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Super & retirement: related but not synonymous

When will you access your super? Whatever your situation, it is imperative to talk to a professional to fully understand the range of options at your disposal, the opportunities for gain, and the ramifications of your decisions.

Some facts

  • You can access your super when you reach preservation age and retire, or when you turn 65, even if you haven’t retired.
  • You may also be eligible to access some super under transition to retirement rules, in severe financial hardship, or on compassionate grounds. If you need access to your super before you reach preservation age or retirement, your super fund will advise terms and conditions and it will make the final decision about releasing benefits.
  • Even after you have retired and received your preserved super, you can still return to work.
  • Preservation age is not the same as your pension age, which is when you may become eligible for government pension benefits, depending on your income or assets.
  • Your preservation age depends on your date of birth, on a sliding scale (consult the ATO or Commonwealth Super Scheme websites to check your preservation age).

Someone born prior to 1 July 1960 has a preservation age of 55. However if you were born since 1 July 1964 your preservation age is 60 which could significantly impact your working future.

Generally, super benefits are either preserved benefits or restricted non-preserved benefits, for which there are requirements before release of funds, or unrestricted non-preserved benefits, which are readily accessible.

Since 1 July 1999, all super payments and all earnings are preserved. Your annual super fund statement will list your totals in preserved and non-preserved categories.

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