Access Super Early – The Pros and Cons

In most circumstances, you can’t access super early. However, some conditions and more recent events permit you to withdraw portions of your superannuation. There are several reasons you may need to do so. And, while we hope you never have to, it is a good idea to understand your options. Just in case you find yourself in such a situation.

If you encounter times of hardship, there are several alternatives available. Whether it be no credit check loans, government payments, mortgage loan freezes, or family support. When you are having a tough time with it, there will always be help available. Having said this, let’s discuss when to access super early and why you may need to do so.

Please note that specific ideas and products presented in this article may not be on offer by Monzi or the lenders we work with. This article presents only general information. Consider seeking professional financial, taxation, legal or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented on this website relate to your unique circumstances.

What is superannuation?

Superannuation or ‘super’ is the compulsory saving of a percentage of your income over your working life. Super allows Aussie’s to have an income stream available to them when they retire.

This money typically deposits into a super fund automatically. It is a percentage of your paycheck that your employer arranges for you. Meaning that it is out of sight out of mind throughout the majority of your working career. Although, you may also have the option to add extra deposits to your superannuation savings. Super gives you peace of mind for your retirement. But, sometimes, life goes awry. If this is the case for you, you may be able to access super early, before retiring age.

When can you usually access your super?

Typically, you can access your super either at the age of 60+ when you retire. The more you save during this time, the more money you will have to access at the end of your working career. However, there are several other, slightly depressing, reasons that may allow you to access super early.

Outside of this, it is worth noting that some super promoters offer early super access. They may try offering you the opportunity to access super before the preservation age for uses such as holidays or buying a house. This is an illegal activity, and if you engage with them, you are likely to encounter heavy penalties.

Why would you access super early?

Should you encounter life-changing circumstances that may require extra funds, you may be able to access super early. Six common conditions may warrant early super access. These are as follows.

Compassionate grounds:

  • You or your dependent needs palliative care.
  • There are expenses related to the death of your dependant.
  • You or your dependant needs medical treatment or transport.
  • The money will help you accommodate your or your dependant’s disability.
  • You need to make a payment, so you don’t lose your home.

Severe financial hardship:

  • You cannot meet immediate and reasonable family living expenses.
  • You’ve received regular eligible government support payments for 26 weeks.

Terminal medical conditions:

  • For you to receive approval, you will need certification of your condition from two registered medical practitioners. One of which must be a specialist in your condition.

Temporary incapacity:

  • This usually links to various insurance policies. If this is not part of your policy, you may have to look for aid elsewhere.

Permanent incapacity:

  • If you can prove you are permanently incapacitated, you may be able to receive your super in regular payments or as one lump sum.

Less than $200:

  • If you have less than $200 in your super fund and have your employment terminated, you may be able to withdraw this.
  • You find a ‘lost super’ account with less than $200.

Who can access super early?

If you belong to any of the previous demographic groups, you may be able to access super early. However, the majority of these circumstances will require proof and documentation before this can happen. This is as your super should go untouched until your retirement, and if you withdraw it, you will have less available to you when you cannot work anymore.

Outside of this, if you are financially able to retire early, you can apply for your super. If not, you should receive access to your super at approximately the age of 65. This is called the preservation age. However, in recent times due to the life-changing effects that COVID had on many Aussie’s, exemptions have been made to allow the impacted citizens to access super early.

COVID-19 and superannuation

Accessing your super early on the grounds of COVID-19 strife is not something that is still available to the public. However, during the height of the pandemic, the Australian government was permitting certain people to use their super when money got tight. This required several pieces of identification and eligibility proof. However, it was helpful in keeping some Aussie’s afloat.

Whilst this is not something you can access now, it may be helpful to know that if a similar event happens in the future, you can access super early.

At what age can you access super early

If you haven’t yet reached the preservation age, at what age can you access super early? Your actual preservation age may depend on the year you were born in. Typically, however, if you are under the preservation age and want to access your superannuation early, you can be any age. You will need to show that you align with one of the conditions above, however. It’s less about age and more about your position and hand in life.

If you don’t qualify to access your super early, you can always look into the potential of cash loans or bad credit loans from a private lender. This may help you get on top of your debts or tick off tasks that need completing. Personal loans can be beneficial when you need someone to take a chance on you during challenging times, no matter your credit score.

Early access for hardship

Financial hardship is one of the main motivations for looking to access super early. Severe financial hardship can leave you feeling like you have nowhere to turn. To be eligible for withdrawals due to extreme financial hardship, you must meet several eligibility requirements. These include:

  • You have been a member of your super fund for a set amount of time.
  • You cannot meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses. These expenses could include utility bills, rent, or groceries.
  • You’ve been receiving regular eligible government support payments for 26 weeks. These payments could include a pension or JobSeeker etc.

