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  • Understanding your options

    There are several steps you should take to make sure you understand your options and the financial impacts.

    Find out about:

    Contact your super provider

    You should contact your super provider to ask about:

    • whether they will release super early under compassionate grounds
    • whether there is sufficient balance in your account
    • any fees for releasing super early under compassionate grounds
    • tax on the amount released
    • implication on any insurance attached to your accounts.

    If your provider does not permit early release of super, you may be able to transfer your super to a different provider that allows early release on compassionate grounds.

    If you are a member of an EPSSS, do not apply to the ATO. You need to apply directly to your scheme for early release of super. EPSSS have their own state and territory law in regards to early release of super.

    If you have a self-managed super fund, you still need our approval to access your super early.

    How tax applies

    There are no special tax rates for a super withdrawal on compassionate grounds. It is paid and taxed as a normal single super lump sum. The tax rates depend upon various factors, including your age and the components of the super lump sum. Refer to Super lump sum tax table for further information.

    See also:

    Seek financial advice

    You may want to talk to an independent financial adviser before applying for compassionate release of super. They may be able to tell you about other options to access the money required to meet your specific expense, for example the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

    Releasing your super early will generally count towards your assessable income for income tax purposes and will need to be included in our tax return. This can affect any family tax benefit or child support you receive.

    If you are under the preservation age, you need to pay tax on any lump sum payment received from your early release of super. The rate of tax is dependent on the components of the amount released. Your super provider will provide you with the correct amount.

    See also:

    Next steps:

    Evidence required for application

    To submit your application online, you need digital copies of the required evidence. We accept photos of documents. Supported file formats are gif, jpeg, png and pdf.

    If you submit a paper application you need to ensure you provide copies of your documents. Do not provide original documents as these will not be returned.

    Do not include images of a disturbing nature to support your application as they do not form part of the evidence required to assess your application.

    If the registered medical practitioner/specialist report is written in a language other than English it will need to be translated. The translator must be accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

    Evidence required for:

    Medical treatment

    You must provide two medical reports:

    • one from a registered medical specialist
    • one from either a registered medical practitioner or a registered medical specialist.

    Allied professionals, such as physiotherapists, psychologists and podiatrists are not considered as medical practitioners/specialists.

    The reports should clearly state that you or your dependant requires treatment for:

    • a life threatening illness or injury
    • acute or chronic pain
    • an acute or chronic mental illness.

    The registered medical specialist must be specialised in the area in which they are giving their opinion. Examples include:

    • If you apply for treatment of an acute or chronic mental illness, most applications will require a medical report from a psychiatrist.
    • If you apply for treatment of a life threatening illness or injury one medical report must be from the registered medical specialist who diagnosed the illness or injury.

    The medical practitioner report must be completed, signed and dated less than six months before you submit your application. If you need to submit another application to pay for more medical treatments you will need new medical reports for each new application.

    If you need to travel overseas for treatment your medical specialist needs to advise why you can't receive the treatment in Australia.

    You should ask your medical practitioner to use the form below to ensure they provide all the information we need. If the medical reports are incomplete or do not contain enough information it is likely your application will be delayed or rejected.

    In vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments

    If you are applying for a second or later IVF treatment, you will need to provide a new or updated quote in each subsequent application. However, the same medical report can be used provided it was completed no more than six months before you submit your application.

    We will only approve expenses that can legally be paid for within Australia. Expenses relating to commercial surrogacy, procurement of human gametes or human embryos cannot be funded via this program.

    If you are applying for IVF-related treatment and your invoice includes expenses for a non-dependant third party, those expenses will not be approved.

    Dental treatment

    If you are applying for dental treatment we also require:

    • a copy of your treatment plan which includes details of all stages of the treatment
    • a detailed quote or invoice.

    If you need to submit another application to pay for subsequent stages of the treatment plan, you will need to provide evidence for each new application verifying the previous stages have been completed and the next stage required.

