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The earliest you can access the retirement savings you have accumulated in super is generally when you reach your preservation age and meet a condition of release.
Your preservation age will depend on your date of birth, as outlined below.
|Date of birth||Preservation age|
|Before 1 July 1960||55|
|1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961||56|
|1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962||57|
|1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963||58|
|1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964||59|
|From 1 July 1964||60|
The following table provides examples of different preservation ages for different birth dates.
|Date of birth||Preservation age||Date reaches preservation age|
|1 July 1959||55||1 July 2014|
|1 January 1960||55||1 January 2015|
|1 July 1960||56||1 July 2016|
|1 January 1961||56||1 January 2017|
|1 July 1961||57||1 July 2018|
|1 January 1962||57||1 January 2019|
|1 July 1962||58||1 July 2020|
|1 January 1963||58||1 January 2021|
|1 July 1963||59||1 July 2022|
|1 January 1964||59||1 January 2023|
|1 July 1964||60||1 July 2024|
What does preservation age mean?
Preservation age is so-called because your super benefits are ‘preserved’, or locked away, until you reach your preservation age and you meet a condition of release. Super benefits are simply the sum of all contributions made by you or your employer over the years plus investment earnings.
Just to confuse matters, your preservation age is different from the Age Pension eligibility age. The Age Pension eligibility age in Australia also depends on your date of birth. It is currently 66 years, but this age is increasing progressively to age 67 from 1 July 2023. The preservation age for all Australians is therefore much lower than the Age Pension eligibility age.
It’s also important to understand that your preservation age is also not necessarily your retirement age, though it can be if you choose.
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However, you can also continue working beyond your preservation age if you’re able and willing to do so. If you do decide to keep working, you (and your employer) can continue to make contributions to your super fund until age 74, under certain conditions. Your savings will remain as preserved benefits until you have met a condition of release.
What can you do when you reach preservation age?
You can access your super benefits once you have reached your preservation age and met one of the following conditions of release:
- Retiring from the workforce
- Beginning a transition-to-retirement income stream or pension. This is a way you can access your super while winding back your working hours.
Other conditions of release after preservation age include the following:
- Ceasing an employment arrangement after you reach 60 (even if you get a job with another employer)
- Turning 65 (even if you continue working).
How can you access your super before preservation age?
You can access part of your super prior to reaching your preservation age in special circumstances, such as:
- If you become permanentlyor temporarily incapacitated
- If you’re suffering severe financial hardshipor from a terminal medical condition
- On compassionate grounds.
As a temporary measure, super members may be eligible to gain early access of up to $20,000 due to COVID-19.
Reaching your preservation age provides you with options to potentially access your super. Accessing your super is a major financial decision so it’s recommended you seek independent, professional financial advice. An adviser can help you determine when you should access your super and the best way to do it, based on your individual circumstances.
The information contained in this article is general in nature.