Note that there are further eligibility criteria for these claims, including various age limits and varying claim types. Check with your superannuation provider to see their terms, should you need to access super early.

Which super funds allow early access?

Monzi cannot speak for the various superannuation providers and what their funds offer. If you are looking to switch super funds, however, you can compare them on their features. Several online tools and sites can show you side by side comparisons on super fund features. However, if you aren’t sure what to look for in a super fund, the government’s MoneySmart site has an excellent page on choosing a super fund. This may be a great spot to begin your research.

If you think it may be better to take small loans than to access super early, however, Monzi might help you there. Our lender-finder makes it easy for you to find a lender to help with your private loans. Our process is 100% online and paperwork free, meaning you can apply for a loan from the comfort of your home. And, we may be able to match you with a lender in as little as 60 minutes if you apply within business hours.

How to access super early?

So, you’ve had the misfortune of needing to access super early and are unsure how to go about it. Depending on your superannuation provider, you may have a bunch of eligibility criteria to meet. However, if you do qualify, you may be able to apply for early withdrawal online. This process will vary by provider and may look different if you apply before you reach the preservation age.

Once you have determined your eligibility, you can follow the online process to claim, on your provider’s website. You will likely need to provide two forms of identification when doing so. Ensure you weigh the pros and cons of this decision and that it is best for you before making a claim.

Can you access a portion of your super early?

When you apply for early withdrawal of your super on the grounds of financial hardship, you may not be able to take everything from the fund. If you are accessing it on compassionate grounds, you may only be able to take as much as you need to pay the pressing costs. Generally, however, when it comes to your mortgage repayments, the maximum that you may be able to access within 12 months is:

  • 12 months of interest on the loan’s balance
  • Three months worth of repayments

Across the board you may not be able to borrow more than $10,000 of your savings in one go. Visit the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATOs) site for further information. Or contact your super provider if you would like to know how much you can borrow.

If you find that this is not enough to cover your expenses, Monzi may be able to help. Providing you have explored the other options available to you first, a personal loan could help you in challenging times. If you need $300 to $10,000 to cover virtually any expense, a Monzi lender may be able to help you.

What happens when you access super early?

If you are successfully approved to access super early, the government will send this money to your debit account. But what does this mean for your future self? If you don’t have a terminal medical condition, removing money from your super fund may mean that you could struggle when the time comes to retire. Taking a more significant amount out of your super fund will mean you will earn far less interest and long-term investment gains.

Depending on how far into your working life you are, the money in your super fund could grow exponentially by the time you retire. Meaning, if you have to access super early, this could be a devastating blow to your future financial wellbeing. Less money when it comes to retiring may mean you could end up working longer. Thereby sacrificing your savings could also mean sacrificing your leisure time.

Regardless of your age when you access your super early, the general outcome is that you will have to spend more time working to make up for doing so. Hence, it is essential to explore all your other options.

Access Super Early

Is it wise to access super early?

Most people, particularly financial advisors, would say that it is not intelligent to access super early. And, in truth, it might not be. However, if you are pleading severe financial hardship before the preservation age, you might have no other option. Here are some initial alternate options to look into before seriously considering accessing your super.

  1. Speak to a free financial advisor from the National Debt Helpline. They may offer you some clarity when making the correct decision is overwhelming you.
  2. Explore the available financial assistance options through Centrelink. There may be support payments designed to help in your situation.

These are the first two starting points. Government assistance may be your best bet when you need income support payments. Particularly considering you may not be in the appropriate financial position to look into taking loans or other methods of additional cash flow.

Alternatives to early super access

If you do have the income/cash flow to look beyond government payments and free counselling, other options are available when you need extra cash. You might be in a situation where you don’t need to declare severe financial hardship but can see danger coming. If this is the case, you may want to perform some debt consolidation or clear out some bills with these alternatives.

  1. Try applying for an interest-free government loan. Only a certain amount of these loans are available. However, they could be an excellent alternative to a traditional loan.
  2. Investigate a Centrelink cash advance. If you are already receiving certain Centrelink payments, you may be able to request a portion of these payments in advance.
  3. Try a personal loan. Through private lenders like those in the Monzi network, you may be able to access flexible loans. This could mean you can take bad credit loans or even loans for people on Centrelink.

Whether or not these may work for you is almost entirely dependent on your circumstances. If you know that you don’t have the borrowing capacity to take a loan, do your best to avoid doing so. If you already have existing loans, speak with your lender about potential payment plans to ease the burden of your financial hardship.

Can you withdraw super to pay a debt?

