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  • Withdrawing your super and paying tax

    Superannuation (super) is money you put aside during your working life for you to use in retirement.

    When it's time to access your super, consider your options to work out what’s best for you. Your choices could affect how comfortably you live in retirement.


    You can seek independent financial advice to help you decide how you will access your super.

    See also:

    When you can access your super

    Super benefits are subject to withdrawal rules to protect your entitlements.

    Preservation rules prevent you from accessing your benefits until you satisfy a condition of release.

    Preservation rules

    Your super may include one or more of the following benefit types:

    • preserved benefits – including all contributions and all earnings for the period after 30 June 1999 (preserved benefits can only be paid to you if you meet a condition of release)
    • restricted non-preserved benefits – including all contributions you made between 1 July 1983 and 30 June 1999 (as with preserved benefits these can only be paid to you if you meet a condition of release)
    • unrestricted non-preserved benefits – including money held in your fund you can access at any time, if your fund's rules allow it.

    Your benefits are generally preserved until you meet a condition of release.

    Conditions of release cover a wide range of circumstances when a release of benefits is permitted. Some have restrictions on the form of benefit (for example, lump sum or income stream) or the amount of the benefit payable. These are known as 'cashing restrictions'.

    If you meet a condition of release with zero cashing restrictions, the preserved and restricted non-preserved benefits in your account will become unrestricted non-preserved benefits.

    You can check how much you have in preserved, restricted non-preserved and unrestricted non-preserved benefits on your annual super statement.

    See also:

    Conditions of release

    Super laws provide specific rules for when you can access your super. These are called conditions of release. In addition, the trust deed of your super fund may set out more restrictive rules around payment of benefits.

    You can access your super when you:

    • reach your preservation age and retire
    • reach your preservation age and choose to begin a transition to retirement income stream while you are still working
    • are 65 years old (even if you have not retired).

    You can also access super in some special circumstances:

    Accessing super and receiving Centrelink payments

    If you access your super it may affect your Centrelink payments, to find out more:

    Illegal super schemes

    Watch out for people offering to help you gain early access to your super before you retire by transferring it to a self-managed super fund. Many of these schemes are illegal and heavy penalties apply if you participate.

    See also:

    Preservation age

    Your preservation age is the age you can access your super if you are retired (or can start a transition to retirement income stream).

    If you were born before 1 July 1960 you have already reached your preservation age of 55 years and you can access your super once you have met a condition of release. If you were born after 1 July 1960 your preservation age depends on when you were born.

    Preservation age based on date of birth

    Date of birth

    Preservation age

    Before 1 July 1960


    1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961


    1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962


    1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963


    1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964


    From 1 July 1964


    Preservation age is not the same as pension age.

    See also:

    Transition to retirement

    Once you reach your preservation age you can choose to receive a transition to retirement income stream.

    This enables you to receive regular payments (an income stream) from your super while you continue working. Each financial year you can access up to 10% of the balance of money in your super account as at the start of the financial year.

    You can seek independent financial advice to help you decide if a transition to retirement income stream is right for you.

    Find out about:

      Last modified: 13 Sep 2018QC 37785