Frequently asked questions

Can I get personal financial advice from UniSuper?


Yes. You can get personal financial advice directly from UniSuper through our financial advice business, UniSuper Advice. Our financial advisers are fully qualified and experienced and are solely dedicated to helping UniSuper members and their spouses. They can advise you on a wide range of matters, not just super, such as wealth creation, cash-flow planning and social security strategies.

To find out how they can help you, see UniSuper Advice or speak to our advice team on 1800 823 842.

Can I make extra contributions to my super before I retire?


Yes. You can make before- or after-tax contributions as long as you’re under 75. If you’re between 67 and 74, you’ll need to meet the work test, unless you meet the criteria for the work test exemption. You may also be eligible to make downsizer contributions. Before making extra contributions you’ll need to consider the contributions caps and seek financial advice if required.

Before-tax contributions

Before-tax contributions are contributions you make to your super from your before-tax salary. Under tax law, they’re treated as concessional contributions. These contributions may reduce the income tax you pay, while giving your super savings a boost. This is known as salary sacrificing and is organised through your employer’s payroll department.

The government imposes limits, known as contributions caps, on the total contributions you can make each financial year to your super. If you exceed these limits, you’ll need to pay a higher rate of tax.

You can contribute up to $25,000 of concessional contributions in the 2019-20 financial year and incur the 15% contributions tax, provided we have your TFN and the Division 293 tax does not apply to you. Any concessional contributions exceeding this limit will be added to your assessable income and taxed at your marginal rate. Learn more about contribution caps.

From 1 July 2018, if you have a total super balance of less than $500,000 on 30 June of the previous financial year, you can carry forward any unused concessional contributions under your cap on a rolling basis for five years. The first year you can carry forward unused amounts is the 2019-20 financial year. Unused amounts will be available for a maximum of five years, and after this period will expire.

If you’re a DBD member, your concessional contributions are calculated based on your ‘notional taxed contributions’ rather than the total amount of before-tax contributions you make. For more information, read:

After-tax contributions

You can also make after-tax contributions to your super if you’re under 75. If you’re between 67 and 75, you need to meet the ‘work test' or the work test exemption.

After-tax contributions are voluntary contributions you can make from your salary after income tax has been deducted. Your after-tax contributions are treated as ‘non-concessional’ contributions in applying the contributions cap.

If your total super balance at 30 June of the previous financial year is less than the general transfer balance cap (which is currently $1.6 million), you can generally contribute up to the annual non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap of $100,000.

If you’re under 65, you may be able to ‘bring forward’ up to three years of non-concessional contributions if your non-concessional contributions exceed the cap in a financial year. The cap amount you can bring forward, and whether you have a two- or three-year bring forward period, will depend on your total super balance at the end of June of the previous financial year.

For more information about before-tax and after-tax contributions and caps, visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

How much money will I need when I retire?


This depends on your personal situation, preferences and retirement goals. 

When planning your retirement there are many things to think about including:

  • when you plan to retire,
  • how long you’ll be retired,
  • whether you’ll have other income in retirement, and
  • what government benefits you’re entitled to.

Have you thought about what your life after work will look like? Do you plan to go on holiday or spend time with the family or perhaps further your education? No matter how you see your future, setting a budget can help.

You can start by estimating your living costs:

For more information, see How much you'll need for retirement.

If you need help with your retirement income, we recommend you speak to a qualified financial adviser.

How will I know when I’m ready to retire?


Deciding when to leave the workforce permanently is a personal choice. What prompts you to retire may be different than for someone else. According to the Australian Government’s MoneySmart website, there are a number of “retirement triggers” that may cause you to leave the workforce permanently:

  • You may be unhappy with your work
  • You mightn’t be able to find a job
  • Your kids may have left home
  • You may have had a health scare, or
  • You may have received an unexpected windfall.

For some, however, retiring is about feeling ready. It might be the ‘right time’: your finances are in order and you’re emotionally ready for the changes retirement will bring.

If you need help planning your retirement, we recommend you speak to a qualified financial adviser.

What are the ‘conditions of release’?


Before you can access your super, you need to meet a condition of release under superannuation law preservation rules. The conditions of release that let a member’s benefits be cashed include:

  • retiring permanently from the workforce on, or after, reaching your preservation age
  • terminating your employment after you reach 60
  • reaching 65
  • terminating employment with an employer who contributed to UniSuper on your behalf and your super is less than $200
  • becoming permanently incapacitated
  • having a terminal medical condition
  • death.

Some conditions of release allow the partial cashing of benefits, including: 

  • compassionate grounds
  • financial hardship.

Different rules apply to temporary residents, while additional restrictions may apply to members in the DBD.

You’ll find more information in the PDS relevant to your UniSuper membership.

What is ‘Transition to retirement’?


Transition to retirement (TTR) is a government initiative that lets you use your super to start a pension while you’re still working provided you’ve reached preservation age. If you’re eligible, it could help you:

  • reduce your work hours and supplement your income from your super through a regular income stream from a pension account, or
  • maintain your work hours, access a pension income and salary sacrifice more into your super. (You may even be able to structure the strategy so you don’t affect your net income).

For more information, see transition to retirement

If you need help deciding whether a TTR strategy is right for you, we recommend you speak to a qualified financial adviser.

When can I access my super?


The government places restrictions on when you can access your super: you can only access it if you’ve satisfied a condition of release (see the question, ‘What are the ‘conditions of release?’). Generally, your super must be preserved in the super system until you permanently retire from the workforce on, or after, reaching your preservation age.

 Your date of birth Your preservation age 
 Before 1 July 1960  55
 1 July 1960 - 30 June 1961  56
 1 July 1961 - 30 June 1962  57
 1 July 1962 - 30 June 1963  58
 1 July 1963 - 30 June 1964  59
 1 July 1964 or after  60 

There are some special instances, however, where you can access your super before reaching your preservation age (see the question, ‘What are the ‘conditions of release?’).

You may also be eligible to withdraw eligible voluntary contributions for the purchase of your first home prior to preservation age.

Before making any decisions about your super, we recommend you discuss your personal financial situation and needs with a qualified financial adviser.