When can you access your super?

Having enough tucked away in your super fund is probably a pressing issue on your mind. But another thing to consider is when you can actually access your superannuation.

The earlier you start saving, the more you'll have to enjoy your golden years. But you've got to be clued up with the superannuation rules — particularly those which outline when you can start using these valuable funds.

What's the magic number?

There are a few ways you can access your super.

In most instances, you'll need to wait until you reach the preservation age. So what exactly is this magic number?

The answer depends on when you were born — your preservation age could be anywhere between 55 and 60 years of age. Here's a guide to birth dates and the applicable preservation age, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO):

  • Anytime from July 1 1964 — 60 years of age
  • Between July 1 1963 and June 30 1964 — 59 years of age
  • Between July 1 1962 and June 30 1963 — 58 years of age
  • Between July 1 1961 and June 30 1962 — 57 years of age
  • Between July 1 1960 and June 30 1961 — 56 years of age
  • Prior to July 1 1960 — 55 years of age

Remember, there's a difference between your preservation age and your pension age.

Preservation versus pension: What's the difference?

The age you can access The Age Pension is not necessary the same as when you'll be able to tap into your superannuation funds. It's essential to remember this when planning for retirement so your cash flow is steady once you stop working. Of course, you may elect to retire at a later date, allowing interest to accrue on your superannuation investments, while you continue to work part-time or full-time.

At the time of writing, the pension age was 65 years — but it's set to gradually increase, according to the Department of Social Services, to age 67 by July 1, 2023. But age is only the first hurdle: You must also meet an assets and income test to receive the Age Pension. You can submit a claim for this up to 13 weeks prior to reaching your Age Pension.

By contrast, you'll reach the superannuation age before this point, with the exact age depending on your birth year. This means you're able to use your super before you start receiving the Age Pension (if you're eligible).

Can I access my super early?

You might be wondering if there are any exceptions to the superannuation access rules.

The ATO notes several exceptions that may allow you to access your super before you retire. However, the circumstances are limited to specified compassionate grounds, severe financial hardship, a terminal medical condition, or permanent or temporary incapacity.

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