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  • Access on compassionate grounds

    You may be allowed to withdraw some of your super on compassionate grounds.

    Compassionate grounds include:

    • medical treatment and medical transport for you or a dependant
    • palliative care for you or a dependant
    • making a payment on a loan or council rates so you don't lose your home
    • modifying your home or vehicle, or buying disability aids for you or a dependant because of a severe disability
    • expenses associated with a death, funeral or burial for a dependant.

    The amount of super you can withdraw is limited to what you reasonably need. It is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum. If you are under 60 years old, this is generally taxed between 17% and 22%. If you are over 60 years old, you will not be taxed.

    Note: Your fund will automatically deduct the tax from your super account – the amount you receive from the release will not be affected.

    On this page:

    Eligibility for compassionate release of superannuation

    We can only release your superannuation on compassionate grounds if you:

    • meet the eligibility requirements of the compassionate ground you’re applying for
    • have not paid for the expense - we can only approve compassionate release of superannuation to help you with unpaid expenses. If you have already paid the expense using a loan, a credit card or money borrowed from family or friends, you do not meet the eligibility requirements.
    • can’t afford to pay the expenses without accessing your super e.g. by obtaining a loan or using your savings
    • are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand
    • provide all required supporting evidence and invoices/quotes.

    Eligible circumstances for compassionate release of superannuation

    There are specific circumstances for requesting early release of super on compassionate grounds. These are:

    Medical (treatment or transport)

    You may be eligible for compassionate release of superannuation to pay for necessary medical treatment or medical transport expenses for you or your dependant.

    To be eligible, the medical treatment can't be readily available through the public health system and you or your dependant must have:

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

    Applications for medical transport must be to access medical treatment for one of the above conditions

    Next steps:

    Accommodating a disability

    You may be eligible for compassionate release of superannuation to accommodate a severe disability for you or your dependant to:

    • pay for modifications to your home
    • pay for modifications to your vehicle
    • pay for disability aids
    • purchase a modified vehicle.

    Note:

    We can only approve modifications to your dependant’s home if the home is also your principal place of residence.

    We can only approve modifications to your vehicle if you own or have joint ownership of the vehicle.

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

    Next steps:

    Palliative care for a terminal illness

    You may be eligible for compassionate release of superannuation to pay for palliative care expenses if you or your dependant has a terminal illness.

    Note: You may apply directly to your superfund for early release of super to pay for your own palliative care. The fund can release the money if you have a terminal medical condition and you will not pay tax on this money.

    We can also approve your request for compassionate release of superannuation for you or on behalf of your dependant; however this amount will be taxable.

    We can consider compassionate release of superannuation to assist you or your dependant with the cost of palliative care. Examples include:

    • costs of accommodation in a hospice
    • service providers giving palliative care
    • carers giving directly related palliative management.

    Next steps:

    The recent passing of a dependant

    You may be eligible for compassionate release of superannuation if your dependant has recently passed away. You can apply to release an amount needed to cover a dependant's:

    • funeral
    • burial
    • death expenses.

    We can't approve the release of superannuation to pay for venue hire or catering for a wake.

    Next steps:

    Preventing foreclosure or forced sale of home

    You may be eligible for compassionate release of superannuation to pay for mortgage arrears if your mortgage lender is threatening to repossess or sell your home. To be eligible, both the following must apply:

    • the property is your principal place of residence
    • you are legally responsible for the mortgage repayments and are listed on the written statement from your mortgagee.

    Note: You can’t apply for release of superannuation for a dependant’s mortgage.

    Maximum release amount on your mortgage

    The maximum amount you can request for a mortgage release within a 12 month period is the sum of:

    • three months repayments and
    • 12 months interest on the outstanding balance of the loan.

    For example, if your monthly repayments are $1,200 and 12 months interest on your loan is $9600, the maximum you can request is 3 x $1,200 + $9,600 = $13,200.

    You can apply for this amount from more than one super fund if you need it. The amount released will only be the amount necessary to stop a foreclosure.

    You may also be eligible to apply if you have arrears on council rates and your council is threatening to take possession of or sell your property.

    Next step:

    Applying for a dependant’s expenses

    You can apply for compassionate release of superannuation to pay for the following expenses for your dependant:

    Your spouse or children are automatically considered dependants.

    We define a spouse as someone who is:

    • legally married to you
    • not legally married to you, but lives with you on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple.

    We define a child as:

    • a biological child
    • an adopted child
    • a stepchild.

    Interdependent

    If you apply to pay expenses for a dependant who isn’t your spouse or child, you need to prove you are in an interdependent relationship.

    An interdependent relationship is a close personal relationship between two people:

    • who live together
    • where one or both provides financial and domestic support
    • who care for one another.

    Evidence of interdependency

    To prove you are in an interdependent relationship, you must provide documents showing you both live at the same address - this could be a joint bank statement or a phone, power or water bill.

    You also need to provide a statutory declaration telling us about your interdependent relationship. This statutory declaration should include:

    • how long you’ve been in the relationship
    • if you jointly own a house or belongings
    • if you jointly care and provide support for children
    • if your relationship is public
    • the amount of emotional support

    You won’t be eligible if you don’t live together, unless the reason you live apart is because one or both of you are:

    • temporarily working interstate or overseas
    • detained in prison
    • receiving care for physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability.

