Super Guide for your 50s

Superannuation is designed to finance your retirement so the Government has special rules about when you can access your super benefits, and the tax that applies to super benefits. Generally speaking, you cannot access super benefits before the age of 55. If you fall into one of the exceptions that enable you to access super benefits under the age of 55, then you can expect to pay a higher rate tax on those super benefits than if you waited until your turned 55, or waited until you turned 60.

If you are aged 50 or over, you are subject to a special contributions caps when making concessional (before-tax) contributions. Anyone in the 50-plus age group needs to be aware that as you get older, aged-based super rules come into effect. For example, you must satisfy a work test if you intend to make contributions after the age of 65, and you can't make any super contributions once you turn 75.

Turning 55 can be significant in the super world because it is the minimum age for accessing super benefits (assuming you have retired and born before a certain date). If you are 55-plus, you can also access your super when you haven't retired if you choose to start a transition-to-retirement-pension (TRIP). Although super benefits are not generally tax-free between the ages of 55 and 60, you can still take advantage of a tax-free threshold when taking a superannuation lump sum, and a 15% tax offset when taking a superannuation income stream (pension).

Set out below are all SuperGuide articles explaining Super Guide for your 50s.

Accessing super early: Not for business debts

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Q: I am in partnership in a franchise business. We have fallen behind on rent and we are just managing to keep up with service providers. I would like to withdraw my superannuation to invest into the business. I only have about $35-40k in super. I am 57 and I believe that the funds would be better … [Read more...]

Can I access my super early due to financial hardship?

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Q: I am in financial hardship. Can I withdraw my super to pay my expenses? A: I’m sorry to read about your circumstances. Yes, in certain circumstances individuals suffering ‘severe financial hardship’ may be able to access a portion of their super benefits. You must apply to your super fund … [Read more...]

Accessing super early: Unemployed and in financial hardship

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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 use my superannuation towards my bills, due to my financial … [Read more...]

The short story on super contributions limits (2015/2016)

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You can make two types of superannuation contributions – concessional and non-concessional – and each type of contribution has a separate limit. Concessional contributions Before-tax contributions, such as compulsory Superannuation Guarantee contributions, salary sacrificed contributions and … [Read more...]

THE SOAPBOX: Ban unhedged international shares in default investment options

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Long-term readers of this SuperGuide website may recall my strong support for hedging international investments within default investment options. Alternatively, you can see my position as strong opposition to super funds punting on currency movements when their authority is to invest in … [Read more...]

Unrestricted access to super, sometimes

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Q: I have been part of a super fund from about 1993. I see from your 14 legal reasons to cash your super article, that I may be able to access my restricted benefit. You write: “If you’ve been a member of a super fund since before 1 July 1999, you can cash your ‘restricted non-preserved benefit’ … [Read more...]

Super for beginners, part 17: Four must-knows about super’s tax rules

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Q: I am trying to understand how my super is taxed and it seems that it is taxed at every turn. Can you please explain when, and how, a super benefit is taxed? A: If it were not for tax, superannuation wouldn’t exist. You would simply invest in your own name. Superannuation is taxed at lower … [Read more...]

Super for beginners, part 24: Do I have to withdraw my super when I turn 65?

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Q: I retired, sold my large house, downgraded, invested spare money and one month after I invested, I lost $50,000 just like that. I would like to know whether I can keep my super going beyond age 65, maybe to age 67 to help recoup my losses on my outside investment? A: I’m very sorry to read … [Read more...]

If I retire before 60, when can I access my super?

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Q: I am 57. If I decided to retire before 60 when can I access my super? If you have reached your preservation age AND retire, then you can access your super benefits. Australians can have a preservation age of 55 years (if born before July 1960), or at least 56 years and potentially up to 60 … [Read more...]

Does changing to part-time at 60 years, count as ‘retiring’?

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Q: I am 60. I am interested in the condition of release relating to turning 60 and resigning. Is it sufficient to satisfy the ’60 and resign’ condition of release by changing my employment arrangement from full-time to part-time, with the same employer? A: Most super benefits are preserved until … [Read more...]