Q: I really found your web page very informative as I am just about to retire. I wish I had read it years ago. You certainly take the mystery out of super. My son, 42 yrs old has moved permanently to the USA. He has married an American lady and purchased a house etc. He does not intend to return to Australia. He has a small industry-based super a/c & we were told that he cannot access this until retirement. Is this correct?
Trish’s response: Many thanks for your kind words about our website, and we’re pleased that you have found it useful.
I’m assuming your son was a permanent Australian resident and Australian citizen before he departed Australia’s sandy shores, rather than a temporary resident. Australian citizens who then relocate overseas are treated in the same way as Australians living in Australia: they cannot access preserved super benefits until they reach preservation age and retire, or satisfy another condition of release. (I explain the conditions of release in my article Accessing super early: 12 legal reasons to cash your super).
Preservation age for anyone born on or after 1 July 1960 is age 60, which is the preservation age for anyone aged 42. Preservation age ranges from age 55 (for those born before July 1960) through to age 60.
In the olden days (about 10 years ago) it was possible to access your preserved super benefits when you left Australia permanently subject to meeting certain conditions. The rules were changed from July 1998 which now means that any Australian citizen who moves overseas permanently cannot access super benefits unless they satisfy a condition of release. The rationale for this policy is that Australian citizens may return to Australia to retire, or at least have the option of retiring in Australia.
Note: Temporary Australian residents who have visited the country under an eligible temporary resident visa (temporary visa listed under the Migration Act 1958, but not subclasses 405 and 410) can withdraw any super benefits (less tax) when the visa expires and when they leave Australia. If a temporary resident doesn’t claim any his or her super benefits within six months of departing Australia, then the super fund may pay the super benefits to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). You then have to apply to the ATO for access to your super. You find more information about temporary residents accessing super benefits upon leaving Australia by reading Superannuation information for temporary residents departing Australia on the ATO website.