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  • Common fund enquiries – December 2018

    The ATO took over responsibility for early release of super on compassionate grounds on 1 July 2018. Since then we have received phone calls from super funds and their members about this condition of release.

    We've noticed an increase in calls from members, who have been directed by their funds to the ATO to request release of their super on compassionate grounds.

    In a large number of cases, the member doesn't meet the requirements for accessing their super on compassionate grounds. However, in some cases, they may be eligible for release of their super under the condition of severe financial hardship or temporary incapacity.

    Release of super on compassionate grounds

    You should refer your member to the ATO if they are requesting early release of super for expenses associated with any of the following:

    • medical treatment and medical transport for the member or a dependant
    • palliative care for the member or a dependant
    • payment of a loan or council rates so they don't lose their home
    • modifications to their home or vehicle, or buying disability aids due to a severe disability of the member or a dependant
    • a death, funeral or burial for a dependant.

    The eligibility requirements for release of super on compassionate grounds are stringent. Make sure your member is eligible before referring them to us.

    Examples that are not compassionate grounds

    Financial hardship and temporary incapacity are not grounds for compassionate release of super. You should not refer a member to the ATO for these reasons.

    However, you may be able to release the member's super on these other grounds. For example, if they:

    • cannot meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses (as explained in Severe financial hardship) – refer the member to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to obtain a letter confirming they have received eligible income support payments for the required period
    • cannot work or work fewer hours because of a medical condition (see Temporary incapacity) – the decision to release funds will depend on the governing rules of your fund.

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      Last modified: 25 Jan 2019QC 57805