Accessing your super

Your super is there to fund your retirement. You spend years making contributions to it and watching it grow, so it's only natural to wonder when you will be able to access all or some of your super.

You can generally access your super when you reach your preservation age and have retired, or when you turn 65.

There are some specific circumstances where you may be able to access your super earlier, provided you meet certain conditions of release.

Understanding your preservation age

Your preservation age is the minimum age at which you can access your preserved super benefits if you intend to retire. It is different to your Age Pension age. Your preservation age depends on when you were born.

Date of birthPreservation Age
Before 1.7.196055
1.7.1960 to 30.6.196156
1.7.1961 to 30.6.196257
1.7.1962 to 30.6.196358
1.7.1963 to 30.6.196459
After 30.6.196460

If you've reached your preservation age and aren't ready to retire yet, you can still access part of your super through a Transition to Retirement (TTR) pension.

Once you turn 65, you can access your super any time, even if you're still working.

How your super is taxed will vary according to your age, contributions and other factors.

Conditions of release

To get access to some or all of your super, you must satisfy one of the conditions of release. Once you've done so, you will generally be able to receive your super as a lump sum, income stream, or a combination of both.

The five main conditions of release are:

  • Reaching your preservation age and retiring
  • Reaching your preservation age and starting a retirement income stream
  • Ceasing employment when you're aged 60 or over, even if you don't intend to retire
  • Turning 65
  • Death

Other conditions of release only apply under very limited circumstances and can allow you to access at least part of your super before you reach preservation age.

If you have retired, or plan to retire soon, find out more about accessing your super in retirement.

Early release of super

There are some instances where you may be able to access your super early.

Typically you can access your super early under these specific circumstances:

  • you meet temporary compassionate grounds due to COVID-19
  • you are experiencing severe financial hardship
  • you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated
  • you are diagnosed with a terminal medical condition
  • you meet compassionate grounds
  • you are a temporary resident
  • you are saving a deposit to buy your first home (First Home Super Saver Scheme)
  • you have less than $200 in your super account.

If you have any questions about early access to your super or need assistance with the application, please call the Helpline on 1800 640 886.

Temporary compassionate grounds due to COVID-19

The Federal Government has announced new temporary compassionate grounds for early release of super. The ATO is no longer accepting applications for early release of super due to COVID-19. Payments for applications submitted by 31 December 2020 will be made throughout January.

Please note, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will be assessing these compassionate grounds applications, not Media Super. Members must apply via myGov.

Timing of payments

Payments for applications submitted by 31 December 2020 will be made throughout January.

The ATO has advised that applications submitted after 21 December 2020 may not be processed by their staff before the week beginning 4 January 2021.

Once you have applied to the ATO (via myGov), you will receive a letter of determination from the ATO to confirm your eligibility. If your application is approved, you do not need to do anything further; your payment will automatically be made to you.

Once Media Super receives advice from the ATO, we will generally process your payment within five business days. Please note, it may take a little longer for the money to appear in your bank account (depending on the transfer process between banks).

We are working hard to process payments for members and the majority of payments are being processed with five business days. If it necessary to undertake additional verification (e.g. if any of your details have changed), it may take longer than five business days.

Please note, due to the national public holidays on Friday 25 December, Monday 28 December and Friday 1 January we may experience delays in receiving advice from the ATO and it may take longer to process payments.

Severe financial hardship

To access your super if you are not retired, you must:

  • be receiving a Centrelink income support payment, and have been receiving one continuously for the last 26 weeks, and
  • satisfy your super fund that you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family expenses.

If you satisfy both components of this test, we are allowed to release to you one lump sum payment of no more than $10,000 and no less than $1,000, in any 12-month period. These limits apply to the gross payment before any tax is deducted. If your account is less than $1,000, your entire balance will be paid to you.

If you have reached your preservation age, your entire benefit can also be released if you meet the following conditions:

  • you have received a Centrelink income support payment for a total period of 39 weeks after reaching your preservation age, and
  • you are not gainfully employed on a full or part time basis on the date of your application to your super fund.

To apply, please complete the Early release of super benefits on the grounds of severe financial hardship form.

Specified compassionate grounds

You may be able to claim part of your superannuation balance on compassionate grounds by making a direct application to the ATO.

Please note the ATO assesses compassionate grounds applications, not Media Super.

How to claim

If you believe you are eligible to access your super early or want more information about your preservation age, tax obligations or options to receive payments, we're here to help. Contact our team on 1800 640 886 and we will help you get all the information and forms you need.