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Early access to super

Superannuation is designed to help you save for your retirement, so there are rules around when you can access it. Once you've turned 65 or reached your preservation age (55 – 60 years) and retired, it’s generally straight forward to withdraw your super.

Withdrawing your super early may be possible, but only under special circumstances outlined below.

Scams & illegal schemes

Please note some promoters claim to offer early access to your super by transferring your super into a self-managed super fund. These schemes are illegal and heavy penalties can apply. To learn more visit the ATO website: Illegal early release of super.

Financial hardship

If you are experiencing financial hardship you have two options for accessing your super early.

Option 1: COVID-19 and early access to super

  • Am I eligible?
    If you have been financially affected by COVID-19.
  • How much?
    Up to $10,000 in 2019-20, and up to a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
  • Do I pay tax?
    No, it’s tax-free. If approved by ATO we will pay you the amount approved by the ATO up to $10,0001 into your bank account.
  • How do I apply?
    You apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website. You cannot apply through Sunsuper.

Option 2: Severe financial hardship

  • Am I eligible?
    You need to be receiving eligible income support payments from Centrelink for at least 26 weeks in a row (approximately 6 months).
  • How much?
    Up to a maximum of $10,000 before tax in any 12-month period.
  • Do I pay tax?
    Yes, tax is deducted if applicable, up to 22%. So, you could receive less than the amount you apply for.
  • How do I apply?
    You apply through Sunsuper.

Important to consider

  • The COVID-19 payment is tax-free. The Severe financial hardship payment is taxed up to 22%.
  • The COVID-19 payment will not reduce your Centrelink payments or impact the amount of child support you receive or pay. The Severe financial hardship payment may reduce your Centrelink payments or impact the amount of child support you receive or pay.
  • You may be eligible to apply for both options.

Compassionate grounds

You can apply to the Government to access your super early if:

  • You or your family have significant medical costs (including medical transport, or costs for house or car modifications due to disability)
  • Your house is at risk of being sold by your mortgage lender
  • You need to pay for palliative care
  • You need to cover the funeral expenses of a dependent

To apply for early access to your super: 

  1. Complete a claim form via the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website
  2. Return your application form to the ATO
  3. If your application is approved, you then need to forward the letter of approval (or a certified copy) along with our Early release of super on compassionate grounds form

Permanent incapacity

If you suffer a medical condition that will prevent you from ever working again, you can apply to access your super early.

To apply for early access to your super:

  1. Complete the Permanent incapacity form
  2. Provide the required documentation, including ID and medical verification. You’ll need two different legally qualified medical practitioners to assess you and declare that you’ll not likely be employed in a capacity for which you’re reasonably qualified due to a physical or mental condition. One of these practitioners must be a specialist in the field of medicine related to the illness or injury causing your incapacity.

Temporary residents leaving Australia

If you’ve entered Australia on an eligible temporary resident visa, you may be able to withdraw your super as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) once you’ve left Australia.


First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme

First home buyers can add extra money (additional contributions) into your super, then withdraw the money you contributed and put this towards your house deposit.


We're here to help

If you need advice on accessing your super early, you can call us on 13 11 84.