You may access super early to repay a debt; however, this is conditional. To do so, you may have to prove you have reached your preservation age. If this is you, and you still have a job, you may be able to start transitioning to a retirement pension. This may allow you to access up to 10% of your account balance per financial year. If you are over 60, this process may be tax-free. If you are under 60, you may be charged tax.

Should you withdraw a portion of your super on compassionate grounds, you may be limited the certain debts that you can repay. Compassionate grounds are thoroughly regulated as you could be hurting yourself further down the track when you access super early.

Can you rebuild your super after accessing it?

There are ways to rebuild the condition of your super after accessing it early. Whilst it may take you a long time to rebuild what you lost, it isn’t impossible, providing you are still early in your working career. There are four steps you can take that may help you to rebuild.

One: Consolidate

Combining them into one account with a competitive interest rate may help if you have multiple pre-existing super accounts. This thereby eliminates the possibility of you having multiple sets of fees and premiums and maximises compound interest.

Two: Contribute

You can make extra contributions to your super fund. These can be either before-tax or after-tax. You may be able to automatically contribute if you set your fund up adequately.

Three: Consider your options

You may have various investment options available to you moving forward. Consider speaking with your provider to see what investment options could benefit you. Alternatively, if you downsize your home or decide you don’t need a second car, you may be able to contribute this cash.

Four: Check your insurance

For many people, their insurance aligns with their superannuation. If you access your super early, consider whether your insurance company is giving you the best deals for your super.

How do you prove financial hardship?

If you are looking to access super early through your provider, they may ask you to prove your financial hardship. This doesn’t have to be a complex process. Instead, you may be able to contact Services Australia and request a letter. This letter will help you to prove that you are facing severe financial hardship and need income support.

This letter will inform your super provider that you meet the income support requirements and help push your process forward. You can view the list of criteria for income support on the Services Australia website. The letter that they provide you with will only have validity for 21 days.

Can you withdraw super to buy a car?

When you access your super, you may be able to use it to buy a car. However, as with using it to pay a debt, you will have to have reached the preservation age to do so. If you have not yet reached the preservation age, you may only be able to use super to buy a car in certain circumstances.

Namely, one of the compassionate grounds that entitles you to access super early is when you or your dependant requires medical treatment or transport. Whether or not this will permit you to purchase a car for transportation will come down to the fine print. If you are not sure what the compassionate grounds criteria means, speak with your provider for clarity.

In other instances, you may be able to take a super lump sum when you want to use your super to further establish your future. Whether it’s clearing debt, paying for home improvements, or investing for your retirement. Consider exploring what your provider allows you to use lump sums for before choosing where to deposit your super.

Do you get taxed when you access super early?

If you access super early on compassionate grounds for severe financial hardship, you may still be taxed on what you withdraw. This is as, when you do so, you will be likely withdrawing these savings as a lump sum. Thereby, they are taxed as a super lump sum. There are no special tax rates for these circumstances, regardless of your financial hardship.

However, if you are older than your preservation age, 60-65, you are unlikely to be taxed. You may expect to be taxed around 20% on the lump sum you withdraw if you are under the preservation age.

Will your super impact a pension?

Your age pension calculates on the income and assets tests. These tests measure how much money you have and the value of your assets alongside this. If you have enough assets and income, you may not be eligible for the age pension. This is a threshold, and if you exceed this slightly, you may have a limited pension. If you exceed it by a lot, you will be ineligible.

Your super counts to both your assets and income tests and may therefore influence how much of the age pension you can receive. However, if you do need to access your super early, you may be entitled to a larger age pension to make up for this loss in some capacity later in life. If you are unsure what you may retire with, consider using a retirement income calculator to help.

Loans as an alternative

You can use personal loans to cover almost any cost you think of, providing it isn’t illegal. This means that if you are struggling and need to try and clear your plate, the lenders in the Monzi network may be able to help. Whether you need same day loans, fast loans, or large personal loans, Monzi may be able to find you a lender. And, if your credit report doesn’t look so great, you don’t have to be ashamed. The lenders Monzi works with can understand and know that sometimes life just doesn’t go your way.

Not only this but all the lenders Monzi works with have payment plans and options available, should things go south. You might not think the banks will give you the second chance you need. If this is the case, why not see how Monzi Personal Loans can help?

Monzi and super

Monzi doesn’t work with super funds and cannot help you access your super early. However, if you are looking for fast loans for extra cash when times are tough, we may be able to help. To start with the Monzi lender-finder, simply scroll to the top of the page to begin your application with the loan slider.

Once you have told us everything we need to know, we’ll do the rest. Hopefully, we can match you to a lender in as little as 60 minutes. If we are successful, your lender will be in contact with you. Don’t apply if you have unanswered questions, however. The Monzi Team is happy to help you with any queries you may have. Feel free to email us at hello@monzi.com.au for more information.

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