When can my patient access their preserved superannuation?

Normally, your patient cannot access their preserved superannuation until they reach the minimum age set by law (preservation age) and they permanently retire from the workforce. The preservation age is 55 for people born before July 1960 and increases incrementally to 60 years for people born after June 1964.

In some very limited circumstances, however, the law will allow your patient to gain access to their superannuation contributions earlier. Some of these circumstances are outlined below:

Your patient has been receiving Centrelink payments for at least 6 continuous months and has insufficient money to meet their reasonable and immediate living expenses. Up to $10,000 per annum Super fund
Your patient is over the fund’s required retirement age (generally age 55-60) All account balance Super fund
Medical and transport expenses for treatment outside the public health system for your patient or their dependant ** Enough to cover the expenses APRA  
To pay for modifications required to accommodate special needs of a patient with a severe disability Enough to cover the expenses APRA  
Payment of palliative care for your patient or their dependant Enough to cover the expenses APRA  
To assist with funeral, burial, cremation and other expenses related to the death of your patient’s dependant Enough to cover the expenses APRA  
Your patient has a terminal condition and less than 12 months to live All account balance Super fund
If your patient was living in Australia temporarily and is now leaving Australia permanently All account balance ATO
The preserved amount is up to $200.00 All account balance Super fund
For loan repayments to prevent sale of your patient’s home Up to 3 months repayments plus 12 months interest every 12 months APRA  
Permanently incapacitated for work All account balance Super fund

If your patient needs to access their superannuation before preservation age, they should ask their superannuation fund about their terms and conditions before applying. Taxation will apply to the withdrawn amount, unless withdrawn at retirement age or due to a terminal condition.

** Your patient may apply for an early release of their preserved superannuation to pay for medical treatment or transport to receive medical treatment. To make an application on these grounds, your patient must provide APRA with written statements from two treating medical practitioners (one of whom must be a specialist) to certify that the medical treatment is necessary for either of the following reasons:

  • treat a life threatening condition; or
  • alleviate acute or chronic pain; or
  • alleviate an acute or chronic mental disturbance.

The treating practitioner is also required to certify that the treatment is not readily available to their patient, or their dependant, through the public health system or private health insurance and/or workplace or traffic compensation schemes (e.g. TAC in Victoria). If the application cannot be supported by quotes, receipts or other proof for the cost of treatment/ transport, then the specialist and medical practitioner must specify an amount that is required.