Essentially, your super is locked away until you reach your preservation age or meet another condition of release. But you don’t need to cash out your super just because you've reached a certain age.
Your preservation age
Your preservation age is the age you can access your super if you are retired (or start a transition to retirement (TTR) income stream while you are still working).
Your preservation age ranges from 55 to 60, depending on your date of birth. If you were born before 1 July 1960, you have already reached your preservation age of 55 years. This means you can access your super once you meet a relevant condition of release, such as retirement. If you were born after 1 July 1960 your preservation age depends on when you were born.
In some specific situations, you may also be able to access your super before you reach preservation age, such as in cases of severe financial hardship or permanent disability. It’s important to know how your preservation age affects your super withdrawals and the amount of tax you pay on your savings. Read more about getting access to your super before retirement.
Retirement rules for accessing super
In addition to the age requirement, where you are under age 65, you’ll need to meet the definition of ‘retired’ before applying to withdraw your super.
By satisfying the definition, you’ll have unrestricted access to your super savings. These savings can be accessed in the form of a lump sum, retirement income stream (often referred to as a ‘pension’) or a combination of these.
What does ‘retired’ mean?
The superannuation regulations specify that ‘retired’ means you’re no longer employed (either full-time or part-time), and don’t intend to work again for 10 or more hours per week. This means:
- You’ve reached your preservation age and have permanently retired
- You’ve ceased working in an employment arrangement after the age of 60
Once you reach age 65, there are no restrictions on accessing your super, regardless of your working status. That is at age 65, you can access your super in the form of a lump sum, pension, or both, even if you’re still working.
Depending on your age, you may pay tax on any super you withdraw. But once you turn 60 years old, you can generally access your super tax free.
What can you do with your super?
If you’re eligible to access your super, you have a few options. You can:
- retire and withdraw your super
- keep it in your super account
- retire and use it to start a tax effective super income stream
- use your super to help you transition to retirement.
You don’t need to choose just one of these options. Many people use a combination.
Even if you have super, you may still qualify for at least a part Age Pension from the government. If you want to combine your super with the Age Pension, you’ll need to satisfy a few requirements.
The government has different rules about when you can access your super and when you can apply for the Age Pension. To be eligible for the Age Pension, you must be Age Pension age which is currently 67 years, and you’ll need to meet some other rules. Read more about the Age Pension age requirements.
You can talk to UniSuper’s award-winning financial advice team to plan your ideal future. Or our super consultants can provide information and general advice across a range of topics at no extra cost, whether you’re a UniSuper member or not. Book an appointment in-person on campus, via video or over the phone, or call 1800 823 842.