A guide to ‘preservation age’ when accessing superannuation

Published 18 Jul 2018

Superannuation guarantees resources for when you’re no longer working. Without these funds, you may struggle to adapt to retirement, which can lead to numerous financial issues.

In order to protect your superannuation fund, the Australian government specifies a ‘preservation age’ that you must reach before you can access this sum. There are a number of terms you need to meet before you can legally access these payments, so read on for this short guide on what preservation age is and how you access it.

What is the preservation age?
This is a restriction placed on super fund members trying to access their benefits before they have reached a specific age, retired and/or met another condition of release.

Preservation age is different for everyone, depending on your date of birth.

  • If you were born before 1 July 1960, your preservation age is 55.
  • Between 1 July 1960-30 June 1961 the age is 56.
  • This continues in yearly increments until 1 July 1964.
  • Anytime after 1 July 1964, you need to be 60 to access your super.

What is the difference between preservation age and pension age?
These terms may seem interchangeable, but are in fact very different. Your pension age is when you can access the aged pension in Australia, and is also accounted for in a sliding scale based on your date of birth. Currently, the maximum age for this is 67, while the maximum preservation age is 60.

Unlike the preservation age, you don’t need to retire in order to access your pension – but your income will affect how much pension you earn.

Can I access my super before reaching my preservation age?
There are very few circumstances under which you can access your super fund before reaching your preservation age and starting a financial plan to transition towards retirement. This is to ensure you retain access to a substantial pool of resources that will last throughout your golden years. Examples of where you may be able to withdraw your super include:

  • Severe financial hardship – if you need access to your super to pay immediate and reasonable expenses.
  • Permanent incapacity – if you need access to super funds in order to pay for lifetime care or on going medical expenses.
  • Terminal illness – if a sickness or injury means you’ll pass away within the next two years and therefore won’t reach retirement age.

If you have a superannuation dispute you would like to contest or need legal help accessing your super funds earlier than your current preservation age, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Superannuation Lawyers today.

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