Temporary changes to super and pensions
Early access to your super
The Government is allowing individuals in financial stress to access up to $10,000 of their super in the 2020-21 financial year (up to 31 December 2020). If eligible, you won’t pay tax on the withdrawal/money and it will not affect your Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
To apply for early release of your super, you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements set by the Government:
- You are unemployed, or
You’re eligible to receive:
- a job seeker payment
- Youth allowance for jobseekers
- parenting payment (including the single and partnered payments)
- special benefit, or
- farm household allowance.
On or after 1 January 2020, you:
- were made redundant, or
- had your working hours reduced by 20% or more, or
- are a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.
How to apply
To apply, go directly to the ATO through the myGov website. You’ll need to certify you meet the above eligibility criteria.
Please don’t apply to UniSuper directly.
We'll make the payment once the ATO have processed and approved your application. We expect payments to take 3-5 working days to be processed and in your nominated bank account.
Due to the planned ATO shutdown over the Christmas/ New Year period, payments relating to applications submitted after 11 December 2020 may be delayed and take longer than 5 working days to be processed.
Things to consider
- If you’re in financial distress and considering withdrawing your super, please consider this option carefully. You may wish to check if you’re eligible for any other forms of support from the Government. Visit The Treasury website to find out more.
- Taking money from your account now could leave you worse off in the long run. Read more about investing for the long term.
- Any insurance cover you have may be cancelled if there’s not enough money in your account to cover the cost of the premiums. Another consideration in relation to your insurance is that a reduction in salary or hours worked can reduce income protection cover. Or it could mean that you’re over insured and paying for cover you don’t need.
- If you do take out all of super, your account may be closed due to insufficient funds. Even if you’re still employed, you might need to re-apply to join UniSuper and may no longer be eligible for default insurance cover. If you want to keep your member number or current insurance, you must leave sufficient funds in your account to cover insurance premiums.
- Check how much cover you have by logging in to your account to check how much cover you have. Information on insurance premium rates and coverage can be found in the Insurance in your super booklet (PDF, 1.13 MB).
- For more information about the early access to super scheme, tune into this month’s podcast to get an understanding of the basics – eligibility, how to apply, and what you should seriously consider—such as insurance—before accessing your retirement savings. Listen to our podcast.
- It’s important to carefully consider the best option for you. If you need help or want to discuss how early withdrawal could impact you, please contact UniSuper Advice.
Beware of scams
There are currently COVID-19 (Coronavirus) themed phishing emails and text messages in circulation. The ATO is managing all applications for early release of super, there is no need to apply through any other third party.
See our FAQs further down this page for more information.
Reduction in minimum drawdown requirements
To support retirees, the Government has reduced the annual minimum drawdown requirements for pension payments by 50% for the 2020-21 financial year.
The 50% reduction will apply automatically to Flexi Pension and Transition to Retirement (TTR) pension accounts in 2020-21 where members have elected to receive the annual minimum drawdown amount.
Age Default minimum drawdown rates (%) Reduced rates by 50% for the 2020-21 financial year (%) Under 65 4 2 65-74 5 2.5 75-79 6 3 80-84 7 3.5 85-89 9 4.5 90-94 11 5.5 95 or older 14 7
What does this mean for your pension?
If you’ve elected to receive the annual minimum drawdown amount, from 1 July 2020 your pension payments will be reduced by 50% unless you tell us otherwise.
To change your pension payment amount, you can either:
- Complete the Flexi Pension – Annual pension payment election form (PDF, 82 KB) or the Flexi Pension (TTR) – Annual pension payment election form (PDF, 81 KB) and enter your chosen amount per payment for the 2020-21 financial year.
Please note: If you submit a request to increase your payments, depending on your chosen payment cycle, your first payment for the 2020-21 financial year may be automatically reduced in line with the reduced rates.
Changes to social security deeming rates
There have also been proposed reductions in the assets test deeming rates which may increase Centrelink entitlements for some. These changes will take effect from 1 May 2020.
For more information, please refer to the Government’s fact sheet (PDF, 136 KB).
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Frequently asked questions
Accessing your superHow long are applications open for early access to super?
Applications for the 2020/21 financial year can be made from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.Can I withdraw funds from more than one account?
Yes. The ATO will advise where you can withdraw funds from as part of their application process.
For example, you can apply to withdraw $1,000 from one fund, and $9,000 from another fund if it’s part of the same application.How long will it take to receive an approval or rejection from the ATO?
