Q: I have been unemployed for 10 months now and I am still having problems finding work. I’ve got bills to pay off and I’m finding it hard to do that with the tiny amount I get from Centrelink each fortnight. Is there any way I can claim I have financial difficulties and use my superannuation towards my bills?
A: I’m sorry to read about your troubles. Yes, in certain circumstances individuals suffering financial hardship may be able to access a portion of their super benefits.
You must apply to your super fund to claim early access to your super benefits on the basis of severe financial hardship. Note that even if you satisfy the conditions for early access to super benefits due to ‘severe financial hardship’ you may belong to a super fund that doesn’t permit access on these grounds. As a preliminary step, check with your super fund as to whether they permit benefit withdrawals for financial hardship.
You must satisfy certain conditions for early access to super benefits based on ‘severe financial hardship’, which are outlined in a special regulation as part of the super laws (Sub-regulation 6.01 (5) and (5A) of the SIS Regulations). You can claim your super early based on severe financial hardship. If you satisfy one of the following two scenarios:
- Received government income support for 26 weeks, and cannot meet immediate expenses. Can access up to $10,000 in each 12-month period.
- Reached age 55 (current preservation age) and received government income support for 39 weeks. Can access full super benefit if required.
I explain the eligibility rules for severe financial hardship in more detail in the SuperGuide article Can I access super early due to ‘severe financial hardship’?
Warning: You may not be aware that if you are permitted to access your super benefits, then your super benefits are likely to be subject to benefits tax, which will be deducted from the super benefit before it reaches your hands.