    Next steps:

    Medical transport

    You must provide two medical reports:

    • one from a registered medical specialist
    • one from either a registered medical practitioner or a registered medical specialist

    The reports must advise that you or your dependant requires travel for treatment of a:

    • a life threatening illness or injury
    • acute or chronic pain
    • an acute or chronic mental illness.

    The registered medical specialist should be specialised in the area they are giving their opinion.

    If applying for medical transport only, at least one report must provide details of the locations, frequency and duration of the treatment.

    If you are applying for both medical treatment and medical transport, you can use the same medical practitioner reports as long as at least one report provides details of the locations, frequency and duration of the treatment.

    The medical practitioner reports must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application. If your medical reports are incomplete or do not contain enough information it is likely your application will be rejected.

    Before we approve a release for medical transport, we will need to consider the most cost efficient and reasonable transport options.

    You need to provide the reason you are requesting the type of transport. If you require overseas treatment your medical specialist needs to advise why you can't receive the treatment within Australia.

    Suitable medical transport may include:

    • public transport
    • government or non-government providers offering medical transportation services on a fee for service basis
    • private taxi
    • hire car, ambulance, train, or ferry
    • domestic flights, international flights, or air ambulance
    • purchasing a vehicle where its primary use (at least 60%) will be for medical transport.

    The purchase of a vehicle will only be considered when all other means of transport cannot reasonably be used. Vehicle expenses such as tinted windows or metallic paint will not be considered for release unless they are medically required.

    If you are applying for a vehicle that costs more than $20,000 your application needs to include additional information to support why that specific vehicle is required.

    When assessing the purchase of a vehicle we will consider the:

    • frequency of treatments
    • distance to treatment locations
    • any other information provided.

    Next steps:

    Accommodating a disability

    If you are applying to pay for modifications to your home or vehicle, or purchase of a disability aid, you must provide one medical report completed by a registered medical practitioner or specialist who treated you or your dependant for the disability.

    The registered medical practitioner or specialist needs to certify that:

    • you or your dependant have a severe disability
    • the modifications or purchases are required to accommodate the severe disability.

    The medical practitioner report must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application. If your medical report is incomplete or does not contain enough information it is likely your application will be rejected.

    Everyday expenses or items not specifically related to accommodating the disability are unlikely to be approved.

    If you are modifying your home you need to provide evidence to support that the property is your principle place of residence. Examples include:

    • electricity bills
    • gas bills
    • internet bills.

    If you live in a rental property, we can approve a release if your landlord has provided written consent to the proposed modifications.

    The quote or invoice must state the address of the home being modified or the owner of the vehicle being modified.

    Next steps:

    Palliative care for a terminal illness

    If you are applying to pay for palliative care for a terminal illness, you must provide one medical report completed by a registered medical practitioner or specialist who is treating you or your dependant.

    The registered medical practitioner needs to certify that you or your dependant:

    • has a terminal illness and has 24 months or less to live
    • require palliative care.

    The medical practitioner reports must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application

    If we approve your request for compassionate release of super for you or on behalf of your dependant the amount will be taxable.

    You may choose to apply directly to your super provider for early release of super to pay for your own palliative care. In this case, the amount released will not be taxable.

    Next steps:

    Funeral expenses for your dependant

    If you are applying to pay for the death, funeral or burial expenses of your dependant you will need to provide either:

    • a copy of your dependant’s death certificate
    • a letter from your dependant’s medical practitioner or the funeral provider. It should be on their letterhead, signed and dated less than six months old and should state:    
      • the dependant has passed away
      • the date of death
      • the registered medical practitioner's AHPRA number.
       

    You will also need to provide proof of dependency.

    Next steps:

    Preventing foreclosure or forced sale of home

    Mortgage payments

    If you are applying to pay for mortgage arrears to prevent foreclosure or forced sale of your home (which is your principal place of residence) you need to provide:

    • a letter from your bank or lender for each loan secured against your home
    • a default notice issued from your bank or lender for each loan you secured against your home
    • a utility bill which is less than three months old.

