Depending on your age and circumstances, there are a number of limited circumstances in which you can gain early access to your superannuation savings, namely:

  1. on ‘compassionate grounds’;
  2. you are suffering severe financial hardship;
  3. you have been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition;
  4. you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated; or
  5. the balance of your super account is less than $200.00.

Severe Financial Hardship

The relevant laws provide that you may withdraw up to $10,000.00 from your super in any 12 month period, in situations where:

  1. you are unable to meet your reasonable and immediate family living expenses; and
  2. you have been continuously receiving eligible government income support payments for a period of at least 26 weeks.

Compassionate Grounds

You may be able to withdraw funds from your super savings on compassionate grounds where these funds will be used to pay for:

  • overdue mortgage repayments, to prevent you from losing your home;
  • medical treatment and/or transport of you or a dependant;
  • modifications to your home and/or vehicle required to accommodate the special needs of you or your dependant suffered as a result of a severe disability; or
  • funeral or burial or other expenses related to the death of a dependent.

The amount of super savings you can withdraw on compassionate grounds is limited to what is reasonably needed in the circumstances.

Illegal Superannuation Schemes

Although the above grounds are legitimate methods of gaining early access to your superannuation savings, it is important to be aware of the existence of illegal super schemes.

These schemes usually encourage you to roll your super over from your existing fund into a self-managed super fund (SMSF) before you are legally entitled to do so, and charge high fees and commissions for the facilitation of such a transfer.

Participation in such schemes exposes you to the risk of a number of adverse financial consequences, including:

  1. heavy fines and penalties;
  2. the loss of some, or all, of your superannuation to the high fees and commissions mentioned above; and
  3. identity theft.

Often the promotors of these schemes will claim that you can access your super for anything you want, such as paying off debts, going on holidays or to purchase cars or property.  Such claims are a clear ‘red-flag’, indicating an illegal super scheme and should be avoided at all costs.

What does this mean for you?

If you believe that your personal circumstances fall into any of the above categories and you require early access to your superannuation savings, please feel free to contact our office to discuss the options available to you.

And remember to be cautious of parties offering to help you access your super for reasons outside of these categories – as the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Rebecca Rutland
Solicitor
Business & Property