Getting your super

Tomorrow's super, today

If you're approaching retirement you need to think about how you're going to get your super. There are many rules that apply to getting tomorrow's super.

Retiring on your super

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

The minimum age is known as your 'preservation age' because your super is 'preserved' until this point in your life. Your preservation age can range from 55 to 60 depending on when you were born.

Work out your preservation age.

Super and pension age calculator

When you reach preservation age, you can access your super as long as you are permanently retired (or have reached age 65). If you haven't permanently retired, you can still access part of your super via a transition to retirement pension.

Changes to super in 2017

From 1 July 2017 there will be a limit on how much money can be held in an account-based pension. Details of these and other changes to super are available on the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website.

How much will you get?

Smart tip

If you're considering retiring, seek financial advice about how to make the most of your super.

Your final retirement benefit is determined by:

  • Your employer's contributions over your working life
  • Your own additional contributions
  • Your investment returns
  • The tax you pay
  • The amount of fees

You can choose to receive your super as a lump sum, a retirement income stream (e.g. $400 a month) or a combination of both. If you choose to receive your super as a regular income stream, the money that you're not accessing continues to work for you and earn an investment return.

Taking your super as a lump sum can have tax and Centrelink implications and is often not the best way to deal with your super. This could be a real problem if you make a mistake and can't put the money back into super.

Work out how mucht income you are likely to have at retirement.

Retirement planner

Getting super early

There are some very limited circumstances when you can access your super before you reach your preservation age:

  • Incapacity - if you suffer permanent or temporary incapacity
  • Severe financial hardship - if you have received Commonwealth benefits for 26 continuous weeks but are still unable to meet immediate living expenses
  • Compassionate grounds - to pay for medical treatment if you are seriously ill
  • Terminal medical condition - if you have a terminal illness or injury likely to result in death in 24 months or less as certified by two registered medical practitioners, at least one of whom is a specialist.

The Department of Human Services has some useful resources on the early release of superannuation.

Carefully consider whether you really need to access your super early. Seek advice if you're unsure. Accessing your super now may not be a long term financial solution if money is tight. Taking money from your super now, reduces the amount you have for retirement.  

You may also be able to access your super early if you are permanently leaving Australia or if you have less than $200 in your super account. Go to the Australian Taxation Office's individuals' superannuation webpage and select the 'receiving benefits' option.

Super is a lifetime investment that will provide for you when you retire. Grow your super before you stop working so you can make the most of it after you retire.

Related links

Last updated: 30 Jan 2017