For over-65s: Ten tips when making super contributions (for 2016/2017 year)

You can make voluntary superannuation contributions up to the age of 74 (that is, before you turn 75), and these can be concessional (before-tax) or non-concessional (after-tax) contributions. If you’re aged 65 or over, then you must satisfy a work test, if you intend to make super contributions. Anyone under the age of 65 can make super contributions without having to satisfy a work test.

Note: Regardless of your age, your employer must make Superannuation Guarantee contributions for as long as you continue working and remain eligible for SG contributions (for example, earn a minimum of $450 a month). The payment of SG used to be only required for those aged under 70, but the requirement was broadened to any age from 1 July 2013. For more information on this change to the SG rules, see SuperGuide article SG contributions paid for over-70s (since July 2013).

Here are ten tips to help you understand the super contribution rules for over-65s.

1. Work test required

Anyone aged 65 or over must satisfy a work test, before contributing. If you’re aged 65 or over (but under the age of 75), you can make super contributions if you’re at least gainfully employed on a part-time basis. In short, you must work for at least 40 hours in a period of not more than 30 consecutive days in the financial year in which you plan to make a super contribution. See Tip 6.

2. No voluntary super contributions beyond age 74

People aged 75 or over cannot contribute to a super fund (although since July 2013, an employer must contribute Superannuation Guarantee contributions beyond the age of 70 and over, if the employee is eligible). For more information, see SuperGuide article Super contributions beyond the age of 75.

3. Tax-deductible contributions need taxable income

If you intend to claim a tax deduction for concessional super contributions, you need assessable income, such as employment income, or business income, or net rental income, to justify the tax deduction. For more information see SuperGuide article Tax-deductible super contributions: Claim no more than your income.

4. If marginal tax rate is less than 15%, is it worth making concessional contributions?

Tax-deductible super contributions and other concessional contributions are subject to 15% tax within a super fund, which means that claiming a tax deduction for super contributions may not be tax-effective if you pay less than 15 cents in the dollar tax on your personal income. Note that an individual earning more than the tax-free threshold but less than $37,000, has a marginal income tax rate of 19%.

Note 1: Since the 2012/2013 year, if you earn less than $37,000 a year, you may be eligible for a refund of the 15% contributions tax on concessional contributions, known as the Low Income Super Contributions (see SuperGuide article Superannuation tax refund: 10 things you should know).

Note 2: The current contributions tax is a flat rate of 15%, and this 15% contributions tax applies to all concessional contributions made on behalf of individuals earnings less than $300,000. Since 1 July 2012, anyone earning more than $300,000 must pay an additional 15% tax on concessional contributions paid into a super fund, doubling the super tax bill for high-income earners. This extra 15% tax is known as the Division 293 tax. For more information on the extra tax on contributions see SuperGuide article Double contributions tax for more high-income earners.

5. You must be gainfully employed

The key term in the work test for making super contributions when you’re aged 65 years or over (see Tip 2) is that you must be “gainfully employed”. Gainfully employed means employed or self-employed for gain or reward in any business, trade, profession, vocation, calling, occupation or employment. According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s circular on contributions, “gain or reward” involves remuneration such as “salary or wages, business income, bonuses, commissions, fees or gratuities, in return for personal exertion”.

6. Work test involves any paid endeavour

The work test can be satisfied when “employment” involves any endeavour where you receive remuneration for your efforts, including farming, babysitting, cleaning, lawnmowing, gardening, consulting and paid employment. You will need to confirm with the tax office whether your arrangements satisfy the work test rules. For more information on the work test, see SuperGuide article Over-65s work test: How does it operate again?

7. Volunteer work not counted

Unfortunately, volunteer work does not count towards the 40-hour work test to enable over-65s to make super contributions.

8. Satisfy work test once only in financial year

An individual only has to work 40 hours of gainful employment in one 30-day period to satisfy the work test for contributing in a financial year.

9. Ensure you fully document gainful employment

Any income that you receive for this work must be fully documented and declared for tax purposes.

10. Bring-forward rule is not available for over-65s

When aged 65 or over, you cannot take advantage of the bring-forward rules when making concessional contributions, that is, after-tax contributions. The bring-forward rules permit an individual to make contributions representing the current year’s cap, and the next two years’ cap, in a single year. For more information on the bring-forward rules see SuperGuide article Bring forward rule: 10 facts you should know.


  1. “gain or reward” involves remuneration such as “salary or wages, business income, bonuses, commissions, fees or gratuities, in return for personal exertion”.

    I am 61 and not employed and not retired. I have income from an investment apartment I manage myself and dividends from shares held outside a super fund. Will I be able to satisfy the work test and contribute to super after I reach 65?