    Next step:

    Financial impact

    You may want to talk to an independent financial adviser before applying for compassionate release of superannuation.

    Releasing your super early will generally count towards your assessable income for income tax purposes. This can affect your family tax benefit or child support (if applicable).

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

    Note: Don’t include release fees and tax in the release amount

    Contact your super fund

    You should contact your super funds 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 fund does not permit early release of super, you may be able to transfer your super to a different fund that allows early release on compassionate grounds.

    Using savings, assets and investments

    We can only approve a release for the amount required to pay your immediate expenses. You should not apply for any expenses that you can meet with your savings or the sale of shares, investments, or assets.

    Joint applications

    Joint applications can be made 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 and meet the eligibility criteria and provide the applicable evidence. The total amount released cannot exceed the total amount of the invoice/quote.

    See also:

    How to apply

    Our application process is a free and easy service. 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 application is a three-part process. Before you apply, check with your superannuation fund whether they allow the early release of super before you begin.

    1. Apply using our online form. We assess your eligibility for compassionate release of superannuation, which can take up to 14 days.

    We can't provide you with a progress update during the assessment phase. Once we assess your application, a message will be sent to your myGov inbox with the outcome. If your application is successful, we will also notify your super fund.

    2. If your application is approved, you must contact your superfund to arrange release of your money. You will need to provide the superfund with a copy of the approval letter to process your payment.

    3. You must pay the expenses with the amount released from the fund and keep your receipts as evidence

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

    Required evidence

    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 the registered medical practitioner/specialist report is written in a language other than English it will need to be translated to English by a NAATI accredited translator.

    Medical treatment

    If you are applying to pay for medical treatment expenses you must provide two -separate reports. One must be from a registered medical specialist and the other can be from either a registered medical practitioner or a registered medical specialist, advising that you or your dependant requires treatment for:

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

    The registered medical specialist must be specialised in the field of treatment for the patient

    If applying for IVF, we will only consider one IVF treatment per application.

    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.

    Quotes and invoices

    You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

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

    See also:

    Next step:

    Medical transport

    If you are applying to pay for medical transport expenses you must provide two medical practitioner reports. One must be from a registered medical specialist and the other can be from either a registered medical practitioner or a registered medical specialist, advising 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 specialist must be in the field of the medical condition being categorised as a life threatening illness or injury, acute or chronic pain or an acute or chronic mental illness.

    Note:

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

    If applying for medical transport only, at least one report must capture 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.

    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
    • vehicle expenses
    • purchase of a vehicle where at least than 60 percent of its primary use will be for medical transport

    Before we approve a release for medical transport, we will need to consider the reasonable costs of all suitable transport.

    If you are having difficulty paying a car loan, it is considered financial hardship and does not meet a condition for compassionate release of superannuation.

    Quotes and invoices

    You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

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

    See also:

    Next step:

    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 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 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.

    Quotes and invoices

    You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

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

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

    See also:

    Next step:

    Palliative care for a terminal illness

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

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

    • has a terminal illness and has 24 months or less to live, and
    • requires 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

    Note: You may apply directly to your superfund for early release of super to pay for your own palliative care. The fund can release the money if you have a terminal medical condition and you will not pay tax on this money.

    We can also approve your request for compassionate release of superannuation for you or on behalf of your dependant; however this amount will be taxable.

    Quotes and invoices

    You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

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

    See also:

    Next step:

    The recent passing of a dependant

    If you are applying to pay for the funeral, burial or death expenses of a dependant,

    you will need to provide:

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

    Quotes and invoices

    You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

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

    See also:

    Next step:

    Preventing foreclosure or forced sale of home

    If you are applying to pay for mortgage arrears to prevent foreclosure or forced sale of your home, you need to provide a letter from your bank or lender for each loan you secured for your home.

    The letter must state:

    • 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 of foreclosure or forced sale of home.

    The letter must also be:

    • no more than 30 days old
    • on the bank or lender letterhead
    • dated.

    If you and someone else want to apply for compassionate release of superannuation for the same mortgage, the lender's written statement must specify that you are all legally responsible for the mortgage.

    You may also be eligible to apply if you have arrears on council rates and your council is threatening to take possession of or sell your home. The applicable supporting evidence as listed above needs to be provided.

    Note: You can’t apply for release of superannuation for a dependant’s mortgage.

    Next step:

    How tax applies

    There are no special tax rates for a super withdrawal on compassionate grounds.

    Find out about:

    Apply now

    From 1 July 2018, you can apply for compassionate release of superannuation online. If you live outside Australia and are unable to apply online, contact us to request an application form.

    Apply now

    Outside Australia

    If you apply from overseas:

    • Copies of documents you provide to support 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

    Request review of a decision

    You can request for a review of our decision if you believe we made an error.

    You need to complete the compassionate release request for a review of a decision form within 14 days of the date of the original decision letter.

    If your application was not approved because we didn’t get all required supporting documents, or you have new information for a further release of funds, you need to submit a new application.

    Amend or withdraw an application

    Make sure your details are correct as you can't amend your application after it has been submitted.

    To withdraw an application, contact us and quote your reference number.

      Last modified: 21 Jun 2018QC 37785