• Withdrawing your super and paying tax

    Superannuation, or super, is money you put aside during your working life 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 your retirement.

    Consider:

    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 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: these include 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: these include 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: these include 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 phone Centrelink on 13 23 00 or visit the Department of Human Services websiteExternal Link.

    Beware of illegal super schemes

    Watch out for people offering to help you gain access to your super before you retire. 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 have started 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.

    Date of birth

    Preservation age

    Access your super from:

    1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961

    56

    2016-17 financial year

    1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962

    57

    2018-19 financial year

    1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963

    58

    2020-21 financial year

    1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964

    59

    2022-23 financial year

    From 1 July 1964

    60

    2024-25 financial year or later

    Preservation age is not the same as pension age. For information about the age pension, visit the Department of Human Services websiteExternal Link.

    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 money in your super account 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.

    See also:

      Last modified: 01 Sep 2016QC 37785