  2. Hi Trist

    With the Work Test payment is that via a group certificate or can be on an individual’s ABN.


    • Hi Michael
      A person can satisfy the work test being self-employed or employed. Any income earned from gainful employment (including self-employment) requires documentary evidence, but for the exact requirements, I suggest you confirm with the ATO.

  3. Beverley Chad says:

    Hi, I am 66 years old female and still working, self employed with my own business. When I turned 65, my super fund told me that I wasn’t required to pay anymore super. Is this correct? Bev

  4. Hi Trish

    I have been making concessional contributions for a number of years and have just realized that I may have exceeded the amount I was able to pay before a high tax penalty was imposed. Can I claim a refund for the excess I have salary sacriificed for each of the years I have contributed too much to avoid the high tax penalty rate?

    Until today, I understood that you could salary sacrifice as much of your pay as you wanted


  5. Isaac Ddamba says:

    Hi Trish,

    Keep up the good work. I have been reading your contributions for several months if not years. Thanks for your selfless education to the public. Your articles go such a long way to help our industry (Financial advice) by educating potential clients or the public in a very effective way. You are actually sawing seeds which then result into questions and then advice. Even better, when clients come to us knowing a thing or two about super such that they can not be duped by unscrupulous product focussed advisers with zero strategy; this then does help distinguish quality advice from transactional advice. Good on you.

  6. Trish – could you confirm if a person over the age of 65, employed but has been on sick leave for 12 months (and receiving payments) counts as satisfying the work test, or do they need to actually be in working capacity – as in being on the job – for 40 hours in a 30 day period.


  7. David Walters says:

    Just to clarify:
    In the financial year that I turn 65, I can contribute a one off $450,000 non-concessional contribution as long as it is before my actual 65th birthday, however once I have turned 65 I would need to break it up into 3 X $150,000 contributions. Is this correct? (Assume work test satisfied and bring-forward not already triggered)

    • Hi David
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the delay. My response is general information – you will need to verify your personal circumstances with an accountant.
      If an individual is under the age of 65 on 1 July, then the bring forward rules are available for that individual. If the individual makes the contribution after turning 65 in that financial year, then a work test must be satisfied and the individual can make a maximum of $150,000 in a single contribution. When eligible for the bring-forward rules in these circumstances, the minimum number of contributions for the year is $150,000 x3 when contributing $450,000
      The rules are summarised in the article below:


  8. Dorothea says:

    I am 72 and have a super fund; A M P flexible lifetime.
    1. Can I add to that fund before June 30th.
    2. And then withdrawn again during the year ? For a tour.
    3. How long must i leave my supper in for.
    4. I have worked the time needed, 40 hours in 30 days.
    5. Do I need to lodge a tax return, for that time ?
    Thanking you

    • Hi Dorothea
      Thanks for your comment. We are an information site rather an advisory site so I can only provide general comments. You will need to verify your circumstances with your super fund.
      Generally speaking:
      1. An individual who is aged 72 who satisfies the work test for contributing can make a super contribution.
      2. An individual aged 65 or over can access super benefits at any time. The ability to withdraw after contributing may depend on the rules of the super fund, and whether the individual is claiming a tax deduction. If you’re claiming tax deduction for the super contribution, then there is a timing issue regarding submitting ‘notice of intent’ form etc, if the tax deduction is to be accepted by the tax office. Your super fund can assist you with this.
      3. Whether a tax return is needed depends on your personal circumstances, and this will need to be checked with your accountant. In relation to the work test, the hours and payment need to be documented.
      4. If an individual is currently receiving a pension and the super fund has to set up another account to accept the super contribution, then a fee may be charged by the fund. If this is the case, and the money is going to be withdrawn fairly soon after contributing, then there may be other cost-effective saving options for short-term savings.
      Hope this helps

  9. Thanks Trish for your informative website. I’m having trouble getting correct info. from Tax Dept.
    At age 69, I have an opportunity to work for 40hrs in 30 day period & contribute to a new Super. My aim is to add a further $1000. to this. The Tax Dept. says that the Income I receive from this work has to be at least 10% of my total yearly Income (including the Income I expect to receive – approx. $800) which would include Age Pension, & small British Pension. (My husband receives an Allocated Pension of $7,500 plus Age Pension) My total annual income then is approx. $1,613.00 and 10% of this is $1613. The problem is – my employer will pay me $20.00 per hour, which is $800. It would be impossible to receive $40 per hour, to make the wage equal 10% of annual income. Can you offer any solution? Thanks, Judy

Leave a Comment