The ATO has indicated it will take 4 business days. You’ll receive an email in your MyGov inbox and may receive an SMS notification. The ATO will let us know if your application is approved.
If you apply after 22 December 2020, the processing of your application may be delayed until January 2021 due to the planned ATO shutdown over the Christmas/ New Year period.How will I get my money?
The ATO will let us know if your application is approved.
We’ll send you a confirmation SMS and/or email. We’ll also send a confirmation letter through the post.
The payment will go directly into the bank account we have on record for you as soon as possible. Please ensure your personal details (name, residential address, email address, phone number) are up to date. Log in to your account to update you details.Am I able to access my super if I’m living overseas?
Yes, but you still must meet the eligibility criteria.Why is myGov showing a different super balance?
Balances as at 30 June are provided to the ATO on an annual basis, this is the balance that appears on your myGov account. This should not hinder your application for the COVID-19 early release. We recommend checking your super balances before submitting your early release request. You can log in to your account to check your UniSuper balance.What if I’m a Defined Benefit Division member?
If you’re a Defined Benefit Division member, you can still apply for early access to your super if you meet the eligibility criteria. Note that some or all of your defined benefit component may be used to provide the total withdrawal amount that you have requested if you do not have a sufficient balance in your accumulation component. There may be significant implications to your defined benefit. Please contact us if you need more information.Can temporary residents apply?
Yes, if you’re a temporary resident, you can apply to release up to $10,000 of your super (until 30 June 2020) if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You’ve held a student visa for 12 months or more and you’re unable to meet immediate living expenses.
- You hold a temporary skilled worker visa and are employed and you cannot meet immediate living expenses.
- You hold a temporary resident visa (excluding a student or skilled worker visa) and you cannot meet immediate living expenses.
Can you request money from a pension account?
No. Super can’t be released from a pension account under the coronavirus early access arrangements.How can I find out more?
Visit the ATO website for more information about early access to super.
Pension and claims paymentsAll pension payments are planned to be processed as usual. Our operations team will also continue to process lump sum benefits, insurance claims and contributions. However, as a result of our modified working conditions, some processing may take a little longer than normal, and we ask you to bear with us while we do our best to deliver a quality service to you.
Investment markets and your super
Super is a long-term investment, and our expert team is used to working with fluctuating markets. At this time, as our investments team’s role is of utmost importance to our members' retirement outcomes, we’ve put additional measures in place to ensure the team can continue to function effectively, from any location, through the COVID-19 crisis.
If you're considering your investment options or are curious about switching, we recommend you make sure you’re aware of the investment basics of risk and return before deciding to make a switch. You’ll find more information on our Investment switching page.
If you'd like more information or help with switching your investments, contact us.
For help with choosing the right investment option for you, contact UniSuper Advice to speak to a financial adviser.
In the interests of minimising risk to members and UniSuper staff, we’ve made the considered decision to cancel all our upcoming seminars until further notice. We’ll keep you updated as we look for alternative ways to keep you informed about your super and post further updates here.
You can access our online webcasts to take advantage of previously recorded seminars and information sessions.
Insurance through your super
Insurance through your super can provide important financial protection if you become seriously ill and are unable to work.
The Death & Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance provided through our insurer TAL, doesn’t have any exclusions related to COVID-19. Therefore, the usual claims process would apply, if a claim is required.
Scammers have been taking advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to exploit Australians, using fake emails, phone calls or text messages to try and obtain personal data.
These are also known as ‘phishing’ scams. They look like a genuine email or text message and contain links or attachments leading to malicious software or fake websites.
Be on the lookout for phishing emails or phone calls impersonating the ATO, Centrelink, the World Health Organisation as well as other government authorities and legitimate companies.
UniSuper will never call you to ask for your personal details or to request a payment.
Always access your UniSuper online account via the UniSuper website (don’t use links in emails or SMS). Be particularly wary of anyone asking for your tax file number or trying to pressure you into something over the phone.
Scammers are also targeting Australians by offering ‘COVID-19 assistance’ payments if they complete an application form attached in the email. Opening the attachment may download malicious software onto your device.
The government’s early super access scheme does not start until mid-April, so anyone calling you about accessing your super before then is likely to be a scammer.
Visit the Scamwatch website for more information.
Changes to your employment
If you’ve experienced a reduction in work hours, a reduction in your salary or redundancy, you may have some questions. We’re here to help. Check out our fact sheets below:
You may also like to talk one of our super consultants. There’s no extra charge for an appointment, it’s all part of being a UniSuper member.
Book an appointment with a super consultant