Can I access my super if I am permanently disabled and unable to work?

Published 15 Apr 2020

If you have had an illness or injury that led you to become permanently disabled and thus unable to work, you may be understandably worried about your finances. Some people in this situation may seek to tap their superannuation early, and the good news is there are laws on the books that make this possible.

Australians may be granted early access to their supers on what are known as “compassionate grounds” as long as they have unpaid expenses and no other means of paying for them, according to the Australian Taxation Office. However, this is not an unlimited withdrawal opportunity – you will only be able to access what is reasonably required to pay specific expenses.

What does that mean?

There are specific types of expenses you can tap your super to cover in the event of a permanent disability, the ATO noted. These include:

  • Medical treatments or transport for you or one of your dependents
  • Expenses necessary to keep up with home payments so you do not become homeless
  • Installing modifications to your home to cater to your disability
  • Palliative care for you or a dependent
  • Expenses associated with final costs for a deceased dependent.

These funds would be paid out in a lump sum, and taxed as such.

What’s considered ‘early?’

Of course, you may also be eligible to tap your super in other circumstances, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. If you retire before the age of 65 – for whatever reason – you may have a “preservation age” of as little as 55, depending on when you were born, and that may apply even if you have not fully retired. For everyone born after 1 July 1964, that is 60 years of age or older.

However, if you were working beyond the age of 65, you can begin withdrawing from your super whenever you like.

There are many particulars that may or may not apply to your unique situation, and it can be difficult for people dealing with many other concerns to determine whether they would be eligible for early withdrawals on their own. If you have questions about the specific circumstances you may begin withdrawing from your superannuation funds early, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the legal experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners. We will help you work through any issues you may be facing to find a suitable resolution that meets your needs.

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