    The bank/lender letter must be addressed to you and state:

    • that payment of an amount is overdue and the mortgagee will foreclose or force the sale of your home if the overdue amount isn’t paid by the due date
    • the current amount owing that must be paid in order to stop action to sell your property
    • the address of the property under threat of sale
    • the amount equal to three months of repayments for the loan
    • the amount equal to 12 months interest on the outstanding balance of the loan
    • the name of the mortgagee and the loan account number.

    If you have more than one mortgage on your home, you need to provide a separate letter for each mortgage under threat by foreclosure or forced sale of home.

    The letter must be:

    • dated no more than 30 days ago
    • on the bank or lender's letterhead.

    If your property is owned by multiple parties, the lender's written statement must specify who is legally responsible for the mortgage. An amount approved for release can't be applied for by multiple parties. The amount requested to cover the expense can only be determined once and be for the total outstanding amount.

    You are not eligible for a release if it is your dependant's home at risk.

    If you own multiple properties you may not be eligible for release under compassionate grounds as you may be able to pay your expense by selling one or more of the property assets.

    Council rates

    You may be eligible to apply if you have arrears on council rates and your council has commenced proceedings to take possession or to sell your home, which is your principal place of residence.

    You need to provide a letter from the council which states:

    • that payment of an amount is overdue and the council has begun action to foreclose or to sell your home if the overdue amount isn’t paid by the due date
    • the current amount owing that must be paid in order to stop action to sell your property
    • the address of the property under threat of sale
    • the amount in arrears itemised for each year.

    You will also need to provide documents that support you owe a minimum of two years or more of council rates.

    Next steps:

    Quotes and invoices

    When providing a quote or invoice you will need to ensure it contains all the required information. For more information about these requirements refer to Tax invoices.

    We may contact service providers to validate invoices or quotes. Your relevant quotes or unpaid invoices must be:

    • on the provider's letterhead
    • dated:
      • no more than six months old for quotes
      • no more than 30 days old for unpaid invoices.
       

    If your invoice or quote is in a foreign currency, the amount you are requesting for release must be converted to Australian dollars.

    See also:

    Next steps:

    How to apply

    Our application process is a free and easy service. Our staff are available to assist with any enquiries you may have with completing your application. You should be aware that some entities may charge a fee to assist with preparing an application on your behalf.

    The ATO does not process applications over the phone – you must apply online.

    If you live outside Australia and are unable to apply online, contact us to request a paper application form.

    If you apply from overseas:

    • Copies of documents you provide to support your application should be certified as true and correct copies of the original document. You must arrange for documents in another language to be translated into English and certified as a true and correct copy by an authorised translation service.
    • Post your completed forms and supporting documents to

      Australian Taxation Office
      Compassionate release of superannuation
      PO Box 3006
      PENRITH  NSW  2740

    Online application process

    Before you apply, check with your super provider whether they allow the early release of super.

    If you have a self-managed super fund, you still need our approval to access your super early.

    Process:

    1. Get your evidence ready and apply using our online form. The form is accessed via your myGov accountExternal Link linked to ATO online services. From the ATO online services homepage, select the heading option 'Super' then 'Manage' then 'Compassionate Release of Super'. Find out how to get started with ATO online services.
    2. We will assess your eligibility for a compassionate release of super. This can take up to 14 days (28 days for paper applications). We can't provide you with a progress update during the assessment phase. Once we have made an approval we will send you an SMS and a letter to your myGov Inbox. The letter may take up to 72 hours to arrive. If your application is successful we will also notify your super provider.
    3. If your application is approved you must contact your super provider to arrange the release of your money. You will need to provide the super provider with a copy of our approval letter to process your payment. The approval letter can only be used to release one lump sum payment.
    4. You must pay the expenses with the amount released from your super provider and keep your receipts as evidence.

    Joint applications

    You can make a joint application if you and another person need to pay part of the same expense. If you are making a joint application, each person will need to:

    • complete and submit a separate application
    • meet the eligibility criteria
    • provide the applicable evidence.

    The sum of the amount requested in the separate applications must not be more than the total amount of the invoice/quote.

    Next steps:

      Last modified: 20 Mar 2020QC 60034