The three new circumstances that could let you access super early


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Would you like to get access to your super early, before you retire? Plenty of Australians would but not many can.

There are strict rules around qualifying for your superannuation release early but the government is proposing to relax the conditions, providing greater scope for Australians to get hold of their super if it is really necessary.

Typically you have to be in dire financial and medical hardship to dip into your superannuation early.

access super early

But the government's new proposals follow a review of early release and are designed to provide greater flexibility although they still follow the guidelines of being a last resort where other sources of financial support have been exhausted.

The proposals include several new compassionate grounds such as:

  • Allowing victims of family and domestic violence to gain early access to their superannuation up to a cap of $10,000 over a 24-month period;
  • Permitting release of superannuation savings if you need dental treatment for the treatment of a life-threatening condition, or acute and chronic pain;
  • The purchase of disability aids and modified vehicles on the basis of certification from a medical practitioner.

The Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert released the issues paper that explained that the definition of severe financial hardship should be relaxed so that individuals would be eligible for early release if they have been receiving qualifying Commonwealth income support payments for 26 cumulative weeks out of 40 weeks (rather than 26 consecutive weeks currently) and meet the living expenses test.

The government is proposing that multiple releases be permitted on severe financial hardship and family and domestic violence grounds (up to the cap of $10,000 in a 24-month period) so that applicants are not incentivised to withdraw the maximum amount at once.

The paper calls for stakeholder views on the number of other proposals.

The government wants to tighten the eligibility criteria for early release on mental health grounds by replacing "alleviate an acute or chronic mental disturbance" with "treat a diagnosed mental illness or behavioural disorder".

The government also wants early access for overseas medical treatment to be available only for a life-threatening injury or illness, or where a person lives overseas.

As well, it recommends two medical practitioners to certify that the treatment for which early release is being obtained is generally accepted by the medical profession as being "clinically relevant" for the patient's diagnosed condition.

It sets out that the early release under the mortgage foreclosure ground to be permitted only once every 24 months.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.

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