Why can’t I withdraw from my super? It’s my money and I need it.

You’ve been working really hard, and your employer’s been putting away 9.5% of your pay into an account somewhere, doing something. You’re not too sure what it’s for or why you can’t touch it. You probably have lots of those accounts around from your previous jobs*. You call your super fund and you finally get your login details only to find that you can’t touch that money. How annoying, that’s money you’ve earned! Why can’t you touch it? You’ve got bills to pay, a deposit you’re saving to buy a house. The bottom line is that you can’t touch it because the government has entrusted your super fund to look after it for you until you retire. This is because of our ageing population and the government’s calculated population projections which show that there just won’t be enough Australians to sustain a full pension for everybody. Nevertheless, desperate times call for desperate measures, and there are some desperate times that the government has concessions for.

What are the circumstances in which I can withdraw my super early?

The sad reality is that the circumstances in which you can withdraw your super early are mostly pretty grim.

For starters, if you can prove to your super fund (and the government) that you’re in severe financial hardship, which includes you being on Centrelink benefits for some time, then you may be able to access some of it early.

If you’re in real financial or emotional strife because you can’t afford a medical treatment for yourself or a dependant; need to pay for a funeral, death or burial; must modify your house due to disability for you or a dependant; or finally, if you need to make a home loan payment to prevent you from losing your house – then you may qualify for early release of super on compassionate grounds.

If you’re terminally ill or are permanently or temporarily incapacitated, you may also be able to apply to withdraw your super early.

Finally, the least depressing scenario is if you change jobs and your super balance in that account equals to less than $200, then you may be able to withdraw it.

Note: If you wish to complete any super withdrawal, your best bet is to contact your super fund. Please note that your super fund cannot let you access your money unless you meet what’s called a ‘condition of release’, where they can legally let you withdraw it. Usually this is retirement but as discussed here, there are some other conditions of release that could apply to you. In other words, yelling at the super fund consultant probably won’t help you. You’d be far more likely to change the law if you wrote a letter to your local MP.

*If that’s the case, you might want to roll your super over into one fund but make sure you check what insurances you have inside that super fund.