the way you want. For more information, see getting your super.

Getting super is your right and helps you have a more comfortable retirement. Always check your pay slip to make sure you are being paid the right amount of super and read your super statements when you get them. 


Related links

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.


Last updated: 14 Feb 2019