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:

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.

Please note, the ATO is no longer accepting applications for early release of super due to COVID-19.

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.