Should you access your super early

Access super early

Updated 6 January 2021

There’s no getting around it – these are strange times. We’re all facing problems that were unthinkable a few short weeks ago. At Media Super, we’re committed to helping our members retire in comfort, and we make sure everything we do is in our members’ best interest. We understand that the idea of getting up to $20,000 into your bank account immediately might be too good to refuse. We want you to make an informed decision, one based on facts and designed with your best interest in mind.

What is the temporary early access to superannuation scheme?

In late March the federal government announced that Australians adversely affected by coronavirus could access up to $20,000 of their super; $10,000 in the financial year to 30 June 2020 and a further $10,000 in the period until 31 December 2020.

Please note, the ATO is no longer accepting applications for early release of super due to COVID-19. Payments for applications received by 31 December 2020 will be made throughout January.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to access your super on other grounds. Please see the Accessing your super page for details.

What you could stand to lose

Depending on how old you are, withdrawing your super now means you could have up to $47,699* less in your account when it’s time to retire. This could mean you have to work for years longer to make up the difference to ensure you retire in comfort.

The tables below show you what the impact on your super savings could be if you decide to access $10,00 or $20,000. Withdrawing your super now could have a significant effect, particularly if you’re toward the start of your working life.

Let’s show you what this means in dollar terms.

AgeDifference at retirement if you
withdraw $10,000*
Difference at retirement if you
withdraw $20,000*

*Scenarios modelled by MoneySmart (

Perhaps you’re considering taking a portion of the super available during this time of hardship. Even taking just $10,000 could leave you thousands of dollars worse off.

You might hear the saying that withdrawing super now is like ‘selling a house at the bottom of the market’. What this means is that the money you lose due to the falling financial market, you would probably claw back over time as the financial markets recover.

What other financial assistance is available?

When the federal government announced the early access to super package, few other wage stimulus measures were in play. However, since late March 2020, around $320 billion in financial initiatives has been made available to support Australian individuals, households and businesses impacted by COVID-19. Members should consider accessing some of the financial support on offer by the government before tapping into their own super.

From this pool of $320 billion in financial assistance, we believe these initiatives could benefit Media Super members, employers and partners:

  • JobKeeper payments
  • JobSeeker payments
  • Financial assistance of $750 for people on low incomes
  • Wage subsidies for apprentices
  • Delivering support for business investment
  • Boosting cash flow for employers
  • Stimulus payments to households to support growth
  • Assistance for severely affected regions
  • Increased instant asset write-off to $150,000 for businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million
  • Cash flow support up to $25,000 for businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff.

There are additional state-based packages available.

We urge you to contact your relevant financial institution to discuss how you might be able to press pause on your mortgage, debt or loan repayments.

By taking advantage of these options, you will be able to leave your money in superannuation, earning compound interest and safeguarding it for your retirement.

We want you to be aware of the negative result that removing some of the balance in your super account could have on your retirement income.

But more than anything, we want our members to be safe and feel financially secure.

How do I apply?

If you do decide that accessing your super early is the best option for you, you’ll find details on how to apply and the criteria on the ATO website.

You can apply for this scheme through your MyGov account. Please be wary of any third party approaching you to help in taking your super out, particularly if they request a fee. This is likely to be a scam.

We're here to help

We understand these are uncertain and difficult times and, as always, will do our best to support members where we can.

If you have questions about accessing your super, please contact the Helpline on 1800 640 886.

*Scenarios modelled by MoneySmart ( based on the following assumptions:

The estimates provided use the assumptions and default values from the Superannuation Calculator based on an income of $50,000.

  • The estimates provided are shown in today's dollars, which means they are adjusted for inflation by 4.0% p.a. (2.5% p.a. due to the rising cost of living [CPI inflation] and a further 1.5% p.a. for the cost of rising community living standards).
  • Investment returns are defaulted to an assumed rate of investment return before tax and fees of 7.5% p.a.
  • Investment fees are assumed to be 0.85% p.a.
  • Assumed tax on earnings is 7.0%.