Accessing super early: 16 popular Q and As

I have received many questions from readers, some in serious financial situations or suffering illness who are seeking more information on how to access Australian super benefits early. Other readers seeking early access to super benefits have left Australia permanently, or have even left Australia temporarily.

The most surprising aspect to the range of questions that I have received from readers on this topic is the international reach of our super system and the mobility of the Australian and international workforces – readers from more than 160 countries visit the SuperGuide website.

A popular article on the SuperGuide website, particularly for our overseas readers, is Accessing super early: 14 legal ways to withdraw your super benefits.

Due to the number of questions that we receive on the issue of early access to super, it is not possible to publish every question but we have dozens of articles on this topic. For this article, I have selected articles that represent what I believe to be some of the most popular questions on withdrawing super early.

If you are seeking background information on how to access your super benefits then I suggest you start with the ’14 legal ways…’ article (refer link earlier) and then return to this page where I provide the links for answers to 16 questions on accessing super early covering the following topics (click on each link to access the questions and answers).

Note: The Q and As listed in this article are merely a guide to assist you with the general rules concerning early access of super benefits. You will need to confirm your personal circumstances with your super fund and where applicable, the Department of Human Services (DHS), or the ATO, or your doctor, depending on your reasons for seeking early access to super benefits.


  1. Louise Nonweiler says:

    I lived in Australia on a temporary visa and then applied for Permanent residency which I got. I have now relocated back to the UK and have cancelled my permanent visa. I have now been told that I can only claim my super back for my temporary residency. Is this correct and is there any way I can claim on hardship grounds etc.

    Your website is very informative

  2. Hi,
    I would be very regretful if you could answer my following question:
    My current situation:
    > I am 30+ years old
    > I have good amount ($60k+)of personal debt (majority are from Credit card and interest rates are very high) which is almost equivalent of my current supper amount
    > For last 5+ year I am re-paying all repayment on time but due to high interest rate and living expenses going higher day by day, my debt is actually going up day by day slowly.
    > I have reduce all my expenses to a minimal amount and there is not a single $ I can reduce from my daily budget.
    > If my debt keep going like current rate, within next 2-3 years I will have no other options rather going for bankruptcy and quit my job
    > 2/3 of my Supper fund is in SMSF
    > My current supper contribution from Employer is 17%
    > I have invested all my super amount to cash investment (4% return)
    I have calculated:-
    > if I been given the opportunity to borrow my Super fund money only for 3 years than I will be able to reduce my debt 80-90% and It will take me Year to repay my loan.

    Under my circumstances stated above, will be able to apply for early release of my super fund? Or may I borrow my Super fund for 3 years ?


  3. Hi there, I really like your website, it is very helpful. I have a question that I cannot find the answer for, maybe you can help.

    If I am 50, and I have a very strong super fund (5 to 10 million AUD), can I go to the bank and borrow money using to support early retirement, using the security of the super cash flows?? Are there laws to prevent the bank from using my super fund as a legitimate security? This is an important question as it may provide another way to access your super early.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice.


    • Hi Nick
      Many thanks for your email and for your very nice feedback.
      We are an information site rather than advisory site but I can say that superannuation accounts cannot be used as security for bank loans or for other purposes. There is one or two exceptions related to limited recourse borrowing (where the specific superannuation asset subject to the borrowing arrangement is part of the security arrangement).
      I will provide a fuller response in our March 2011 newsletter.

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